CHICAGO — Local celebrities and dignitaries said they had much for which to be thankful this year. DNAinfo Chicago asked a range of figures in the news in the past year for their thoughts on Thanksgiving, and here are their responses (in alphabetical order by last name):
Kevin Bell, Lincoln Park Zoo president/CEO: "I’m very thankful to Dr. Les Fisher, former director of Lincoln Park Zoo and local legend, who took a chance on me when I was a very young, unknown curator of birds in 1976. Not only did he trust me to lead the bird department, but he spent many years preparing me for the director’s role [even though at the time, I didn’t know it]. He gave me the opportunity to learn all parts of the zoo and its operation and was a supportive mentor who provided valuable guidance and wisdom after I took on the director’s job. He continues to be a good friend and supporter, and I’m very thankful that I can continue the great work he started here at Lincoln Park Zoo."
Doug Bruno, DePaul University women's basketball coach: "After being most thankful for my family and all members of the United States military, past, present, and future, I am thankful for DePaul University and for all that DePaul University represents: Most importantly, all my DePaul assistant coaches and all my DePaul basketball players past, present and future. I am also thankful for the 2 percent of sports media members who cover women’s sports and see female athletes as equals. Last but not least, I thank God every day to be able to live and work in … SWEET HOME CHICAGO!!!!!!!"
Jim Cornelison, Chicago Blackhawks national anthem performer: "First: My kids. Best thing ever. Second: The Hawks and the fans and the Anthem tradition. Together they have changed my life dramatically for the best. Third: It's Thanksgiving. ... I remember my country and am thankful to anyone who contributes positively to its being."
Danny Crawford, longtime NBA official, Chicago native: "My health, a great family and wonderful friends. Picking a great profession to be a part of [refereeing in the NBA] and having fun doing it. Still having the legs and stamina to chase the world's greatest athletes up and down the court."
Roy Curry, former Robeson High School football coach: "I have so much to be thankful for I don't know where to start but I'll be brief. I am of course thankful for my health, family and the granddaughter that is a blessing of laughter, love and wisdom beyond her 10 years. I thank God each day for these old repaired hips, they are once again kicking although not as high."
Michael Davies, Chicago Wolves right wing; Logan Square resident; volunteer at Lurie Children's Hospital: "These kids [at Lurie] are going through a life-threatening stage and they have the biggest smile on their faces. It’s really touching. And I’m thankful for my health, for my strong, supportive family and my girlfriend, and for having a job that I love going to every day.”
Elena Delle Donne, WNBA Rookie of the Year, Chicago Sky: "Every year on Thanksgiving, I am reminded of the many things that I have to be thankful for. I am first thankful for my family. My family has truly shaped who I am today, and I am so lucky to have such a loving and supportive family. I am also thankful for my friends. I am surrounded by a support system of friends who are always there for me. On a lighter note, I am thankful for ice baths. … While I don't always enjoy them during the process they definitely help me overcome my soreness!"
Chris Deme, who posts as Joel Quenneville's Mustache on Facebook/Twitter: "This year, I'm thankful for the fact that my birthday is on Thanksgiving so that people might be distracted and forget how old I am getting. I guess my family and friends are pretty cool, too."
Catherine De Orio, "Check, Please!" host: "It goes without saying I am thankful for my loving and supportive family, friends who make me laugh and those that continually inspire me. I'm thankful for great food and pioneering chefs who put their talent and vision into the world. And I am thankful for my dishwasher, SPANX, negronis and Templeton Rye chocolate manhattans, and that there's a holiday dedicated to guilt-free overindulgence and that I have no urge to post selfies."
Steve Edwards, Chicago Rush offensive lineman; former Chicago Bear; Mount Carmel assistant coach: "I'm thankful for all my loving family and friends. I'm thankful for my beautiful daughter. I'm thankful for [the Mount Carmel] family and another trip down to State. Also I'm thankful for my hogs on the O Line, they make coming to practice every day enjoyable."
Rahm Emanuel, Mayor: "On this Thanksgiving I am most thankful for my family, the good health of my loved ones and the opportunity to be Mayor of the best city in the world."
Darius Fleming, San Francisco 49ers linebacker, Auburn Gresham native, St. Rita High School graduate: "I'm thankful for my parents, family and friends. I'm thankful for my health and the opportunities that God has placed in front of me."
