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Earth Day-Arbor Day celebration remains rooted in environmental tradition


They crawled, they crept, they clawed.

Raptors, wolves and cold-blooded creatures were some of the main attractions at the Village of Homer Glen’s ninth annual Earth Day-Arbor Day celebration on Saturday, May 21, at Konow’s Corn Maze in Homer Glen.

The nature-filled event included many activities for children including face painting, birdhouse painting, pony rides, crafts and more. A number of vendors were on site displaying and selling various indoor and outdoor-themed décor, including jewelry, pottery and baskets.

Sharon Sweas, a Village trustee and event organizer, said the celebration brings great meaning to those in the community.

“It’s very important because it brings the community out,” she said. “It’s a free event and where you can bring your children to learn a little more about the environment. (There’s) something for everyone here.”

Sue Steilen, another event organizer and Village staff liaison for the Environment Committee, said the overall intent of the celebration is not only to have fun but also to increase awareness for the environment.

“What we do is we try to have displays that are related to caring for the environment,” she said. “Animals—naturally people learn to appreciate animals—they’re going to take care of their animals.”

Taryn Cialoni, of Joliet, was one of many taking part in the festivities said she and her children were enjoying themselves.

“The bugs are awesome,” she said. “I’m not really a bug-person, but I just can’t believe the size of these spiders.”

Cialoni added that she heard about the event through a flyer and decided to take the family.

She said her daughter, although a little terrified, seemed to be interested in checking out the exotic creatures, where lay hissing cockroaches, a giant centipede and red spot assassin bugs.

“She wanted to see the scorpions,” Cialoni said. “She can’t be too scared of it. I think she’s more scared of the spiders.”

Mike Levins, of Crosstown Exotics, had a collection of bugs on display. He said people usually have a variety of reactions when approaching his table filled with different sorts of critters that attendees could examine closer.

“It’s different,” he said of the display. “There’s not a lot of bug guys.”

Nancy Foley, of Homer Glen, was waiting for the cold-blooded creatures presentation to begin. She said it was she and her husband’s third time attending the event, and they felt compelled to come back.

“The day was going to be nice and we figured we’d come to spend a couple hours here,” she said. “There’s always good exhibits and things. It’s fun to come.”

Foley said it was nice having a chance to see the wolves and other critters featured during the Big Wolf Ranch presentation.

“I certainly wouldn’t approach them in the wild,” she said. “Here, though, they’re very nice to see. This kind of gives you a way of seeing them without (being scared) because they’re all tamed. In the wild, you can’t see these up close, so this is an excellent opportunity.”

The event typically sees between 1,500-3,000 visitors each year, according to Steilen.

Steilen said the hope is people walk away from the event having learned about the role they play in making the world a better place.

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