Peace pole in 60 languages to be dedicated Thursday in Lake Zurich

The Ela Peace Pole, described as a sign of diversity and acceptance, is being dedicated Thursday to mark the International Day of Peace.

The event at 95 E. Main St., next to the Ela Historical Society in Lake Zurich, will begin with music at 6:30 p.m. The dedication, which will include peace flag giveaways, dancing, pickles on a stick and more, will start at 7 p.m.

Friends of Ela Peace Project began fundraising more than two years ago. Changes include shortening the structure from 20 to 15 feet so the words for peace can be more easily read, though supporters say it still is thought to be the tallest peace pole in Illinois.

The pole itself was installed May 11, and a surrounding concrete patio was finished June 6. Benches are planned in the next phase.

The word "Peace" is laser-cut in the 60 languages spoken by Ela Township residents. The language represented is etched below each and also identified in Braille.

"The Ela Peace Pole shows that we don't just tolerate diversity here, we celebrate it," said Shari Gullo, co-founder of the Ela Peace Project. The pole also shows all community members are embraced, she added.

Gullo originated the idea and co-founded the project with Pamela Self, a landscape architect who lived in Hawthorn Woods for 23 years before recently moving.

She donated her time to design the eight-sided stainless steel pole, and her fabricator assembled it. Ela Township donated the forms and concrete.

"I've never seen one like this," she said. "Many times they're a four-sided wood post."

It was designed to be lighted from within and illuminated at night.

"We like the thought of the hope for peace," she said. "It's a beacon of hope, I guess you could say, to strive for."

As fundraising began, Gullo said the project was meant to be special and beautify the area. "This is not just a pole," she added.

However, associated features such as a circular seating area were put on hold as fundraising fell short.

According to the organization, the first peace pole was created in Japan in 1955 in response to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. They now can be found around the world at various locations as a symbol of goodness.

A 15-foot, stainless steel peace pole will be dedicated Thursday in Lake Zurich on International Day of Peace. Courtesy of Ela Peace Project
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