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2018 highlights from Thornton Township

2018 was a big year in Lansing, and The Lansing Journal recorded hundreds of stories. In these last days of 2018 and the opening days of 2019, we’ll share some highlights chosen by different members of The Lansing Journal writing team. Ernst Lamothe is Director of Communications for Thornton Township, and he also contributes regularly to The Lansing Journal. Below, he remembers five significant Township events from the past year.

by Ernst Lamothe Jr.

Ernst Lamothe Jr.
THORNTON TOWNSHIP, Ill. (January 2019) – Thornton Township strives to provide the best services for its residents. As the largest township in Illinois, we understand and have high expectations coming into every year. That includes the educational and entertaining programs we offer our community. This year we continued to elevate our game and created some of the most interesting and informative events. Here are the top five in no particular order.

Black Panther meets Black Panther

Black Panther
As early as 8:20am on a February morning, crowds began lining up outside Lansing’s Cinema 8 for a special preview of the Black Panther.

As part of our 2018 Black History Month program, we rented out Lansing’s Cinema 8 theater for a free one-of-a kind showing of the Black Panther movie. The movie went on to gross more than $1.9 billion worldwide and become the second-highest-grossing film in 2018. Our showing featured guest speaker Dr. Jamal Turner, founder of the University of California-Berkley Black Panther student chapter in 1967. He spoke about the far-reaching work of the organization, which included cooking thousands of meals a week for poor children and setting up free health clinics. He urged those who attended to learn from the past to move forward in the future.

Honoring great women

Four women, including Lansing’s Vivian Payne, were recognized at the 2018 Women of Honor event. (Photos provided)

Every year Thornton Township honors four or five women who have served our community well. This year, Lansing hosted the 10th Women of Honor celebration, at the Serbian Social Center. The honorees were Dr. Sallie Penman (South Holland Village Clerk), Joyce Forbes (District 148 School Board member and president), Vivian Payne (Lansing Village Clerk and South Suburban College Trustee), and Rose McGill (community activist). “These women are an incredible example of people who do service because they believe it is right and not to receive attention,” said Frank M. Zuccarelli, Thornton Township Supervisor.

Largest event of the year

Thornton Township Supervisor Frank Zuccarelli (in white) chose the campus of South Suburban College as the location of this year’s Taste of Thornton Township. The additional space allowed an already big event to be even bigger this year. (Photo: Ernst Lamothe Jr.)

Our 2018 Taste of Thornton Township was bigger and better than any previous year. Moving the event to South Suburban College gave us more room for more food and craft vendors and the largest number of entertainers we’ve ever had. Our very own Trysh Granberry (“America’s Got Talent” contestant) opened, and Lakeside headlined. Free activities for the kids included face painting, carnival rides, games, back-to-school haircuts, book bags with school supplies, and a petting zoo. “This year’s Taste was better than last year. More people came out this year than last year,” said Tui M. Muse, Taste Chairman and Human Relations Commissioner. “The car show was excellent, and the entertainment was fantastic.”

Toy and food giveaway

Santa visited Thornton Township in December and listened carefully to requests. (Photo provided)
Thornton Township, gave away more than 4,500 toys to community residents as well as thousands of holiday food baskets during its annual Christmas Care program. It’s a tradition that has become a staple of the Township’s December programs for the past two decades, in an effort to make the holidays more enjoyable for families. Each child receives at least three individually wrapped gifts. “The township enjoys helping families. That is what local government is supposed to do,” said Joyce Washington, Thornton Township Trustee. “The community really comes out for this program, and we are going to continue having this event for our residents.”

World-renowned speaker

Jane Elliott addressed a crowd of about 320 on October 19. (Photo: Nate Fields)

Thornton Township’s Human Relations Commission hosted Dr. James Lawrence and Jane Elliot, who is most known for her groundbreaking “Blue eyes-Brown eyes” experiment. A former third-grade teacher, Elliot has spent most of her life as an anti-racism activist and educator. “If you want to be a racist, you go and be a racist,” she told the audience of over 300. “But if you bring it to me, you will learn very very shortly that your problem is ignorance. It is not skin color but your ignorance about skin color, and I will not tolerate it.”

We look forward to continuing to serve Lansing and all of Thornton Township with a variety of events and programs throughout 2019.

Thornton Township news affects Lansing, so we are glad to have Ernst Lamothe reporting for us. To make sure you don’t miss out, subscribe to our daily email and receive Lansing news headlines in your email each morning:


Ernst Lamothe Jr.
Ernst Lamothe Jr.
Ernst Lamothe currently serves as Communications Manager for Thornton Township and brings two decades of journalism experience to that role. "I believe it is important to educate and inform people about their world," he says.