ADDISON – Thursday evenings behind Addison Village Hall, hundreds of people gather for the aptly named summer event series Rock 'N' Wheels.
"There's really a little something for everyone," said Don Weiss, Addison's director of community relations.
Live music that varies from Latin to Motown provides entertainment, while local restaurants sell food and drinks. Kids can bounce the evening away on moon jumps, and gearheads can scope out classic cars and tricked-out motorcycles as they compete in different categories each week.
"The mayor wanted to make sure the community was engaged," Weiss said.
Since the village began organizing the weekly series about seven years ago, a group of community organizations, such as the Knights of Columbus or Americans of Italian Descent, pitch tents to share information with residents.
In addition, the Addison Historical Museum is open during the events from 6 to 8 p.m. for visitors to explore.
Outside the museum, tables of intricate crafts line Army Trail Boulevard, selling handmade jewelry and decorations.
During a recent Rock 'N' Wheels event, budding Addison entrepreneurs Natalie and Liliana Guzman set up their colorful loom bands, decorative pencils and other handmade creations next to their grandmother's table of crocheted doll dresses and detailed headbands.
"She teaches me how to crochet," said Liliana, 12, of her grandmother, Norma Santiago.
Inspiration goes both ways in the family. Norma said she started making clothes and accessories for her granddaughters about 15 years ago before she began selling them at craft fairs.
For many, the weekly Rock 'N' Wheels isn't about business, though.
"For a lot of people this is a socializing event," Weiss said.
He estimated anywhere from 500 to 700 people attend each week, but during especially popular events like "Salute the Troops" night last month, 1,000 attendees are possible.
"We try to get here as much as we can," Addison resident Dennis Naples said.
He and his wife, Nancy, celebrated their 43rd anniversary listening to The Moods play Motown on July 10.
Their granddaughters Lucy, Lola and Lyla came along to celebrate and enjoy some treats.
"People camp out," Weiss said.
Around a table filled with snacks, Rosemary Nasti and her family sat in lawn chairs, getting comfortable before the music started.
Although she's not an Addison resident, Nasti, of Elk Grove Village, said she and her troop come every week.
"Our group keeps getting bigger and bigger," said Nasti, whose father, Enzo Grisi, owns Alta Villa Banquets in Addison.
Addison Mayor Rich Veenstra said the weekly event has seen a big uptick in attendance this year, to which he credited the good food and quality entertainment.
"I think it's really important to build a sense of community," Veenstra said.
Rock 'N' Wheels Schedule
Thursday: Chicken Night, featuring Kozmos Underground (classic rock); "Best Sportster" motorcycle contest
July 31: Taco Night, featuring Señor Groove (Latin beat); "Best in Show" car contest
For details on the August Rock 'N' Wheels events, visit www.ithappensinaddison.com.