LOMBARD – Tom Smith, owner of the old Lombard Hotel at 101 W. St. Charles Road, believes the public has a right to see what’s hidden in the upper floors of his recently purchased historic building, which was constructed in 1858.
“This is the heart of Lombard,” Smith said. “We don’t have a lot of really old buildings here and people have a right to see what times were like back then. We have a lot of things that many people will remember from their childhood. This will bring back a lot of memories.”
Lombard residents and visitors will have the opportunity to tour the historic building as part of this year’s Lilac Time festivities, which will include other new events, as well as some old favorites, like the annual Lilac Festival Parade on May 17.
Lombard Town Centre Executive Director Sarah Richardt, who is leading the tours, said Smith and his wife Margret found many historic artifacts after searching through the building’s attic.
“There’s so many things that represent the history of the building, and they’ll all be on display, both personal and business items, ranging from the turn of the century through the 70s,” RIchardt said. “Everyone’s so excited about this property. It’s such a great opportunity for people to see this and learn about Lombard’s history.”
The tours will be from noon to 3 p.m. May 9. Tickets are $10.
In addition to the new historic tours, Beatles tribute band Cavern Beat will make its first appearance at Lilac Time, said Jill Wejman, marketing and communications manager for the Lombard Park District.
“In the past we’ve always had classical or jazz bands for the Lilac Time concerts, but we switched it up this year,” Wejman said. “We just wanted more variety in our entertainment, and this band will appeal to everyone.”
Cavern Beat takes the stage in Lilacia Park on Mother’s Day on May 10. Wejman said there are several other bands playing during the two-week festival, including Bopology, a six-piece swing band from Chicago, and Istvan and his Imaginary Band, which appears on Kid’s Day on May 9.
“We’ve had Istvan for other events, and they’re really fun,” Wejman said. “They play a variety of music, so adults like them, but everything they do is for kids.”
Adults will have the opportunity again this year to try craft beer May 15 and taste new wine varieties May 16. Wejman said the beer and wine tastings, which are put on my Famous Liquors in Lombard, are always popular events during Lilac Time.
“They’re both nice evening events for adults,” she said. “They [Famous Liquors] give a talk, and then everyone can taste a variety of new, high-quality beers and different wines.”
The tradition of crowning a Lilac Queen will continue as well. Nancy Spartz, a member of the Lombard Junior Women’s Club, said the five girls on this year’s Lilac Court will make several appearances at various events during Lilac Time.
“These girls are smart,” Spartz said. “A lot of people think this is a beauty contest, but our program scores them highest on their leadership and school and community involvement, while poise and grace are at the low end. We want to promote these young ladies as leaders and want them to become leaders in their careers and communities.”
Lilac Time started in 1930 and ran for six years until there was a hiatus until 1947 because of World War II and the Great Depression, said Natalie Troiani, executive director of the Lombard Historical Society.
The first festival was part of the public unveiling of Lilacia Park in 1930. The park was the backyard of the property’s original owners, Col. William and Helen Plum, who left their home and grounds to the village of Lombard to be used as a library and park.
“Lombard has the second largest collection in the U.S., and it’s such a robust collection and a beautiful park,” Troiani said. “This is such a fun way for the community to come together, kick off summer and celebrate what makes Lombard unique.”
For more information about Lilac Time, including a full schedule of events, visit lombardlilactime.com.
Meet the Lilac Court
The Lilac Queen Coronation will be from 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday at Lilacia Park.
The court includes:
Alexandra Lyons, Glenbard East High School
Kristina Marzullo, Willowbrook High School
Erin Millett, Glenbard South High School
Leslie Schmuldt, Glenbard East High School
Martha Venchus, Glenbard East High School
Parade grand marshals
The Lombard Lilac Festival Parade recently named its grand marshals for this year's event. Retired Lombard Fire Chief Jack Jones will serve as the grand marshal, and the honorary grand marshal will be Keith Surges, a longtime Public Works Department employee who died in December. The parade will be May 17.