By: Mike Swanson
St. Rita’s Winterfest, the annual, all-parent-run "friendraiser" has become a legendary event that encourages the entire St. Rita family to come together. Over the past 15 years, Winterfest earned it’s unofficial tag line of the “Best party on the southside". It’s all thanks to the hard work and dedication of St. Rita High School parents. This year, Winterfest veterans Kim and Mike Patton took the reigns of chair couple from Todd ’89 and Kim Lefebvre (parents of Ryan ‘17 and Shawn ‘21). Kim and Mike are parents of Jack ’08 and Brendan ‘19, and their daughter Cassidy is married to Bill Newman ‘05. The Pattons were also very involved in the inaugural Winterfest. Mike and Kim are examples of parents who have stayed involved for more than a decade. Not only do parents stay involved, but each year new parents join in the fun. This year saw a large, strong group of freshmen parents take leadership roles on the committee, including Hannah Dillon, Eileen and Kevin Durkin, Maura and Brian Quigley, Blanca Leonas, Greg ‘91 and Sandy Maza, and Mike Flannery.
The Winterfest XV effort started almost a year ago. The Winterfest committee quickly decided on the French theme of "Vive La Rita!" Countless hours of behind-the-scenes work went into making Winterfest 2019 a great success, including reorganizing four rooms according to class year to make sure that everyone felt they could take part. Freshmen parents were responsible for the McCarthy Center, The Dining Hall was run by the sophomore parents, the Western Avenue entrance was run by the junior parents and finally the senior parents were in charge of the gym, including the construction of St. Rita’s very own version of the Eiffel Tower thanks to Mark Benson. All the hard work of parent volunteers culminated on Saturday, January 26, 2019, as more than 750 St. Rita parents, alumni, faculty, staff and friends braved travel in the middle of a snow storm to enjoy a fun-filled evening, many food carts from local vendors, open bar, live entertainment, and often-imitated—but never-duplicated St. Rita hospitality. The decorations transformed the St. Rita campus so much that many Winterfest goers commented they almost forgot that they were in a high school in Chicago and not on the streets of Paris!
This year, the new Mustang Raffle drawing also coincided with Winterfest. Near the end of the night St Rita’s head of school and CEO, Fr. Paul Galetto, O.S.A, Ph.D. and the Pattons gathered on stage to draw the Mustang Raffle winner. This year’s winner was Celia and Maureen Coyle. They will have their choice of a brand new Ford Mustang or a large cash prize. It seems the Mustang Raffle was the single most successful raffle in St. Rita’s venerable history, generating over $140,000 in revenue to help offset athletic expenses and keep tuition as affordable as possible for working families.
While Winerfest is technically a fundraiser; St. Rita strives to make sure the "Friendraiser" tradition and heritage of the event keeps the St. Rita Family growing year after year, because the St. Rita community truly is a family. Family - that’s important at St. Rita. Around Winterfest time many of us are reminded that “Blood makes you related, loyalty makes you family.” The concepts of loyalty, commitment and family are the main ingredients to Winterfest’s success. Thanks to all of Winterfest’s volunteers, donors, attendees and sponsors.
A special thanks to Kim and Mike Patton, Kim LeFebvre, Karen Manning, Laura Nolan, Hannah Dillon, Eileen and Kevin Durkin, Maura and Brian Quigley, Blanca Leonas, Brigid and Terry Hixon, Christine and John Tolley, Kerrie and Mike Cleve, Cathy and Dan Larkin ‘82, Laura and Mark Benson, Kathleen and John Daly, Ruth Cotugno, Margaret Regan, Greg ‘91 and Sandy Maza, Mike Flannery, Gerry McKillop, Patti Chiappetta, Larry and Keli Serven, Maria and Bob Flores, Kevin Gibson ‘76, Margie Hopkins, Maureen Revers, Gary DeCesare, Brendan Garrett, Sue Connolly, Josh Blaszak, Laura Fleck, Laura Kennedy, Eileen Spulak, Jay Standring, Mike Zunica, Fr. Paul Galetto, O.S.A., the St. Rita Fathers’ Club and many, many more! Without the work and leadership of all of these people, Winterfest could not occur.
Please patronize our generous Winterfest sponsors:
Kevin Gibson ‘76
Larry and Keli Serven
Schools Are Us
Jr’s Hot Dogs
Midwest Sports Lab
Maria & Bob Flores
Big N Little Shoes
KD & Sons HVAC Services