VILLA PARK – Hockey fever is in the air with the Chicago Blackhawks playing in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Locals are sporting their Hawks sweaters, hats and T-shirts; homes and businesses are displaying their Blackhawks flags, banners and other paraphernalia and on Oakland Avenue in Villa Park, there's a village fire hydrant with a fresh coat of paint and as much hockey spirit as the rest of town.
About two weeks ago, 20-year-old Michelle Karges put the finishing touches on a hydrant made to look like Tommy Hawk, the Blackhawks' official mascot. She and her family decided last year that they wanted to participate in the village's Adopt-a-Hydrant program, which allows residents or businesses to decorate local fire hydrants with the proceeds going to support the Villa Park Fire Department.
They got the OK to start painting this spring and started developing their design.
"My family, we're pretty big Blackhawks fans," Karges said. "We wanted to do something Blackhawk-related."
Karges, who will be a junior at Iowa State University in the fall and is majoring in graphic design, said she was primarily responsible for painting the hydrant, but had help from her family and a very curious girl in the neighborhood.
She used a photo from the Internet to ensure that Tommy Hawk the hydrant closely resembles the real thing. She decided to paint him with a red home jersey, which Karges said is her favorite Hawks uniform.
"I tried to make it as true as he looks," she said.
The entire project took about two weeks for Karges, who is working two jobs this summer. But she still enjoys to paint and draw during her free time.
Many of the neighbors in the 200 block of South Oakland Avenue where she lives also are big Blackhawks fans, so they're enjoying the hydrant, she said. It's also been fun to see many people stopping on the street to check out the decorated hydrant and to take pictures with it, Karges said.
"Especially on game day, we see people driving down the street to take pictures with it wearing their jerseys," she said.