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Party in the Park

Often times grandparents want their loved ones to settle down and behave.

Not at Oak Crossing -- they're hoping you're ready to party.

"We are having our 19th annual Party in the Park," said Ruth Renier, who works with the Family Council of Oak Crossing.

The group is made up of volunteers whose main goal is to help "spice things up" for nursing home residents by providing things that brighten their day.

"They get the necessities at the nursing home, but days can be long and they need to have a little fun," Renier said.

The Family Council does this by throwing their ever-popular "Party in the Park," which contrary to the name, isn't in the park.

"It used to be," laughed Renier, "but it'd get so windy that it'd blow our buns away!"

It's now in the basement of Holy Rosary Parish Center.

This year it is Friday, July 15, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Cooks whip up food for over 1,000 people -- a head count that Renier says is pretty typical.

There will be barbecues, chips, pie, ice cream and a beverage for $5 per person.

Proceeds go toward the Family Council, which just this past Easter, opened up a brand new non-denominational chapel for the nursing home residents.

"We saved up for three years to do that," said Renier, "but you know, these residents are in their 90s. They left their churches when they moved into the nursing home, and putting a chapel in was a way to make it their own."

Renier says the chapel, with stain glass windows and vaulted ceilings, has made the nearly 100 residents feel at home, as family members and friends come to visit there.

The group has also purchased the residents a computer (which Renier says some use to receive pictures of their grandchildren) and they also throw a Halloween and Valentines party every year.

"We have live music at our parties," said Renier, "And even though a lot of the residents are sitting in wheel chairs, they'll be tappin' their toes and waving their hands to the music -- they love it."

This year, the country-western group Off the Wall is performing, as well as The Happy Wanderers and The Front Row, who perform Glen Miller music.

Party in the Park will also offer a quilt raffle, thanks to the talents of one of the Oak Crossing residents.

"Just because people get older, doesn't mean they're not still very talented," Renier said, "and I've heard this quilt is very beautiful."

There will also be a white elephant sale to help boost the proceeds.

"That's where people donate new items for us to put up for sale," said Renier, "it's like a garage sale except everything is new -- we have a gorgeous crystal bowl and linen table cloth and napkins...lots of stuff."

The Family Council hasn't decided what they're going to do with the proceeds yet, but is certain it'll be something to help the residents have a good time.

"That's our make them happy," said Renier, who adds she always has "children" complimenting them on their services.

"They see their parents laugh and have a good time, and that makes them happy, too."

For more information on Party in the Park, call Ruth Renier at 844-5551.

"It's good food, good music and a good cause -- that's for sure."