Strolling through downtown Clarendon Hills recently, I was startled by an unusual sight: hands growing out of the planter beds! A few feet away, Mona Lisa was popping out of the ground between Domino’s and Ashley’s Custom Stationery, and nearby a panther was spotted in front of the Coldwell Banker office. Even Captain America was found fighting for nature in front of Quinn’s Coffee Shop. Could this be a late-night Svengoolie episode?
Not quite. The peculiar visitors are painted on rain barrels throughout town, and many Clarendon Hills residents are stopping in to see for themselves.
The strange phenomena all began with 17-year-old local resident Alex Sivak. Alex attended a meeting last November put on by , a nonprofit organization that serves Clarendon Hills by educating us on how to reduce the size of our carbon footprint. Inspired by the meeting, Alex — a senior at Benet Academy and a member of — decided that he wanted to work alongside the group for two reasons: first, to take on something great and serve the community; and second, to satisfy his Eagle Scout award, the highest honor in Boy Scouts.
Alex soon became the project manager and energy behind , setting out a four-phase plan that will conclude at the end of July. The first phase was designed to educate Clarendon Hills residents and students on water conservation, and Alex enlisted the Conservative Foundation to speak to students at all of our local Clarendon Hills schools: Walker, Prospect, Notre Dame, Seton Montessori and Clarendon Hills Middle School.
The purpose of Phase Two was to raise funds and conserve water by selling rain barrels. Alex’s troop sold 32 of them, and he personally bought barrels for all the schools with money raised by the fundraising. Also part of Phase Two: a contest called “Raincatchers of Clarendon Hills,” in which schools, businesses and community residents had an opportunity to paint the barrels. The creepy and exciting visitors you see around town were created by many local residents, including students from Walker and Prospect elementary schools and Seton Montessori School.
In Phase Three, Alex had install two rain barrels to demonstrate how to properly have them installed. But perhaps the most exciting phase is yet to come — Phase Four is the voting process to determine a winner of the barrel-painting contest. Alex had plaques made for each painted rain barrel in town, telling visitors how they could vote for their favorite barrel. This phase will conclude when the winner of the contest is announced at the Dancin’ in the Streets concert on July 23, so it’s not too late to vote.
I interviewed Alex and was impressed with his confidence and the way he gives credit to some of his mentors, including Dan Ungerleider, the Community Director of Development for Clarendon Hills. I was also impressed with his dedication to a good cause and his persistence in bringing about positive change. He will receive his Eagle Scout award before his 18th birthday this fall, I’m sure.
So if you see any unusual visitors as you walk through town in the coming weeks, think of Alex’s plan. Perhaps a child dangling his feet in a barrel while trying to snag a fish might not be so strange after all.
Mike is a resident; husband; Indian Princes; Indian Guide Dad; a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker. Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around Clarendon Hills. It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings. He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting Clarendon Hills residents and even a little about . Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.