The Rocky Ripple for Flood Protection rally,
held Saturday, Aug. 18 in Rocky Ripple, embodied the eclectic slice of the
population for which Rocky Ripple is known. Couples in jeans and t-shirts,
young women in summer dresses, moms and dads with kids in tow, long haired biker
types, and dogs of all shapes and sizes filled Hohlt Park at the pre-protest
gathering. People were friendly, outgoing and cheerful, making the event feel
as much like a party as a protest.
Despite the festive ambiance, however, all
in attendance were serious about their opposition to the proposed floodwall
Kate Bullis, leader of the community
action group responsible for the event said "Today, we really put the unity in
community. I couldn't be prouder right now."
State Representative Ed Delaney was there and
provided a statement.
"I'm here out of concern. I don't understand why
we seem to have a stalemate. People want to be protected from floods, but they
don't want to be cut off either, and it seems like we're in a stalemate that's
unnecessary and I would hope that the Corps of Engineers would reconsider its
position. I've talked to the congressman, and so far, it seems that things are
not moving, and I'm hoping that next Thursday's hearing will be an opportunity
to shed some light on this ... I'm glad to be here to support the community in
trying to sort this out."
Robert Tomey, Rocky Ripple town council president,
urged the group via megaphone to march to the canal bridge at 53rd street. A
cherry-red truck, bed filled with sandbags, led the way. Tomey planted himself
on top of the truck and spoke to the emotions of the crowd: "We are all one
community! Butler Tarkington, 56th and Illinois, and Rocky Ripple
matter! This is our metaphor for the Corps: this is what a town of 800 people
looks like when they can't get out."
On his cue, everyone stretched out and lay
belly-up in the street in a dry-ground representation of floating bodies.
As everyone rose, young people stooped to
help their older neighbors up from the street in a physical display of cooperation.
Michael Mooney, a self-described elder of the community, stepped up on the
truck bed to read his tribute to the neighborhood, borrowing lines from John Steinbeck's
"Rocky Ripple is 'a poem, a feeling, a
quality of light . . .' It is a community where folks appreciate the river, the
beauty and wildlife that surrounds and also the uniqueness of their sometimes
He finished with the statement, "Saving
the Rocky Ripples of our planet is no small matter. It's how we celebrate and
preserve the dance of life."