Evanston families honor fathers and fatherhood on Father’s Day


Photo courtesy of Jesse Ortega

Jesse Ortega with his wife and children.

Megija Medne, Reporter

Evanston streets, parks and the Lakefill were more lively than usual on Sunday as families took walks, rode bikes, organized barbecues and played games in celebration of Father’s Day.

“Today, we chose to come to the lake, enjoy the water and beach, spend some time together and then probably have dinner as well,” said Jesse Ortega, a father of three children ages 17, 14 and 6. 

Celebrating the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day is a relatively modern tradition in the United States. The origin of this holiday is usually associated with Sonora Smart Dodd, whose appeal for a day celebrating fathers and father figures led to the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day in 1910.

More than 60 years later, President Richard Nixon recognized the day as a national holiday in 1972. For many families in Evanston, Father’s Day has already become a special family tradition. 

Alex Berman, who celebrated with his father by getting breakfast together, said the holiday is about acknowledging everything fathers or father figures do. 

“I suppose if someone had a more complicated relationship with their father, it might mean something else, but not for me,” Berman said. “For me, it’s giving them a day to show appreciation.”

Many fathers see their role as a way to empower their children.

Eric Pryzby, a father to two children ages 21 and 18, said he wants to see his children thrive. 

Fatherhood means being as supportive and nurturing as possible to help your kids become independent — the best versions of who they can be,” Pryzby said.

Steve Moscoso said becoming a father brought huge changes in his life that he never imagined would happen.  

He met his wife 15 years ago, when neither of them were looking for a relationship. Moscoso said he didn’t think he would get married. 

It’s just all changed quickly. Now, I can’t imagine my life without (my family),” Moscoso said. 

While there are no instructions for how to be a perfect father, Moscoso said the good ones strive to be the best for their kids. 

Pryzby has a similar opinion, saying fatherhood is not about perfection but instead effort. 

“It’s a definition that has to be discovered and understood on an individual level,” Pryzby said. “I think it’s just showing up and helping to grow and mature and support your children as best as you can and as best as you know how to do.” 

While Evanston stores offered gift cards with “Happy Dad’s Day” messages, for many fathers, the best present is something else. 

“The best gift for fathers is being together with your kids, spending time together, paying attention to each other and not your phone,” Pryzby said. 

To Ortega, Father’s Day is also about second chances for fathers and children who may not have a connection. 

“There are a lot of fathers that for whatever reason are just not with their kids or not in touch with their kids. And for this Father’s Day, I would love for them to make that attempt,” Ortega said. “It’s never too late to start a relationship or repair a relationship.”

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Twitter: @_megija

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