Good News Sunday: South Elgin Police, Village Squire serve up free Thanksgiving meals

This is Good News Sunday, a compilation of some of the more upbeat and inspiring stories published recently by the Daily Herald:

As a young adult, Bob Karas often spent Thanksgiving at the family restaurant, The Village Squire in West Dundee, with his parents and siblings serving up meals to those in need.

"I was involved a little bit, but I was younger," said Karas, whose father, Paul Karas, would open his restaurant to serve those in need. "I always, at that time, selfishly thought we should be with our family at home."

On Thanksgiving Day, though, Karas was in no hurry as he and his sister, Despina Karas, and the South Elgin Police Department welcomed more than 100 people into The Village Squire in South Elgin for a community feast.

"We're excited to do this," he said. "I think it could become an annual thing."

The holiday feast was organized by the South Elgin Police Department, which worked with local schools and social service agencies to invite residents in need. The South Elgin Jewel provided cooked turkey and fixings, Sam's Club in Elgin donated pies, and the Bear Family McDonald restaurants in South Elgin provided cookies.

Karas, who last year worked with police to deliver Thanksgiving meals to families, opened his restaurant this year to offer a bit of ambience for families as they enjoyed the meal.

"I think it's great," said Jose "Benny" Rocha, who was joined by his wife, Tracy, and their children. "We've been struggling ... for this to happen is like a blessing."

For the full story, click here.

Prospect Marching Knights completes championship season

The Prospect Marching Knights, Prospect High School's marching band, has established a tradition of excellence.

But this fall season was particularly satisfying for the squad, as it captured the title in the Class 5A category and placed second overall at the Illinois State Marching Band Championships in Normal.

"We were able to do a few things this fall that hadn't been done in quite some time," said the band's director, Chris Barnum.

The Mount Prospect school's band, among 42 that took part in the competition, also earned Outstanding Achievement in Music and General Effect honors.

It capped a season highlighted by a first-place finish in the Class 5A category at the Illinois Marching Band Championships at the University of Illinois. The band earned Best Music and Best Visual honors at that October competition.

And in September, Bands of America named the Marching Knights the Whitewater Regional Champions. It was the second regional title at Bands of America in Prospect's history and the first since 2001.

For the full story, click here.

Woodland social studies teacher holds Guinness World Record

Every day he arrives at Woodland Middle School in Gurnee, social studies teacher Paul Durietz makes history. That's because each day he adds on to his official Guinness World Record for longest career teaching social studies, which now stands at more than 53 years.

Durietz, 72, doesn't plan to make it easier for someone else to break his record by retiring.

"The only way I would retire would be if I physically cannot teach," Durietz said.

For years, he said, friends and family would marvel at his career longevity and wonder aloud if his tenure was some kind of record. So he reached out to the organization and, in 2021, Guinness World Record judges first declared that indeed it was.

Guinness World Record books have been the definitive source on world records of all kinds since 1955. Many suburbanites have earned their place either in a published annual volume or on the official world record website through feats of strength or displays of skill.

For the full story, including more record holders, click here.

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The Prospect Marching Knights is one of the state's premier high school marching bands, as this array of trophies attests. Courtesy of the Prospect Marching Knights
Paul Durietz poses in his Woodland Middle School classroom with the certificate he received from Guinness World Records for teaching social studies for the longest. Courtesy of Brooke Hagstrom, Woodland School District 50
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