South Suburban Diversity Dinners and The Drama Group’s Ragtime Partner to Celebrate the Cultural Richness of the Region

Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)—April 7, 2014. When sisters Betsy Williams of Park Forest and Mary Lee Hoganson of Homewood talked over a restaurant lunch a few months ago, it occurred to them that they were each involved in a community event dedicated to celebrating the unique diversity of the south suburbs. Betsy serves on the planning committee for the South Suburban Diversity Dinners and Mary Lee is directing Ragtime, The Musical for The Drama Group in Chicago Heights. The logical outcome of that lunch was a partnering to mutually promote these events within the community and beyond, as a celebration of the positive aspects of diversity in this region.

The Diversity Dinners were first held in the late 1990’s in response to a television documentary that presented integration of the south suburbs in a negative light. Since their inception, the dinners have gathered area residents in homes throughout the region to recognize the positive aspects and richness of culture that a diverse community creates. The dinners bring people of diverse races, ethnicities, religions, lifestyles and age together to share a meal and grow in mutual understanding. This year’s, the 17th annual, dinners will be held on Thursday April 24 at 7:00 p.m., in homes throughout the south suburbs. There is no charge to attend.

The Drama Group’s the presentation of Ragtime brings together a truly diverse cast of nearly 50, to mount this Tony-Award winning musical. Based on the 1975 novel by E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime intertwines the stories of African-Americans, Eastern European immigrants and the white majority in the United States in the early 20th century. It has much to say about the virtues and pathos of the melting-pot that is our nation. The story is particularly reflective of the backgrounds of the residents of the south suburbs. Ragtime will be performed on May 2 and 3 (7:30 p.m.) and May 4 (2:00 p.m.) at Bloom auditorium in Chicago Heights.

There is still time to register to attend one of the Diversity Dinners, though space is limited. Registration can be completed online at: There is no charge to attend. Tickets to Ragtime may be purchased by phoning the Drama Group box office at 708-755-3444 or online at: More information about each of these events is available at the respective websites.



Summer and Fall at Prairie State College