In Cicero, tax dollars are being spent on rubber chickens.
Those rubber chickens were flying through the air at Sunday's annual Houby Fest parade in Cicero and Berwyn. Cicero spent about $1,000 buying 250 rubber chickens to be tossed into the crowd by the parade's grand marshal, legendary Chicago TV horror host Svengoolie (also known as Rich Koz) who on his show is usually the target of the rubber chickens.
"Well in reality, it is taxpayer dollars, but it's not," said Cicero Spokesman Ray Hanania.
Hanania said the town hopes to recoup its investment in the chickens and Svengoolie's $2,000 appearance fee with proceeds from the Houby Festival, which he says was well attended because of its chicken-chucking star.
"I just couldn't imagine Svengoolie, Rich Koz, without a rubber chicken being thrown at him. I thought it would be cute with him tossing them out to the audience," Hanania said.
But not everyone's amused. Cicero activist David Jenkins says that tax money could have been put to better use educating children or filling some of the town's many potholes.
"Cicero needs to improve. The quality of life, property values, education," Jenkins said. "There's better ways of spending that money."
So where do you get 250 rubber chickens at a good price? Luckily, Rosemary Konz owns a novelties business called "You and Me" in nearby Woodridge, and it just so happens Konz is a paid appointee sitting on a Cicero town board and her mother is a Cicero trustee. "You and Me" gets hundreds of thousands of dollars in Cicero business.
"They're reliable and they're cheap," Hanania said. "It's all aboveboard. It's not like it's a secret."