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Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Christmas, Pearl Harbor and Chester Weger

THUMBS UP TO … spreading holiday cheer. No one wants a Grinch-like reputation, including the city of Peru. That’s why city officials this year are celebrating full-throttle with the Dec. 7 “Hometown Christmas in Peru.”

The event combines some of the regular holiday activities into one expanded event.

“This is going to be bigger than anything we’ve ever had before,” said Peru alderman Mike Sapienza. “And it’s all for the kids.”

What’s on tap? A parade, free visits and photos with Santa, treats and of course, presents. In the past, the Peru police and fire departments would go out and buy presents then deliver them to various homes in town. This year, Santa will have a present for every boy and girl that comes through the city hall council chambers.

“This year we wanted to build it up and make sure every kid got a present,” said Peru police commander Sarah Raymond.

Now that’s a heavy sleigh.

THUMBS UP TO … a somber tribute. There’s no requirement for veterans groups to carry on Peru’s traditional Pearl Harbor Day parade and ceremony. Nationwide, remembrance events have come and gone, but Peru’s ceremony marches on. The 39th annual event takes place Saturday, Dec. 7 on Water Street.
Dennis Znaniecki and “Navy Bob” Ankiewicz made a promise to Pearl Harbor survivor and parade cofounder Henry “Hank” Ellerbrock to never forget Dec. 7, 1941, nor to forget the 2,403 people who died in the attacks.
Ankiewicz died in 2018, and Ellerbrock — who was on the USS West Virginia when air attacks triggered the war in the Pacific — died in 2010. Znaniecki’s not expecting to see any Pearl Harbor survivors at this year’s ceremony, either.
But Znaniecki and cofounder “Augie” Wilke will keep that promise and pay their respects, reminding Americans that we’re not immune to foreign hostility.

THUMBS DOWN TO … paroling Chester Weger, the Starved Rock murderer.
It is difficult to say which is more troubling: Letting loose a triple-murderer or how the parole board breezily discounted future danger.
For the board to conclude Weger no longer has the capacity to kill shows tunnel vision and disdain for the facts.
They should have heeded a victim’s granddaughter. Diana Oetting warned that releasing Weger dangerously presumes that he’s rehabilitated and ready to assimilate into society.
“And if he doesn’t succeed,” Oetting said, “that’s on y’all.”
Let that sink in.

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