(CBS) — In 2002, a River Forest neighborhood wanted to remember the victims of 9/11 and give back to the community on the first anniversary of the terror attacks.
“Our block decided that we wanted to mark that first anniversary by doing something in the community and we wanted to involve the kids on the block so we decided to have a lemonade stand and donate the proceeds to a local children’s charity,” said Patty Henek, event organizer.
That first year in 2002, the stand on Bonnie Brae raised $400.
“It just snowballed from there and since then, we’ve raised over $180,000,” said Henek.
Now, every September 11th, the neighbors gather for the Kids Helping Kids 9/11 LemonAid Stand. Over the years, the event has turned into a festival filled with food, drink and live entertainment.
“Every year we set up all sorts of activities, food, lemonade on the block. We close the street and it takes on a block party, festive atmosphere.”
Henek expects an even bigger turnout this year for the 15th anniversary.
“We usually estimate numbers by cups and last year we used upwards of 3,000 cups.”
The Kids Helping Kids 9/11 LemonAid Stand will be Sunday, Sept. 11 from 3-7 p.m. on Bonnie Brae Drive in River Forest. The opening ceremony will feature musical performances by the Oak Park River Forest marching band and choral group.
Proceeds from LemonAid 2016 will benefit the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry and PING! (Providing Instruments for the Next Generation). The goal is to raise $40,000.
“We decided to spread the wealth and donate to two charities this year.”
In 2011, in recognition of the residents’ efforts, the Village Board of River Forest approved a resolution providing for an honorary designation of the 700 block of Bonnie Brae as “ LemonAid Place.”
“It is such a tragedy and a sad day in our history but it brings people together. We don’t want to ever forget why we are doing thing in the first place but we’re glad to be able to put a positive spin on things.”