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Mane Event is both a pre- and post-party for Arlington Million
By Eileen O. Daday | Daily Herald Correspondent

Heather McHugh, of Arlington Heights, dresses for the occasion at the 2009 Mane Event.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer, 2009

The Mane Event is a street party in downtown Arlington Heights.

 

Daily Herald file photo

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Published: 8/19/2010 11:07 AM

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If you go

What: Mane Event, the Million Dollar Block Party in Arlington Heights.

When: 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Where: Blocked off streets at Vail Avenue and Campbell Street in downtown Arlington Heights.

Cost: Free.

Details: www.discoverarlington.com.

Don't look now, but the Wells Fargo Wagon is a comin' down the street, for real.

Straight out of Meredith Willson's "The Music Man," the Wells Fargo Wagon pulls up to the Mane Event on Friday, for the end-of-the-summer block party in downtown Arlington Heights that celebrates Saturday's running of the Arlington Million, the premiere race of the season at Arlington Park.

This year, its 10th anniversary, village leaders have joined with business members in the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce to stretch the party into two nights. Chamber members and their restaurant partners will mount a Taste of Arlington from 5-11 p.m. on Saturday.

Mane Event activities kick off at 5 p.m. Friday with a mix of free family entertainment, including as free pony rides, an inflatable jump house, roving balloon twisters and juggler, as well as food booths, and live music.

The main stage opens at 6:30 p.m. with Electric Company, a rock band made up of music students from the Metropolis School of the Performing Arts, before Hi-Infidelity comes on at 8 p.m., playing cover music from Journey, REO Speedwagon, Bon Jovi and Survivor among others.

The Wells Fargo Wagon, organizers figure, adds another entertainment destination for families, while staying within the event's overall theme. Look for it in front of the Wells Fargo Advisors, 150 W. Campbell St. in Arlington Heights.

"The Mane Event is all about horses, so adding the stagecoach as an attraction seemed like a natural extension," says Kevin Seifert, chairman of the Special Events Commission in Arlington Heights, who adds that it will only be there on Friday.

Steven Fromm, a Wells Fargo branch manager in Barrington, joined the Arlington Heights Special Events Commission this year, and right away he introduced the idea of bringing in the stagecoach as an attraction.

"We were hoping to be able to give rides in the downtown area," Fromm says, "but there were too many logistical concerns given the size of the wagon and the horses."

Instead, he says, families will be able to climb aboard, explore the interior, and take photos of the 1860s stagecoach that was pulled by a team of six horses to deliver overland mail and other goods.

Saturday's Taste of Arlington will feature nearly 20 restaurants and dining outlets, offering a variety of menu items, while listening to the music of ARRA.

The rock band comes on at 8:30 p.m. and plays cover hits by likes of Boston, Styx, Rush, Van Halen, Aerosmith and Foreigner.

At the Taste, families can enjoy traditional picnic fare, like hamburgers, brats and pulled pork sandwiches from Harry's, or corned beef sandwiches from Peggy Kinnane's, or even pizza from Armand's.

Those looking for more exotic food can sample the spicy chicken skewers from Big Shots, or pad thai and egg rolls from Bangkok Café, and shrimp ceviche with avocado from Salsa 17.

Adding a Taste of Arlington has been on a wish list of chamber members for years, but new president, Dr. Joe Favia, pledged to make it happen this year, even in a weakened economy.

"I made it part of my installation speech (in January)," Favia says. "The majority of restaurants wanted to have one, but we knew we had to find sponsors to help make it happen."

Verizon signed on as the evening's sponsor, with presidential sponsorships by chamber members helping to underwrite it.

"For several years, our restaurant partners have been asking to include a second night to the Mane Event, since it is so successful," says Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jon Ridler.

Seifert and the rest of the Special Events Commission had been looking to push the Mane Event into a two-day street fest, but needed partners to do it.

"The idea was really hatched out of feedback from people that suggested to make the Mane Event multiday," Seifert says. "I think it's a great way to extend the fun."