What a business owner hoped might become a new tradition in Glen Ellyn, turned out to be a one-time event.
Before village officials could vote on a special events liquor license for the , the business owner withdrew his request to hold game-day festivities in downtown following a discussion at Monday night's Board of Trustees meeting.
Tap House owner Danny Sronkoski wanted to start a new tradition in town, hosting what he said would be family cookouts at . The cookouts were to coincide with five “choice” football games, he said.
But, during the Village Board meeting Monday night, Sronkoski met opposition from Glenbard West High School Principal Jane Thorsen, Chief Phillip Norton and community members, and eventually withdrew his request.
“My concerns were the connection between alcohol and high school sports,” Police Chief Phillip Norton said.
When contacted Tuesday, Sronkoski declined to comment on the situation.
Last weekend, near the high school pending the village board’s approval of the liquor license.
The event Saturday did not create any problems, but Norton said it sent the wrong message and holding it so close to the high school only made the situation worse.
Nothing close to a tailgating event has been held downtown before, he said.
“There’s a difference between a fundraiser, booster event, held away from the school and a tailgate party designed to interact with the football game,” Norton said.
Research shows alcohol use causes a negative impact on childhood brain development, said Gilda Ross, Glenbard District 87 student and community projects coordinator. Though alcohol would only be served to adults at the events, critics were concerned they would set a bad example for students.
“We’re very pleased that Tap House withdrew its request,” she said. “There were many voices that spoke [at the meeting] and truly at the end of the conversation it was consistent, that probably for the benefit of the community, the school was grateful that the request was withdrawn. It was amicable, not surprisingly. We are grateful for the support we received from the community.”
"It sent the wrong message"
Norton said the initial request from Sronkoski was to hold a “tailgate party” and promotional materials included the high school’s logo. He said the targets were high school football spectators. The event’s name was changed to a family cookout, but Norton said the event continued to tie alcohol to high school athletics.
“Changing the name and logo is simply window dressing; this was, and forever will be, an event that inexorably links alcohol consumption with high school sports,” Norton said.
Citing studies from Purdue University and a 2009 survey on youth high-risk behavior from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, Norton offered statistics on the use of alcohol among high school students. He also referenced a CDC finding that prevention of underage drinking is dependent upon community-based efforts, including monitoring youth activity and decreasing access to alcohol.
“I think it sent the wrong message to the community and the kids in town,” Norton said.
Glen Ellyn is reviewing its special event application form for the future, said Kristen Schrader, assistant to the village manager. The village's goal is to clarify the process moving forward for all parties involved.
Ross said District 87 is grateful the issue was resolved quickly.
“I think ultimately through the conversation, everybody felt if this was a college game, this discussion would not take place,” Ross said. “But this was a high school event.”