The 7th Annual Festival of Sister Cities brought together residents and visitors for a great weekend celebrating Chicago Heights and our four sister cities: Wadowice, Poland; Asuogyaman District, Ghana, West Africa; Cedral, San Luis Potosi, Mexico; and San Benedetto del Tronto, Marche, Italy. The weekend was filled with a wide variety of entertainers, family fun at the carnival and great support from our local businesses and organizations.
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The festival opened with the presentation of the colors by Bloom Township Navy JROTCand rousing performances by the 206 Band and Choir. Mayor Gonzalez welcomed the crowd, as well as a host of officials and festival guests including: Illinois State Representative Anthony Deluca, 2nd Ward Alderman Sonia Perez, 3rd Ward Alderman Wanda Rodgers, 6th Ward Alderman Vincent Zaranti, 1st Ward Park District Commissioner Belinda Mosby, 6th Ward Park District Commissioner Curtis Straczek, 7th Ward Park District Commissioner Rudolfo Zuniga, SD 206 Superintendent Dr. Lenell Navarre with members of SD 206 school board, and SD 170 Principal Chris Baikauskas.
This year marked the 2nd Annual Chili Cook-off Competition between local police and firefighters from Chicago Heights and South Chicago Heights. Mayor Gonzalez was joined by South Chicago Heights Mayor Terry Matthews in support of their respective departments and they sampled all of the department’s chili concoctions!
This year, the contest featured a People’s Choice Award and an overall Chili Contest Winner. The overall taste award was chosen by an independent panel of judges comprised of gracious volunteers from the Chicago Heights Knights of Columbus, the Lions Club and a local resident. The Chicago Heights Police Department was voted the overall Chili Contest Winner for the 2nd year in a row, receiving the 1st Place trophy, with the People’s Choice Award being garnered by the Chicago Heights Fire Department.
The contest raised over $1200 in support of the charities chosen by the departments. At the end of the day, the departments were all winners as proceeds from the event were donated to the first responder’s charities of choice, along with a contribution to each department’s charity from Mayor Gonzalez. Special thanks to the Chicago Heights Fire Department & Police Department and the South Chicago Heights Fire Department & Police Department for their support and participation!
Thank you to Carmen Sendejas, chair for the 7th Annual Festival of Sister Cities, and to all of the staff and volunteers who made this another successful community celebration honoring our Sister Cities and Chicago Heights.