Go Gurnee features kickoff for Walking program

Above, Cindy Ellwein and Linnea Anderson of Gurnee, loosen up to some dance music.

by Long Hwa-shu

To promote the health of its residents, Gurnee kicked off “Go Gurnee” Sunday afternoon at Viking Park.

Despite inclement weather, more than 300 villagers showed up. They later took a 30-minute walk, the heart of the program, sponsored by the Gurnee Park District.

Doing "YMCA" is Mayor of Gurnee Kristina Kovarik, left, and Nancy Carlson, president of Grandwood Park District. Her husband Steve Carlson, Lake County board member is right. - Tina Johansson photos
Dancing to “YMCA” is Mayor of Gurnee Kristina Kovarik, left, and Nancy Carlson, president of Grandwood Park District. Her husband Steve Carlson, Lake County board member is right. – Tina Johansson photos

Mayor Kristina Kovarik set the tone and example by swinging back and forth on a gentle slope near the band shell where an enthusiastic crowd was assembling.

“I’m doing my warm-ups for the walk,” said she, donning a knit cap to ward off the cold.

Libby Baker, vice-president of Gurnee Park District speaks at Go Gurnee.
Libby Baker, vice-president of Gurnee Park District speaks at Go Gurnee.

“There are more people overweight in our country than having normal weight,” she added to stress the importance of exercise.

To set herself as an example, she said she makes a point to walk 20-30 minutes every day after work to unwind and to think about what to do the following day as chief executive of the fast-growing village of 32,000 – home of Gurnee Mills, the shopping mecca, and Six Flags Great America amusement park.

As people gathered, many coming with their four-legged friends for the walk, milling amid them were Gurnee princesses and mascots. Some were dressed as superheroes to add pizzazz to the event.

Mascots and super heroes were on hand at the Go Gurnee event.
Mascots and super heroes made it fun.

Among elected officials attending were State Senator Melinda Bush of Grayslake and County Board member Steve Carlson (7th District), who came with his wife, Nancy, who is president of Grandwood Park District – a small community north of Gurnee.

“I hope to lose 15 pounds (by following up with the program),” Carlson said, confiding that he weighs a hulking 250 pounds. Visitors received  Go Gurnee walking logs to help track their progress.

Village and park district officials hoped that villagers will make a habit of taking a walk every day, and persuading friends and neighbors to do the same.

Audrey Hetman, Little Miss Lake County of Illinois State helps out at Go Gurnee.
Audrey Hetman, Little Miss Lake County of Illinois State helps out at Go Gurnee. Audrey of Gurnee is in 4th grade at Prairie Crossing Charter School in Grayslake.

Quoting a newspaper article, Mayor Kovarik told the crowd that walking is more beneficial than bicycling and swimming, and it is better for your mind and is also a great stress-reliever.

“We have good sidewalks and trails in the village. Take advantage of them,” she said before the walk started.

Despite it being May 1, there was a chill in the air. Participants, many wearing “Go Gurnee Champion” T-shirts, nevertheless were at the park for more than 30 minutes. Daffodils and tulips were blooming which helped – a sure sign that warmer weather is just around the corner.

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