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Paying tribute to one of Pig in Park founders



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Green (click for larger version)

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Dan and Mary Green (click for larger version)

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July 10, 2012 | 03:30 PM
FONTANA — As one of the founding fathers of the popular Pig in the Park event, Dan Green, made serving pulled-pork sandwiches on the lakefront a September tradition in Fontana.

However, the Pig in the Park event wasn't the only the place Green volunteered.

If he drove through a town that was devastated by a tornado he would get out of his car and try to help everyone who was affected, his wife, Mary, said. If someone needed help, Dan would drop whatever he was doing to lend a hand.

Mary said she can "talk forever" about Dan's benevolence. He was always putting other people ahead of himself, she said.

When Dan died in September, he left behind a legacy. He was killed while working construction in Elmhurst, Ill.

"There are so many wonderful things to say about him and his life," Mary said.

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Now Mary wants to carry on Dan's legacy. Mary and a large circle of friends are creating a nonprofit organization, the Dan Green Foundation, which will benefit people who are suffering — monetarily, physically and emotionally. The organization's plans aren't definitive, but Mary said she wants to focus its efforts in Walworth County.

Mary also has taken over planning the Pig in the Park event. She always volunteered, serving baked beans or sandwiches, but now she is leading the organizational effort.

There are also plans to rename the event, "Dan Green's Pig in the Park." Dan was also a park commissioner. When he died a vacancy was created on the board, which Mary fills.

Maybe the way to understand Dan is by listening to stories of the "small things." The acts of kindness that he bestowed on his wife, friends and even strangers.

In the winter, Dan plowed driveways for extra money. However, Mary said he didn't always accept cash. While plowing, if Dan saw an elderly person shoveling he would plow for them for free, refusing the money offered to him.

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"He would always help," Mary said. "He could never say no to anyone ever."

If a friend needed help, Mary said their plans for the evening would wait. That was because Dan's friendships were important to him, Mary said.

Those people now want to pay back Dan. Mary said more than 20 people have agreed to work on the nonprofit organization named in his honor.

"Now all these people want to give back," Green said. "It is a wonderful gift."

Some of the key members of this group are Klaus and Kelly Nitch, Kelly Hayden, Bridget VonHout-Beth and JB Feeny.

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"There are many people in need ranging from food, shelter, financial, educational, physical and emotional," Mary said. "Our organization will always be looking for ways to help lessen some of these burdens."

Pig in the Park

One of the things Dan loved to do was entertain, which is part of the reason he was at home during the Pig in the Park event. This year's Pig in the Park will be Saturday, Sept. 1.

"He was always so excited about it," Mary said. "He liked to help the community and be part of it. He loved to cook and barbecue. All meat had to be cooked on the grill, even in winter. He just like to barbecue and have people around."

Since Pig in the Park began, it has been slowly paying off the pirate ship that is in the Little Foot Playground. Mary hopes this is the year the debt is closed.

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"It would be a nice honor to Dan to have it paid off," Mary said.

When Pig in the Park first started five years ago, Dan told the Regional News he was planning for 300 people. This year the group is planning for between 900 and 1,000 people.

When talking to others about the Pig in the Park, Dan often credited others. However, before Dan died, Hayden described him as the "silent hero" of the event.

As it has in the past, the $10 meal includes a pulled-pork sandwich, baked beans, corn, chips, a cookie and a drink. Hot dogs, cookies and juice will be available for kids.

Customers also have the option to order their meal a la carte. This year the group also will sell preordered rib dinners for $20. That meal includes the same sides.

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