Vernon Hills preparing for Vice President Joe Biden's visit Wednesday
The giggling toddlers and energetic dancers who normally would occupy Vernon Hills' Sullivan Community Center on Wednesday will make way for a political rally featuring Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden is coming to the center on Aspen Drive in the afternoon to stump for some fellow Democrats on the Nov. 4 ballot.
The Vernon Hills Park District facility will be closed for the day and scheduled programs have been canceled. Additionally, motorists should expect corresponding delays and detours in the area.
As campaign workers, district staffers and others prepare for the event, the Sullivan Center has been a flurry of activity. U.S. flags and other decorations are being added to the decor, a stage was being built and barricades were being erected.
Park district Executive Director Jeff Fougerousse sounded excited about Biden's visit.
"When you can bring the vice president of the United States into our park district facility, that's a special moment for us," he said.
Doors will open to the public at 1 p.m., and things are expected to get underway about 1:30 p.m.
The Sullivan Center was chosen for Biden's visit because it's in the 10th Congressional District, where Democratic incumbent Brad Schneider is running a close race with Republican rival Robert Dold.
Schneider's campaign committee is covering the $500 rental cost, said Jay Bullman, the center's facility supervisor. The contract was signed Oct. 14, Fougerousse said, and planning began in earnest a few days later.
Biden and Schneider will be joined by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, who's also seeking re-election, and by Paul Vallas, who's running for lieutenant governor with Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn as his running mate.
Durbin's challenger is Republican Jim Oberweis. Quinn is running against the GOP's Bruce Rauner.
At the Sullivan Center, a preschool program, some dance classes and a rhythmic gymnastics class previously set for Wednesday have been canceled. An after-school program will be relocated, too.
The dozen or so full-time employees who otherwise would be scheduled to work at the center won't have vacation days, Fougerousse said.
"They're still going to work, just at different locations," he said. "It's not a paid holiday for staff."
Biden's visit isn't causing any other significant disruptions in town, officials said.
Vernon Hills police are involved with traffic control coordination. The Secret Service will handle Biden's transportation, officials said.
Motorists should expect delays or detours in the area, police said.
Village employees aren't involved in any other aspects of the rally.
"It's a private event," Village Manager John Kalmar said.
When President Obama made a speech at Evanston's Northwestern University this month, university and city officials had much more to do.
"It's a much more overwhelming event when the sitting president comes to your campus," Northwestern spokesman Al Cubbage said.
University leaders had about 10 days to prepare. Cabbage and key staffers met daily to discuss security, facilities issues and other matters.
For example, three rows of seats in the rear of the Cahn Auditorium needed to be removed so risers could be installed for media crews. A temporary floor was built over the theater's orchestra pit, too.
"It was a lot of work," Cubbage said.
The Sullivan center has hosted political bigwigs before. In March 2012, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had a rally there.