The Rocky Ripple for Flood Protection rally, held Saturday, Aug. 18 in Rocky Ripple, embodied the eclectic slice of the population for which Rocky Ripple is known. Couples in jeans and t-shirts, young women in summer dresses, moms and dads with kids in tow, long haired biker types, and dogs of all shapes and sizes filled Hohlt Park at the pre-protest gathering. People were friendly, outgoing and cheerful, making the event feel as much like a party as a protest.
Despite the festive ambiance, however, all in attendance were serious about their opposition to the proposed floodwall project.
Kate Bullis, leader of the community action group responsible for the event said "Today, we really put the unity in community. I couldn't be prouder right now."
State Representative Ed Delaney was there and provided a statement.
"I'm here out of concern. I don't understand why we seem to have a stalemate. People want to be protected from floods, but they don't want to be cut off either, and it seems like we're in a stalemate that's unnecessary and I would hope that the Corps of Engineers would reconsider its position. I've talked to the congressman, and so far, it seems that things are not moving, and I'm hoping that next Thursday's hearing will be an opportunity to shed some light on this ... I'm glad to be here to support the community in trying to sort this out."
Robert Tomey, Rocky Ripple town council president, urged the group via megaphone to march to the canal bridge at 53rd street. A cherry-red truck, bed filled with sandbags, led the way. Tomey planted himself on top of the truck and spoke to the emotions of the crowd: "We are all one community! Butler Tarkington, 56th and Illinois, and Rocky Ripple matter! This is our metaphor for the Corps: this is what a town of 800 people looks like when they can't get out."
On his cue, everyone stretched out and lay belly-up in the street in a dry-ground representation of floating bodies.
As everyone rose, young people stooped to help their older neighbors up from the street in a physical display of cooperation. Michael Mooney, a self-described elder of the community, stepped up on the truck bed to read his tribute to the neighborhood, borrowing lines from John Steinbeck's Cannery Row.
"Rocky Ripple is 'a poem, a feeling, a quality of light . . .' It is a community where folks appreciate the river, the beauty and wildlife that surrounds and also the uniqueness of their sometimes quirky neighbors."
He finished with the statement, "Saving the Rocky Ripples of our planet is no small matter. It's how we celebrate and preserve the dance of life."