A Well-Earned "Merci Beaucoup" to St. Rita's Winterfest Committee

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!

St. Rita Winterfest started as a “Friendraiser” and it continues each year...friends, family and memories from the best party on the southside!
— Kim Patton - St. Rita Winterfest Chair

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:

Americano’s (A.J. Castillo ‘08)

The Bev Girls

Calabria Imports

Swanson’s Deli

Horse Thief Hollow

Barraco’s Pizza

Open Outcry Brewing Co.

Bob Wirtz ’86 – Wirtz Rentals

115 Bourbon Street

Lakeshore Beverage - Mike Cummings '04

AthleteX - Thomas Mulvey


The Wine Steward

Portraits Plus (Mike & Kim Patton)

Pollyanna Brewing Company

Jack Gibbon’s Gardens

Entertainment Cruises

Ravisloe Country Club

Michael V. LoCicero, Esq.

Professional Holiday Lighting

Key Carpet, John McGowan ‘76

Kevin Gibson ‘76

Samuel Hubbard Shoes

Clancy’s Pizza

Core Fitness Physical Therapy

Fox’s Restaurant & Pub


Huck Finn’s Restaurant

Golden Griddle

Running Excels

Steuber Florist

S & T Provisions

Nino’s Pizza

Herff Jones


Jewel Food

Little Company of Mary Hospital

Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School

Hillside-Chatham Florist

Larry and Keli Serven

County Fair Foods

Schools Are Us

Arena Lanes Bowling Center

Jr’s Hot Dogs

Midwest Sports Lab

Maria & Bob Flores

Big N Little Shoes

Papa Joe’s

Park Schwinn Cyclery

Jenny’s Steakhouse & Pub

Jack & Pat’s Old Fashioned Butcher Shop

Running for Kicks

Heine’s McCarthy’s Chicken

Palermo’s Pizza

Tuzik’s Bakery

Kenwood Liquors

The Larkin and Moran Brothers

Tim Larkin ‘81, Dan Larkin ‘82, Mike Larkin ‘89, Joe Larkin ‘92, & Dan Larkin, Jr. ‘04

The Dancing Noodles (Ed Kammerer ‘72, Glenn Oskvarek ‘82, Brian Sarna ‘73)

SunFallen (Jay O’Malley ‘01)

Krapil’s Steakhouse

Lush Salon & Color Bar

Rhinestone Glitzwear

Lagunitas Brewing Company

Chicago Bears Football

Chicago White Sox

Lou Malnati’s Pizza

Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants

KD & Sons HVAC Services

Brookfield Zoo

Lang Ice