Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Naperville's #1 Cheerleader: Mayor Pradel

 A. George Pradel has been Naperville’s Mayor for twenty years and the city’s biggest cheerleader for even longer.
Most Chamber of Commerce members know that, before becoming Mayor, he served on our police force. There’s even a statue of him as “Officer Friendly” on the grounds of Washington Junior High. But did you know that once upon a time he also was a business owner himself ?

In the 1960’s, a young couple named George and Pat ran a little hot dog stand on Main Street in the space currently occupied by Lil’ J’s Bohemia. The Pow Wow had two small booths and a stand-up counter, providing hungry patrons with steamed hot dogs, chili dogs and fries.

In addition to running the Pow Wow, they were raising three young children and George was attending the College of DuPage to further his police career. After a few years, Pat and George decided that being in the restaurant business was not their passion and they sold it to one of their employees. Pat went on to an office career that included a stint with Service Master and George continued with the police department.
Through the years that  Mayor Pradel has presided over ribbon cuttings, he has sported a variety of fashions including:  a Marine Corp sweatshirt, a fresh St. Baldrick’s shave, a crazy tie from his extensive collection and, of course, his Chamber Ambassador jackets. (He’s been through a few logo changes!)
Mayor Pradel always loves to include any available children in a ribbon cutting and he makes everyone giggle when he boasts that, while Chicago is also a Five Star Chamber, “we were here first!”

For years, the Mayor “cut” ribbons with a giant pair of purely ornamental wooden scissors which were kept painted and repaired by our Ambassador Emeritus Dale Yamauchi, but in recent years, he’s used a metal pair that actually does cut.  He’s also cut other things in lieu of a ribbon including a two by four and a loaf of bread!

Opening a new business will always be exciting and Ambassdors look forward to learning the new routine. But you have to admit, we’re going to miss hearing that familiar voice gleefully booming:

“WEL-come to NA-perville!”