Sami Grisafe, Chicago Force quarterback, professional singer: "As I look back on this year, it has been more amazing than I could've ever dreamed. While I've had a hearty helping of amazing experiences, I am most thankful for all of the people in my life. I have the greatest family, friends, teammates, fans and community. Thank you for all of your love. Every accomplishment is a direct reflection of the love and support in my life and I am truly grateful! I am also thankful for artichokes. ... They are delicious!"
Richard W. Lariviere, Field Museum of Natural History President: "I am thankful for the adorable 6-year-old museum visitor who had just lost both front teeth, but told me this morning with conviction, "Thue is the cooletht dinothaur in the whole world. And I'm theriouth!"
Frank Lenti, Mount Carmel High School football head coach; playing in Class 7A state finals this week: "Thankful for the good health of my family and friends. Thankful for our football team to be practicing on Thanksgiving Day."
Ella Masar, Chicago Red Stars forward: "This Thanksgiving I am thankful for all my siblings tying the knot. This, of course, allows the 'field' to be more open for me, any takers?! Ha, just kidding. Having a healthy family and being able to spend the holidays with them is always a cherished time. Especially when we spend so much time on the road or overseas."
Garry McCarthy, Chicago Police Department Superintendent: "I’m thankful for the partnership between Police and residents, which is a driving force behind the fact that so far this year we’ve had significantly less crime and the fewest murders of any year since 1965. And I’m thankful that the Blackhawks are on top in the Western Conference, because I could use a distraction from my New York Giants."
Howard Moore, University of Illinois at Chicago men's basketball head coach: "There are so many aspects of my life that I am thankful for. First and foremost I am thankful for my family because without them nothing else matters. Secondly, I am thankful for my family at UIC. I go to work every day and get to teach young men how to grow and develop not only as basketball players but individuals.”
Rick Renteria, Chicago Cubs manager: "There are so many things to be thankful for this holiday season. My family, my friends and now my new Cubs family. God has blessed me with more than any man deserves.”
Chris Rolfe, Chicago Fire forward: "I'm thankful for the new friends that I've made this past year who have challenged me to be better professionally, but more importantly, personally. I'm also grateful for the courage and persistence of my farmers at Nature's Choice Farm to provide their communities with sustainable, healthy, responsibly-raised, great-tasting meat and eggs in the face of corporate bullying and a backwards food system."
Hector Santiago, Chicago White Sox pitcher: "I am thankful for my health. I am thankful for the White Sox giving me the opportunity to do what I love every day. I am thankful for my family and friends. I am thankful for being in the position I am, which allows me to give back to the community and the game."
Dan Santucci, former NFL player, St. Patrick High School and University of Notre Dame graduate: "I am thankful for my beautiful, wonderful family. … My amazing wife, Meredith, son Johnny, 5, daughter Avery, 3, and son Luke, 7 months. I pray and thank God every day for three things in life and those are: health, love and happiness. Without those three things, nothing is important! I thank God for my wonderful parents, Pat and Sue, who raised me with strong morals and values and who have shown me by example the importance of being thankful for everything we have in life. I thank God for all the wonderful opportunities he has given me in my life and for all the great friends, coaches, and mentors that I have met along the way. There is a list a mile long of different things I am thankful for and different people I can thank for having a huge impact on my life, so from the bottom of my heart, I say Thank You!"
Doug Sohn, Hot Doug's owner: "To be honest, I’m thankful for all the good that people do in the world. While there are a fair amount of negative goings on, the vast majority of people in this world are just trying to make this a better planet and for that I’m thankful. Oh, and I’m also thankful that people still like hot dogs."
Robin Ventura, Chicago White Sox manager: "Yes, I am thankful for my family and the Oklahoma State University Cowboys!!!"
Jeremiah Wright, Pastor Emeritus, Trinity UCC: "I am thankful for parents and grandparents who taught me the importance of faith and the absolute necessity for a good education. I am thankful for parents who taught me that a sense of humor helps the human soul to navigate unfriendly and treacherous situations. Most of all, I am thankful for a family who showed me how being born and raised in the segregated south, and being surrounded by racism and white supremacy did not and could not suffocate the spirit of love that God places within the human heart. Love [my family taught me] is ALWAYS stronger than hate; and for that lesson I am thankful."