In a not-so-distant land called Schaumburg, nestled just minutes west of Chicago proper, there lies a grand castle - an 11th century relic that actually first appeared one foggy night in 1991. For nearly a quarter-century, visitors to this legendary kingdom have taken delight in a spectacle of sportsmanship that until this month, our family had not yet experienced - despite passing beneath the shadow of the castle tower on more than a few occasions. Last week, we answered the invitation of the King himself (or marketers working on his behalf) to attend Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament to witness the action first-hand, and for I to bring forth a tale of our family's experience in the realm of "steel and steed."
Ed. Note: As the famed Balmoral Park in Crete, Illinois prepares to host its final scheduled harness races tonight, I'm turning things over to the person who introduced me to "the track" - my Dad... just as his Father did before him. -- JZ
As a baby boomer in the 50’s dear old dad would wake me up in the wee hours of the morning to go fishing on the Kankakee River and we’d travel Dixie Highway, Route 1 in Crete, Illinois in route to our favorite spots….I always was intrigued by a big brick building we’d pass surrounded by overgrown weeds, and a look of neglect. I was told it was a racetrack once, known as Lincoln Fields and that famous horses raced there. Years later, in the late 1960’s, the place would be reborn under the ownership of William S. Miller, a millionaire breeder and former chairman of the Illinois Racing Board. The lights went on at the new Balmoral in the late 60’s and my father, Harold, and I were there to welcome it back to life! The scene was repeated countless times in the years to follow….we’d feel the excitement build as we could see the lights from quite a distance illuminating the nighttime sky from its rural Crete location. As a broadcaster in the 70’s, Balmoral was a sponsor of one of harness racing’s first regularly scheduled radio programs, Harness Happenings, that I hosted. During that time I met and interviewed many people in the industry, from horsemen to the driver of the starting gate to the manager of the finance department! Also had the privilege of knowing one of racing’s greatest race announcers, the legendary Phil Georgeff who would on occasion permit me to announce some races ‘live’ at the track. Little did I know or even ponder the thought that 30 years later I’d be a late bloomer in the colorful sport of harness racing and actually own and drive in races on a limited basis and yes, suiting up at Balmoral was part of the package and racing there was indeed a thrill that few will ever understand let alone experience firsthand.
Two years ago, when my family and I made our annual visit to The Chicago Toy and Game Fair at Navy Pier, one of the companies that I pointed out as a highlight was Noochie Golf. The creation of two young brothers - Tre and Dominic LoBracco - Noochie Golf was at the time a concept that was on-display, but not yet for sale. A set of interchangeable pieces that would allow kids to build their own miniature golf courses at home, Noochie Golf immediately captured the interest of The Rock Daughters... and yours truly, a former High School Golfer. Now, after a successful crowdfunding effort and some bumps along the way, Noochie Golf has made it into production and is now available for-sale through the official site, and at select boutique toy stores. It's also a featured item in my 2015 Holiday Wish Guide here at THE ROCK FATHER Magazine.
DoSomething.org, one of the largest global organizations for young people and social change, and global entertainment company WWE and its Be a STAR anti-bullying initiative, are teaming up for The Bully Text: Superstar Edition. The campaign, now in its second year, gets young people to take action around bullying by playing an SMS text message game.
On October 27, 2K Games will unleash WWE 2K16 - the latest in their popular multi-platform franchise. This time around, things are getting interesting, as the latest live-action trailer features Arnold Schwarzenegger as THE TERMINATOR - re-enacting his hillbilly bar arrival, which finds him going face-to-face with a variety of WWE Superstars and Divas.
Dean Ambrose should really know better... when someone asks for "your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle," you say YES.