Olson: Nice not to be just a face in the crowd

Published: Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013 5:30 a.m.CDT

This past weekend provided a good reminder of the good things about living in a small town.

After I finished work for the week last Friday, the family piled into the ol’ minivan and made the short drive to Huskie Stadium to watch DeKalb and Sycamore square off in the annual Week 3 grudge match.

Quick analysis interlude: There certainly appeared to be some grudges out on the field, along with a lot of scoring. Every other play in the first quarter seemed to end either with a long gain, a touchdown, or a penalty after the whistle for shenanigans that might have involved naughty words.

DeKalb looks like a better team this year, and it will probably be even tougher a few weeks from now, once players have more mastery of their new offensive scheme.

When Sycamore faces Kaneland in Week 8, it could be for the Northern Illinois Big 12 East Division title, and maybe more. There’s a lot of football to be played between now and then, but I’m pretty sure sportswriter Steve Nitz and sports editor Ross Jacobson already have Oct. 18 circled on the calendar.

Back to the narrative: There were about 8,000 people at the stadium that night, an excellent crowd for a high school game. The concourse was awash in gold glitter and bright orange T-shirts.

We came alone, but within five minutes of sitting down, we bumped into someone we knew. Rather, our children did. From there it was only a matter of time before we picked up and moved over to sit with familiar faces from our street, where the children could sit with their friends and the adults could exchange observations about the realities of parenthood and who used to have a mullet in the 1980s. (I played hockey, and you weren’t cool unless you had “hockey hair.” Never again.)

We stayed through the end of the third quarter –by then my youngest was asleep on my wife’s lap and they’d already fired the cannon so often we thought they might run out of charges.

The next evening, the Sycamore Park District was planning a big fireworks display as part of their series of events to commemorate their 90th anniversary. We appreciated that the show would start earlier than it ordinarily would with summer at its height.

This time, as soon as we stepped foot out of the minivan, the children had located some other friends, and the decision on where to sit was made easy.

The event drew about 2,500 people, the show was well done, and getting out of the Sycamore Park District Sports Complex took little time thanks to the police and park district employees on hand to direct the traffic. Pretty sure I saw Sycamore Park District Superintendent of Recreation Bart Desch out directing traffic himself, wearing shorts on a chilly night, no less.

What’s so unique about this? In most of the other places I’ve lived, unless we’d arranged in advance to meet people or gone there with them,we probably would have been on our own among strangers, who might have lived in the same town but who we didn’t know.

That would have been fine, too –we didn’t set out to meet people we knew at either event. But having familiar company made both events more interesting.

Most people don’t want to be known by everybody. But it’s always nice to be recognized by somebody once in a while, especially in a crowd.

Get a flu shot: Jeez, we have one day where the temperature drops below 50 degrees and suddenly it seems people everywhere are catching colds.

Not sure where I picked up a bug, but this week has been a blur of Cold-Eeze, vitamin C powder, cold and flu tablets and early bedtimes.

If this is any indication of what the cold and flu season to come will be like, just remember to wash your hands and buy a new bottle of antibacterial lotion.

The first flu-shot clinics of the season are underway. At the DeKalb County Health Department, shots are available for $38 each Thursday from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. at the department’s offices at 2550 N. Annie Glidden Road in DeKalb.

You also can get the flu shot from your doctor, or most local pharmacies. It’s so much less painful than fighting the flu.

HuskieWire on gameday: Northern Illinois will be facing Eastern Illinois in the Huskies' home opener at 6 p.m. Saturday, trying to extend their unbeaten streak at Huskie Stadium to 22.

If you can’t make it out to the game but want a new way to follow the action, check out HuskieWire.com starting about two hours before kickoff.

This season we’ve launched a new gameday site format that allows you to follow along with what other fans are saying on Twitter, see Instagram photos from around the Mid-American Conference and follow Nitz’s live blog from the game.

Soon, we expect to launch a new mobile app for iPhone and Android that will make it even easier to plug in. Check out the site and let us know what you think.

• Eric Olson is the editor of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841 ext. 2257, email eolson@shawmedia.com, or follow him on Twitter @DC_Editor.

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