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updated: 8/3/2012 8:08 AM

Cantigny preparing to celebrate French Connection Day

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  • A 23-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower will help set the scene for French Connection Day next weekend at Cantigny Park.

    A 23-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower will help set the scene for French Connection Day next weekend at Cantigny Park.
    Daily Herald file photo

By Jeff Reiter
Cantigny Park

Cantigny Park will play host to its annual French Connection Day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 12, at the park, 1S151 Winfield Road, Wheaton. The free-admission festival debuted in 2008.

The French theme commemorates an important chapter in the life of Robert R. McCormick, Cantigny's benefactor. In 1918, at age 37, Col. McCormick commanded an artillery unit in the Battle of Cantigny in France as a member of the U.S. Army's First Division. It was America's first significant victory in World War I.

Upon returning to Wheaton, McCormick renamed his estate after the tiny village in France that he and his fellow soldiers had liberated from German occupation.

In his will, McCormick established Cantigny "as a public park and museum for the recreation, instruction and welfare of the people of the State of Illinois." The 500-acre estate was his gift to the community.

French Connection Day will be another opportunity for families to enjoy the extraordinary gift. Attractions and activities will include:

• French Open Air Market presented by Bensidoun;

• French music by Traveler's Dream;

• wine tasting and French food at Le Jardin restaurant;

• French yard game pétanque (courtesy of Chicago Pétanque Club);

• French street performers;

• kids' art project and story time with Madeline;

• and a 23-foot Eiffel Tower replica.

French Connection Day is a free event; parking is $5 per vehicle.

The First Division Museum and Robert R. McCormick Museum will be open on French Connection Day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to both museums is free year-round. Visitors may also wish to stroll through Cantigny's 30 acres of colorful gardens.

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