North Riverside resident Tony Novak and the rest of the families who live in the 2400 block of 7th Avenue said “thanks” to the village’s firefighters, paramedics, police officers, emergency dispatchers, public works employees, village hall staff, recreation department staff and elected officials last week, delivering 89 specially designed coffee cups to them in appreciation for keeping the village working during the COVID-19 crisis.

On June 17, Novak displayed all 89 coffee mugs on the front lawn of his home before delivering them to the village the next day. Each mug has a photo representing a village department, with the employee’s name and title on the other side.

Novak and his wife, Joni, have lived on 7th Avenue for 40 years but have lived in North Riverside even longer. Novak served as a member of the North Riverside Fire Department for 28 years, retiring in 1997 at the rank of lieutenant.

The inspiration for the coffee mugs was a mug Novak made for himself upon his retirement from the fire department. It has served as a memento of that important time of his life, and the 89 new mugs will be a memento of this time in the current employees’ lives.

The printing on the mugs was done by T-Shirts and Trophies in Brookfield.

“After I retired from the fire department, I ordered a coffee cup with North Riverside Fire on one side and my name on the other, Lieutenant Tony Novak. This is my favorite coffee cup I use each day,” Novak wrote in a letter to neighbors explaining his initiative and asking for their financial support to make it happen. “Each day I hold that coffee cup brings back great memories of all the people I (we) helped during my career.

“Knowing how much joy this gives me each day, I told Joni this would be a great tribute for all our N.R. employees working during the COVID-19 to have their own personal coffee cup.”