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Holiday a special time of year in Naperville

<p>Jonathan Miano / Staff photogarpher</p>

Jonathan Miano / Staff photogarpher

Hello, residents and friends of Naperville! The end of the year is almost upon us, but here in Naperville, it is a symbol of new beginnings.

Recently, the city launched its new notification system, Naper Notify, to the public. I strongly support this wonderful communication tool that allows the public to receive important city emergency and quality-of-life information through a phone call, text message, email or smart phone notification. To sign up, visit www.napernotify.com.

Much like any online service, you will create an account with a username and password and then provide your contact information. You can even indicate locations of interest to you, so that if an emergency occurs near there or work is taking place in that area, you can be notified about it. Please take a moment to sign up.

Emergency preparedness has certainly been on my mind since the terrible tornadoes ravaged downstate Illinois on Nov. 17. My wife Pat and I had tree damage in our front yard during these storms, and I was so thankful that we were spared harm. Only a few hours later, my sister Charlotte called to tell me my niece Brenda and her family had lost their home in Washington. I was so thankful that my niece and her family were not physically injured, and I know they will be fine in the long run.

I am so thankful that first responders and volunteers took such good care of them and the other tornado victims. Life truly can change in the blink of an eye, and I am equally as thankful for the swift response by Naperville residents to assist those who lost everything. Members of our City Council and city employees have relatives near Washington and helped spearhead efforts to assist.

In recent conversations with my doctor, I learned his wife took food to Washington to help feed their high school football team. Stories like this abound throughout our community, and thank you to everyone who has pitched in to help others.

The holiday season is all about giving, and our community does so in the most generous of ways. It is also a season for forgiveness and looking to the future. Recently, the large painted dragon statue that stands in my front yard was returned after being taken late one night and discarded. The youths who did this wrote Pat and me genuine, moving letters stating they were sorry and that they made a wrong choice that night.

We have forgiven them and in no way want their futures to be impacted because of this choice.

They truly went the extra mile to say they were sorry and expressed it in a meaningful way. I have great hope for these individuals’ futures, and this is truly a season to rejoice in second chances.

I am also rejoicing these days because of how well the Naperville Marathon went this year. It was a thrill to see so many runners take part. The safety precautions taken by event organizers and local law enforcement were top notch and ensured a safe experience for all.

As we move through this season, take a moment to savor your blessings and enjoy the beauty of this time. Naperville’s downtown tree lights are twinkling brightly each evening, making me think Naperville is more like “Tinseltown” this time of year! The Little Friends Parade of Lights was a joyous time for all, and it was so good to see children out and about welcoming the season to our city. Our merchants are eager for shoppers to come through their doors to find perfect gifts for their friends and family members.

As we close the book on 2013, I and the entire Naperville City Council want to wish all of you Happy Holidays and a joyous, happy and healthy New Year. May the peace and joy we have in Naperville spread throughout the country and world so that others may enjoy it.

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