A core of Morton Grove American Legion veterans and businesses, aided by comrades and other companies from all over the northwest suburbs, will again craft a home away from home on Thanksgiving for 50 Navy recruits from the Great Lakes training base.
Celebrating its 5th Navy Day, will serve a full holiday dinner, provide entertainment and link the sailors to home via phones and computers at legion headquarters, 6144 Dempster St. Most of the food and equipment is donated by an array of local businesses and individuals to cover costs.
Thanksgiving Committee chairman Casey Bachara is in overdrive now coordinating a slew of moving parts to finalize the Thanksgiving program.
“What’s nice about it, it’s not only Morton Grove, but also a lot of surrounding areas pitch in and donate,” Bachara said. “It’s a big community thing. All the donations help defray costs."
The Navy recruits will arrive around 9 a.m. and stay most of the day, returning to the base by 5 p.m., Bachara said. By then, they should be stuffed with both holiday food and cheer.
“It’s a fun day. Recruits, under the rules, stay at the post," he said. "The big moment will be when they sing 'Anchors Aweigh'."
Joining Bachara on the post’s committee are Morton Grove residents Wally Zawisza, who handles the food arrangements; Joe Gesicki, who works with Bachara on setting up the phone bank and decorations, and Ray Ariaz, who coordinates the entertainment. Other committee members who live in nearby suburbs are Greg Padovani, who coordinates with the Navy; Bob Ferraro, who arranges for the bus transportation from Cook County School Bus Co., and David Lee, handling media relations.
Among Morton Grove businesses contributing to the event are , and . Village Creamery in Niles donates the ice cream, while Costco in Niles has five large apple and five large pumpkin pies. Pennant Foods in Northlake will be dispatching the sweet rolls and muffins.
“A lot of sweets will be donated by Legion wives and friends,” Bachara said. “Our auxiliary women will be involved in serving food. We have quite a few volunteers.”
Free phone and e-mail to all corners of the globe will be donated by AT&T, so sailors can contact family. Chicago Rush cheerleaders will provide live entertainment and Best Buy will be donating XBOX video games, while free movie rentals are featured as well.
Morton Grove Mayor Dan Staackmann and other village officials will join in greeting the sailors.
Bachara said the Legion post will accept additional volunteers and contributions. He can be reached at 847-299-3613. Contributions can be sent to Thanksgiving Committee, American Legion Post 134, 6144 Dempster St., Morton Grove, IL 60053.