By Ken Trainor
It's a time-honored tradition to go to Oak Park's "little Ravinia" over the summer, catch theatrical performances in Austin Gardens, and bring a bottle of wine.
Some Oak Parkers knew, and some didn't, that when they pop that cork in a public park, they're breaking the law.
"Never more," says the village, with its approval of a liquor license for Festival Theatre at Monday night's village board meeting.
The liquor license clears up the discrepancy between the law against drinking in the park and the tacit acceptance of allowing booze at Festival Theatre's performances.
"Our staff has been put in a tough situation when it comes to that enforcement component," said Jan Arnold, executive director of the Park District of Oak Park.
Under the new ordinance approved by the board, the park district will pay a $500 fee for the license and put its employees through the state's BASSET training program that instructs them to identify intoxicated individuals.
Arnold said the change will go unnoticed by residents used to attending the theater performances.
"My understanding is that in my five years [as executive director] there's not been one negative situation [involving] alcohol," Arnold said.
"We don't believe it will change the experience at all," she said.