In Bolingbrook’s Stonegate Subdivision, friends and family members will come together on Saturday (Sept. 14) for their annual block party—only this is no ordinary block party.
Sure, there will be a cookout.
And event coordinator Luccia Millan has invited everyone to bring a dish to pass.
There will be a jumpy obstacle course and a mechanical bull ride. Also, there will be 10x15 American flag hanging from a street lamp and PVC piping in honor of all the men and women in the subdivision—past and present—who have served this country.
The flag once was flown at a military post in Iraq. Now, it serves as a reminder of Sgt. First Class Anthony Quintero, who has served 14 years in the Army but will not be able to attend the party because he currently is stationed in the Philippines. His wife, Gail, lives just down the block from Millan with their two children.
“This was actually given to me by a gentlemen who lives on our street,” Millan said of the flag. “He just got sent overseas. He left behind his wife. He’s only been here one year for the block part. And this year he came to me and said, ‘I got your letter and your notice. I really want to be involved. But I won’t be here.’
“He said, ‘I have this American flag that was flown in Iraq. I really love it. And I’d love it if you could display this.’ And just because the party’s on the 14th and today is 9/11, I thought what a perfect way to honor this family and the men who have fought for our country and who are still fighting for our freedom.”
Millan, who works as an entertainment coordinator with Rock10 and books concerts in the Chicago area, describes herself as a patriot. She is expecting 500 or more of like-thinking folks to attend the Stonegate Subdivision block party.
The part begins at noon on Saturday and will run well into the early-morning hours of Sunday—one of the highlights being a live telecast of the Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez fight on a giant theater screen. The Bolingbrook Veteran’s Assocation will have a tent and the Bolingbrook Fire Department plans to stop by, too.
“I had a grandfather who served; he passed away when I was younger,” Millan said. “I can’t remember those days. But to see what the family members go through now—I see what my friend who lives with me goes through and how emotional it is.
“Her brother is overseas and it’s just not knowing if they’ll ever come back. How are they doing? There are times when she doesn’t speak to him for months. I can’t even imagine.”
Millan’s friend—Michelle Segovia—actually objected when her brother, Luis, enlisted. He is an Army infantryman stationed now in Guam. He will be at the block part—in spirit, not in person.
“We might not have them here to have fun and what not, but it’s like a mini-celebration and thank you for serving the country,” Segovia said. “I think of Luis every day. I’m very proud of what he’s doing. We didn’t agree with his decision to join—not at first.
“But he loves it. He’s been in the Army for eight years now. But, at first, when you get the news, it’s like, ‘No, we’re family. We’re united. And we have to stick together.’ But he was firm on his decision. He said, ‘I’m leaving.’ He’s fighting for a bigger family now. And I’m more open-minded and really happy he decided to go.”
The stories of service duty on the block nearly outnumber the population in the Stonegate Subdivision.
One involves Millan’s next door neighbor, Remey Comoda. Her son, James, is in Afghanistan right now.
“She’s very worried,” Millan said. “This past year—she’s had a rough year with her house catching on fire, then finally being able to move back in, and she’s a surgical nurse. She had an injury to her arm and they actually laid her off. And, now, her son’s in Afghanistan. So, she’s a wreck.
“She is not herself. She is usually a very outgoing person—very, very happy and talking all the time. I’ve barely seen her this year. But I was able to talk to her the other day. I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ She let it all out and vented about what she’s going through and her main worry is over her son.”
Millan said the block party will be special for Comoda and so many others.
“She just found out her daughter’s engaged,” Millan said. “She will be meeting his family for the first time on Saturday. So, it’s actually bringing more family in to give her that support.”