by Chuck Fieldman

A crowd that grew to an estimated 15,000 greeted the Taste Of Oak Brook on Sunday, July 3, at the polo grounds at 700 Oak Brook Road. After all, we have been without a “Taste” since 2018. Heavy rains flooded the grounds in 2019, and the pandemic kept us from attending group events in 2020 and 2021. Village President Gopal Lalmalani said, “It was so nice to be able to come back after not being able to do this for the past few years.” “It was very warm outside in the afternoon, but, overall, we had a good day, and it was nice to see so many people out, enjoying themselves. I had some people tell me the fireworks show was the best they’ve seen.” Christy Dolan, a 25-year resident of Oak Brook who previously has attended several was glad to be able to do it again. “It was kind of a joyous feeling to be together again,” she said. “I think a lot of us have missed that sense of community, and everyone seemed so happy to be there, having a wonderful time with others from the community.”

Michael Manzo, a Village Board member who co-chairs the Taste of Oak Brook Committee with fellow board member Suresh Reddy, said he was very pleased with the entire event. “I’m very pleased because a lot of people put a lot of effort into making this a great event again, and that was a challenge after not having it for the past three years,” Manzo said. “It was great to see so many people come out and enjoy themselves. It was almost a return to normalcy after what all of us have gone through the past couple of years.” Manzo said business was strong enough to result in a couple of the food vendors selling out of their offerings before the day ended. He said Village Manager Greg Summers, in particular, should be commended for the work he put in to help bring back Taste of Oak Brook.

It was the first Taste of Oak Brook for Summers, who started work for the village in January. It also was the first Taste, as police chief, for Brian Strockis, who has been with the village’s police department for the past 22 years and became chief in June. “It went very well,” Strockis said of Sunday’s event. “At first, the crowed seemed lighter than usual, but at night it filled up and was packed.” Strockis said there were no significant problems the entire day. And a new offering by Oak Brook police — providing parents, who wanted them, paper bracelets that had their phone numbers printed on them, for their children to wear — proved fruitful. “We had two calls for kids who got separated from their parents, but we were able to immediately get a hold of the parents and reunite them with their kids,” Strockis said. Manzo said village staff and officials will meet soon to review this year’s Taste of Oak 6Brook and discuss possible changes for next year.

*Photos by Ejay Khan