Festival balloon launch to honor late city clerk
When Jessica Rogoza’s dad, an Edwardsville firefighter, would bring her to Edwardsville City Hall as a child, she found a special friend in former city clerk, the late Phyllis Freeman.
“She pretty much just took me as one of her grandkids: She gave me candy, she asked me questions,” said Rogoza, a 2012 Bonner Springs High School graduate. “… She wanted the best not only for me but for everybody around her.”
The new festival is planned for Friday and Saturday at Edwardsville City Park, 1200 Blake St. For more information visit bsedwchamber.org.
Noon 3rd Annual Smokin’ in the Ville
5-9 p.m. Carnival Rides ($5 armband or $2 per ride)
5-9 p.m. Craft & Food Vendors Open
7-9 p.m. Groove Pilots Band
9:30-11:30 p.m. Revelations (Journey Tribute Band)
7:30-9 a.m. Kiwanis Club Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, $10,
at Edwardsville Elementary School
9 a.m. - 7 p.m. Carnival Rides ($10 armband or $2 per ride)
9 a.m. - 7 p.m. Craft & Food Vendors Open
10 a.m. Parade (meet at City Hall at 9:30am)
10 a.m. Car Show
10:45 a.m. Balloon Launch in Honor of Phyllis Freeman, $1 per balloon, proceeds benefit Relay for Life
11 a.m. Homemade Chili, Pie, & Salsa Competition (entry deadline is 11:15am, held at shelter house)
11:30-3:30 p.m. Stage Entertainment ~ Grand Master Kim’s Taekwondo, Edwardsville Elementary Eagle Choir, The Dance Factory, and more
3:30 p.m. Competition Winner Announcements for BBQ, Chili, Pie, Salsa, & Parade
4:30-5 p.m. Blues Brothers Impersonators (One Night Only)
5-7 p.m. Edwardsville Idol
The friendship continued as Rogoza grew and began volunteering to help Freeman organize Edwardsville’s former annual festival, Autumnfest, about six years ago. So Rogoza knew when work began to plan the new Edwardsville Days festival, which takes place this weekend, Freeman needed to be memorialized in some way.
“I went to sleep one night and woke up in the morning thinking about Phyllis, and I knew we had to do something,” Rogoza said.
Freeman’s second battle with cancer —her first was in the late 1980s — forced her to retire as city clerk last year. Her inability to help organize Autumnfest was part of the reason the 2012 festival was cancelled and a new spring festival was created instead — she almost single-handedly organized the event.
“It’s very important for people to remember her. You can ask anybody, everybody would say that Autumnfest, it was her baby,” Rogoza said. “She gave 100 percent and more than that, because she loved it.”
Freeman died Jan. 8, too soon to see the first annual Edwardsville Days, but Rogoza is making sure she is honored through a balloon launch, an event that she wants to be a mainstay of the new annual city festival. The Edwardsville Days committee readily agreed to add the balloon launch to the festival when Rogoza presented the idea.
The balloon launch is set for 10:45 a.m. Saturday at Edwardsville City Park, following the Edwardsville Days Parade, but Rogoza will begin selling balloons for the launch at the festival Friday evening. The suggested donation is at least $1 per balloon, with the proceeds going to the Kaw Valley Relay For Life, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
If those who buy balloons Friday are not able to be at the balloon launch, Rogoza said volunteers would still launch the balloon for them.
Rogoza plans to present a speech and ask for a moment of silence prior to the launch memorializing Freeman, and Freeman’s family also will be present for the launch.
The balloons will be purple, which was both Freeman’s favorite color and the color that symbolizes the fight against cancer, but those who buy a balloon have the option of selecting any other color of ribbon that correlates with the specific cancer that they or a loved one faced.
A board also will be posted at the launch site for those who buy balloons to write the names of cancer patients or survivors.
“So we’re also doing it to honor other people who have cancer or who have been lost to cancer,” Rogoza said. “… That way we can honor the person who inspired it, but we can also honor the other people who we’ve lost.”