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Forest Preserves of Cook County promotes ‘Memorial Day at Home’

With extended closures over the holiday, suggested alternatives for a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend

information provided by the Forest Preserves of Cook County

COOK COUNTY, Ill. (May 19, 2020) – Over the three-day holiday weekend, the forest preserves throughout Cook County are typically full of visitors enjoying cookouts, picnics, and family gatherings. This year, with health and safety guidelines in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, the Forest Preserves urges people to make Memorial Day memorable at home.

“Memorial Day is a time when we pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” said Arnold Randall, the General Superintendent of the Forest Preserves of Cook County (FPCC). “As an unofficial start to summer, the holiday is always one of our busiest weekends in the Forest Preserves. This year, that’s not a safe way to celebrate. We hope that with Memorial Day at Home, our patrons will find other creative ways to honor the fallen and to be with family.”

For Memorial Day weekend, the Forest Preserves is adding two preserves to the list of six sites that have weekend parking closures to limit the size of crowds: Dan Ryan Woods and Schiller Woods. The Forest Preserves is also extending the weekend parking closures to Memorial Day itself at Busse Woods, Maple Lake, Saganashkee Slough, Catherine Chevalier Woods, LaBagh Woods, and Bunker Hill. At all these sites, parking lots will be closed Friday, May 22, through Monday, May 25.

Due to COVID-19, picnics, cookouts, group sports, and gatherings with people outside one’s household are prohibited at all FPCC sites, and physical distancing must be observed at all times.

FPCC is promoting Memorial Day at Home activities as alternatives to a cookout or family get-together in the preserves:

  • Remember the reason for Memorial Day: Find a creative way to honor those who have given their lives while serving in the Armed Forces. This year, thanks can include our first responders and medical staff on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Share your grill: Post a photo of your impressive or intriguing barbecue, family meal, or famous family recipe. Tag the Forest Preserves on Instagram (@fpdcc), and they will share the best of the best.
  • Order in from a local restaurant: Support local businesses in these difficult times and enjoy a meal from a favorite spot or a local restaurant you have never tried before.
  • Connect with nature: Enjoy the natural world in your backyard or neighborhood. Find activities, information and videos about local plants and wildlife from Forest Preserves naturalists at

In mid-March, the Forest Preserves of Cook County cancelled all public events and closed specific sites that do not easily allow for social distancing, including nature centers, campgrounds, and the Swallow Cliff stairs. Since then, the Forest Preserves has closed sites or parking lots at some preserves in response to changing conditions or public health guidelines.

For updated information on site closures, event cancellations, recommended visitor precautions, and more, visit the Forest Preserves COVID-19 web page:

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  1. I encourage families to dig into their own history as well, as in, honoring those family members that have served with memories of Their stories and how it effected those left at home. It is Important for us to share with our children as to never forget our history. Remember all those who gave & their families.

  2. Just wanted to share my experience at Bunker Hill on 5/23. It was not only the parking lot at Bunker Hill that was closed this weekend. The lots were closed, but so were any activities in the grassy areas, including just walking. I was there with my household- three adults, a three-year-old, and a nine-year-old dog. We we did not bring a picnic, we did not cookout, we did not do a group sport, we did not gather with people outside our household. We did stop under a tree to eat a snack and get a drink of water ~50 feet from any other people and we walked in an grassy area and blew some bubbles~50 feet from any other people. We were told to stay off the grass and get on the trail. We walked on the trail on our way into the park, there were a number of bikes and congestion from walkers/runners/rollerbladers. Nothing in this article or on the FPCC website mentioned that the only part of the park that would be open was the paved trail. With the bikes and congestion, the trail did not feel like a safe place for my child, dog, or the rest of my family. We visited the park last weekend and walked all over the grassy areas and had a wonderful and safe time. Both visits, we wore masks and honored much more than the six feet of social distancing. It was disappointing that the listed restrictions online for the park were very different than the actual restriction on-site for this weekend. The website truly should have stated that the park space itself was closed and the only part of the preserve that was open was the paved trail. Hopefully this info will help others make decisions if being at the preserve this weekend is the right choice for their family.

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