Prepare the drums.
And then the whistle… the 1938 jazz hit “The Big Noise from Winnetka.”
It's the perfect piece for the “noise” now blowing in Winnetka, the “old” moneybags of upscale North Beach, the “new” money, and the “enough” money to live there.
Major “noise” hit the suburbs last year when a group of dog owners decided to wow-bow proposing plans for the Winnetka Park District to upgrade Centennial Park, a fido haven and dog beach, and nearby Elder Lane Park.
Enter the villagers Randy Whitchurch, who frequently takes his beloved golden retriever Geoff to Centennial Park and suspects that a dog beach is in the crosshairs of the park's proposed 2030 beach improvement plan.
In June 2021, Whitchurch then started barking, enlisting the help of a cadre of tough Winnetka dogs to petition and protest at a village meeting, targeting the safety of the 26-year-old Winnetka dog “facility” in Centennial Park.
Then, all messed up. In August 2021, Whitchurch opened a beehive at a meeting of the Winnetka Park District.
“Who knew, when we ranted about the loss of the dog beach, it would turn into a question about the whole beach improvement project,” Whitchurch said. “One problem after another snowball.”
“It gets a lot of attention,” says Village President Winnetka Chris Rintz.
And when it was reported last year billionaire Justin Isbia, a private equity executive, has spent $40 million buying four mansions along the shores of Lake Winnetka next to Centennial Park — but not ALL on the same side — and a park district land swap may be in the works to land his estate together, dogs bark. go on a rampage.
“Everyone is really starting to ask questions,” said Whitchurch, the former CEO of a technology company.
Last April, the initial cost estimate of $21.5 million for three phases of the Winnetka Park District beach improvement appeared to surprise members of the Winnetka Park Council. Since then, the Winnetka Park District began adapting the first phase of the beach design at Elder Lane Park to bring costs down from $14 million to $10.5 million, which was already on hand.
There has been no official Winnetka Park District land swap with Ishbia due to litigation, and the Ishbia estate is now in the early process of clearing land on its three properties on the south side of Centennial Park.
“The park district appears to have taken note of public comments and is working on changing their plan to be more consistent with community input,” added Rintz.
After all the barking, Centennial Park's dog beach has likely remained where it has been for the past 26 years.
Sadly, a seaside incident in nearby Elder Lane Winnetka Park, which is close to Centennial Park, turned into tragedy on the Fourth of July. Win nett Luke Laidley, 43, father of three, died soon after jumping from a boat with friends near the beach at Elder Lane Park when they saw the children having tubing problems in the lake.
Children wear life jackets on their inner tubes. Sadly, Laidley, who was pulled back into the boat as soon as he jumped into the water, was not wearing a life jacket.
Winnetka's village's top source told Sneed he knows of no one else who drowned on Winnetka's beach, “for decades at least.”
“This is absolutely tragic,” Fire Chief Winnetka said John Ripka told Sneed on Wednesday, describing Laidley's actions as heroic.
Sneed was told there were no children at the scene when paramedics arrived at the beach.
“It's not uncommon for children to go tubing in the lake, to be pulled behind a boat parked a short but safe distance offshore,” said Whitchurch, who does not know the Laidley family. “That was fun. The boat parked properly. We see them all the time”
Laidley was a survivor of the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001. The family issued an affidavit saying that Laidley was on his second day of his first job out of college at Morgan Stanley Co. in New York, located in the World Trade Center, when the attack occurred.
“Laidley was on the 61st floor when the plane hit the first tower,” according to the statement, which read, “He was returning to Chicago after 9/11.”
The family statement described Laidley as someone who did not hesitate to act to save lives: “Luke has lived his life guided by his experiences, and he has several experiences that have enabled him to provide compassion, love, inspiration and leadership to others. He lives the hero's song.
Thursday evening, a prayer service was held at Faith, Hope and Charity Catholic Church in Winnetka, Laidley and his wife Lauren church.
The funeral service will be held at St. Joseph in Libertyville, where the family previously lived.
“This is an absolute tragedy,” Whitchurch said. “An act of heroism on a special day.”
And it must have been Winnetka's heavenly wind blowing across Centennial Beach that day.
Birthday Saturday: actor Jaden Smith, 25; actor Sophia Bush, 41, and actor kevin smoked Pork, 65. Sunday birthday: musician White Jacks, 48; musician courtney love, 59, and actor Tom Hanks, 67.