For the past two Mondays – and on every Monday to come until this COVID-19 scare is over – it’s been dance night in North Riverside. Where? Well, everywhere courtesy of the North Riverside Parks and Rec’s Mobile DJ, Bryant Rouleau, who’s been blasting music while slowly snaking through the village from west to east.
The Mobile DJ is part of a larger “unity” campaign being rolled out this week by the village of North Riverside to help residents maintain a connection with their neighbors, first responders and other village officials during a time when large community gatherings have been scrapped.
“With everyone stuck at home, the village created a campaign to bring some joy to the town,” said Teresa Mrozik, the village’s recreation director.
The Mobile DJ made his first pass through the village on April 6, drawing residents out of their homes for a time to wave hello and move to the music. The plan is to start winding through town street by street, beginning at 5 p.m. each Monday at 19th Avenue and head east.
It takes about an hour to make it through each half of the village. The DJ-mobile drives slowly down each street to give people a chance to participate, but doesn’t linger in any one spot.
“We keep in motion to keep anyone from congregating,” Mrozik said.
The unity campaign really gets going this week, with the unveiling of three large banners – at the 14th Avenue Tot Spot, Village Commons and Veterans Park – emblazoned with the campaign’s slogan “Even apart, we’re better together” and the hashtag #NorthRiversideStrong.
That same slogan will also be printed on some 3,000 window signs that the village is giving out to residents. Late last week, Mrozik said the village was finalizing how best to distribute the signs. Most are likely to be given to the village’s roughly 100 block captains to pass out in their neighborhoods. There will also be a box of window signs at the Village Commons building.
Parks and Rec will also be placing boxes containing ribbons of various colors outside the Village Commons entrances. Residents are being asked to tie the ribbons on trees throughout the village to create a rainbow effect throughout the town.
On Wednesday, April 15 at 6 p.m., residents are being asked to step outside their homes and applaud to show appreciation for first responders and essential employees – many of whom work in the village’s food service businesses, grocery stores and pharmacies who are required to be in close contact daily with the public despite the danger of infection.
The Parks and Rec Department is also asking residents to “Light Up the Spirit of North Riverside” by pulling out lawn decorations and hanging strands of holiday lights on bushes and windows and then flipping the switch on Friday, April 17 to illuminate the village.
“We’re working on different community pieces with the rec department to give people something to look forward to and keep the community connected,” said Village Administrator Sue Scarpiniti.