Pulse: Mr. McFeely’s speedy delivery to help local families
From sun staff and freelance reports January 30, 2013 1:28PM
Actor David Newell, best known as Mr. McFeely on Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood signs a photo for fan Mason Beckenmeier of Naperville Sunday during an appearance Sunday at the DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville. He visited in support of a clothing and sweater drive founded by Fred Rogers that has collected more than five million pieces of warm clothing. Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 2, 2013 6:05AM
On Sunday, Mr. McFeely of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood made a “speedy delivery” to DuPage Children’s Museum to launch a monthlong sweater and clothing drive sponsored by the museum. Actor David Newell’s visit was timed to correspond with the closing of the traveling exhibit, “How People Make Things,” inspired by Mr. Rogers’ factory tour segments.
“By bringing Mr. McFeely, we give attention to being a good neighbor and helping those who are less fortunate,” says T.J. Hicks, DuPage Children’s Museum’s director of integrated brand marketing.
Newell was hopeful the event and sweater drive would perpetuate colleague Fred Rogers’ legacy. “We want to keep his philosophy and his approach to childhood and his respect for children in the forefront,” Newell explains.
The Mr. Rogers’ Sweater Drive, like many hosted in communities across the country, will benefit local families. All donations will be given to DuPage PADS and Hesed House.
To date, Newell says 5 million sweaters have been distributed through Mr. Rogers’ Sweater Drives.
In spite of icy conditions, hundreds of people turned out for the event. And donation bins filled quickly.
Future visitors to the museum are encouraged to make their own “speedy delivery” of new and gently used sweaters and winter clothing.
Cure for crazy?
Barry hopes not as he touts new book
Column writer and novelist Dave Barry returns to Naperville and Anderson’s Bookshop on Feb. 11. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author will read and sign copies of his latest book, “Insane City,” which is his first solo novel in a decade.
The book features a complicated tale about a groom and his posse of groomsmen on the eve of his Miami wedding. Barry told The Sun that the book’s problems are endless.
“It’s about a very elaborate, very expensive wedding in Miami where everything imaginable goes wrong,” he said. “For example, the wedding ring, which cost a fortune, winds up in the hands of an orangutan named Trevor. And that’s one of the lesser problems. One of the issues when you write a book versus a column is you need a plot so people have a reason to care about the characters — even Trevor the orangutan.”
Barry has visited Naperville and Anderson’s before and said he always enjoys the venue.
“Independent booksellers are wonderful for, among other things, the way they bring readers and authors together,” Barry said. “Anderson’s is one of the best there is. I’ve had many great events there, and there’s always a terrific crowd.”
The world we live in seems to be getting crazier, but Barry says for a writer like him, crazy is necessary.
“I hope there isn’t any cure for the madness we see all around us,” he said with his usual satire. “I hope not, because then I’d run out of material.”
See what else Barry has up his sleeve beginning at 7 p.m. Feb. 11.
Club heads to Washington, D.C.
The Naperville Men’s Glee Club is going to Washington, D.C. But they don’t plan to have any effect on politics. They plan to entertain.
This weekend, the group will be participating in The National Presidents Day Choral Festival at the Kennedy Center in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination. The 32 singers, who also are bringing with them some staff members and a number of spouses, will join with other selected choral groups from around the country to participate in the national event to salute JFK.
“It will be a tremendous experience to hear all of the parts being sung together with the orchestra at our first full rehearsal,” said John Bodine, president of the Naperville Men’s Glee Club, who explained that while they have been working hard on the music, they only do the tenor and bass parts.
While in Washington, D.C., the group also will perform a vespers recital on their own at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
“We’re excited about this venue because we’ll be on our own, a cappella,” Bodine said, “and anticipating the haunting reverberations of our music under the vast gothic arches.”
The trip is part of a yearlong celebration of the Naperville Men’s Glee Club’s 25th anniversary.
Bigwigs to attend Democratic event
DuPage County’s Democratic organization will tip its hat to George Washington and Abe Lincoln well in advance of the Feb. 18 federal holiday honoring their birthdays, but that could be to ensure the best possible showing of its distinguished guest list. That appears to be the effect, anyway.
Among the dignitaries who plan to attend the Presidents’ Day Gala on Feb. 10 at the Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace are former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell; Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn; Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon; Attorney General Lisa Madigan; Secretary of State Jesse White; U.S. Reps. Bill Foster, Mike Quigley and Tammy Duckworth; state Sens. Don Harmon, Tom Cullerton and Dan Kotowski; state Reps. Deb Conroy and Kathleen Willis; DuPage County Board members Tony Michelassi, Laurie Nowak and Liz Chaplin; and DuPage County Forest Preserve District Commissioner Shannon Burns.
More information can be found at dupagedemocrats.com.
State lauded for transparency
Accountability and transparency are all the rage, if you sit in on many meetings of elected bodies, which we do here at The Sun. Most meetings will include at least one or two mentions of keeping operations as open to the public as possible — which is wise, given that taxpayers are the customers, and the customer’s always ... well, you know.
So it’s refreshing to see that Illinois finished at the top of the Sunshine Review’s annual transparency report card, turning in a B+ performance (nobody got an A). The land of Lincoln appears to be a place of extremes; perhaps because of that sticky pension issue, the state also has the distinction of the nation’s worst bond rating.
Elsewhere, but still here, local counties did pretty well in the recently released ratings, too. Will County snagged an A+, while DuPage, which was marked down slightly for not having personalized emails for department heads, got an A-.
Even closer to home, that town that seems to do almost everything right, Naperville, earned an A+.
Local schools high on campus security
Three nearby colleges ranked near the top of the list in a recent ranking of Illinois campus safety published by StateUniversity.com.
Benedictine University is the state’s third-safest, according to the study, which listed the Lisle campus at fifth in the 2011 report. Aurora University also moved up in the class ranking, from 10th to fifth place. And College of DuPage was listed as the seventh safest, after coming in eighth a year ago.
Researchers named Arkansas State University at Beebe the nation’s safest. The campus saw just one theft among its 4,689 enrollees last year.
The full report is at stateuniversity.com.
Local cheer teams head to state
When the 2013 Illinois High School Association competitive cheerleading state finals begin today, five local teams will have reason to cheer.
Varsity cheerleaders from Neuqua Valley, Naperville Central, Naperville North and Metea Valley advanced to this weekend’s competition at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.
In its eighth year, the competitive cheerleading competition draws 100 teams from around the state who will compete for the title. State champions will be crowned in four classes: small, medium, large and coed over the course of the weekend.
Can’t make it but want to cheer on your favorite athletes? The competition will be streamed live on www.IHSA.tv and available on-demand after the event.