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Fridays After Five a success in the Village Commons

New in town, the Village of New of Lenox hosted its first Fridays After Five of the summer season June 23 in the Village Commons.

The special event brings food trucks and live music on select Fridays throughout the summer.

The event is free to attend, and it offers a plethora of food to purchase. Additionally, people are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets to sit on as they enjoy live entertainment.

To kick-start the festivities in June, the Village brought in Midlife Crisis to perform music throughout the evening, as well as four food trucks to sell concessions.

Lines were filled as people waited in line to make purchases.

The first Fridays After Five brought in an estimated 2,000 people, said Beth Alderson, special events coordinator.

“We were expecting 500 to 700, especially with a new event,” she said. “You must be conservative. People were setting up blankets and lawn chairs well ahead of the event’s start time. It was exciting to see. To know they enjoyed it, we now know what to expect.”

The idea behind holding the special event came together in response to the success of the Village’s Concerts in the Park, said Mayor Tim Baldermann.

“We wanted to put our Village Commons to use as much as possible,” he said. “We wanted to move forward with [introducing a new event.]”

Alderman echoed that sentiment.

“We’re looking to provide nice entertainment and something new for the community,” she said. “Food trucks have been all the rage everywhere, and we wanted to bring that to the Village Commons.”

The event drew in residents not only of New Lenox, but also those of towns in the surrounding area.

Nina Rossi, of Oak Forest, said she liked all of what the event offers.

“I liked the music,” she said. “I love it. The place is so nice.

Rossi said the event managed to please, though she didn’t know what to expect.

“I thought there was a lot of people,” she said. “I thought it was great.”

Rossi’s friend, Bethany Wiatrowski, also of Oak Forest, was walking the grounds of the Village Commons with a stroller in tow.

“I loved it, and I like how it’s kid-friendly,” she said. “I can just bring my baby here, and there’s all these kids dancing. It was a lot of fun.”

Wiatrowski said she and Rossi heard about the event through Facebook and decided to check it out.

“We love to dance and like listen to music and sit outside, so this was perfect,” she said.

Cara Schnayer, of New Lenox, said she is glad she decided to drop in.

“The music was awesome,” she said. “Obviously, the weather cooperated, and it was a great night to be out with some friends.”

Schnayer said she ran into some old friends she hadn’t seen in quite some time, which was nice.

“It’s a great gathering of friends and neighbors,” she said.

Schnayer said she is considering the idea of returning to Fridays After Five on another occasion.

“I plan on coming to a lot more [of the events the Village holds,]” she said.

Baldermann said seeing the community come together was amazing.

“We’ve got a great community that likes to gather together,” he said. “The turnout was spectacular.”

The message the community sends through its willingness to come together is formidable, Baldermann said.

“It speaks volumes,” he said. “We’ve got a great community, and we’ve got great people. They’re very community-oriented, and they’re supportive.”

The Village intends to provide more food trucks and restroom facilities at the next event, which will return to the Commons on July 14 and Aug. 11.