The Friends of the Fourth t-shirt nods to the Ukrainian resistance

When the Riverside Friends of the Fourth started the organization to raise money to support the village’s Independence Day activities and entertainment, they experimented with different fundraising methods – direct requests through their website to GoFundMe campaigns.

T-shirt sales were also part of the mix, but it wasn’t until last year that they found the secret to success. Calling on the talents of local tattoo artist Patrick Cornolo, Les Amis du Quatrième came up with a colorful and psychedelic design featuring a dragonfly. The shirts flew off the shelves, fetching around $6,000.

“In the past, on The Fourth, we still had most of the shirts,” said Joseph Ballerine, one of the founders of Friends of the Fourth and now village president. “Last year, I only had about 50 left.”

Looks like this year there is going to be another round of sales.

Les Amis du Quatrième put this year’s t-shirt up for sale via their Facebook page on June 1. Sales hit $1,050 in 24 hours.

The design and its message apparently have a lot to do with it. The light blue shirt design features the Riverside water tower rising in the center of a sunflower, with colors reminiscent of the flag of Ukraine.

“This year, while driving in Riverside, I noticed a lot of sunflowers on the doors and the Ukrainian flags,” Ballerina said of the support here for the Ukrainian resistance to the invasion Russia launched in February. “I came to the idea that maybe this is something that people are really passionate about.”

According to Ballerina, 10% of all profits from t-shirt sales will go to the Ukrainian Red Cross.

Ballerina reached out to Cornolo again, with a fairly general request.

“I think my exact words were, ‘Can you do something like, ‘We’re on Ukraine’s side?'” Ballerine said.

Cornolo, who along with his wife, Kelley, operates Speakeasy Custom Tattoo in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, accepted the challenge.

“At first I had the idea of ​​incorporating the swing bridge or the water tower and nature,” said Cornolo, a resident of Riverside since 2015. “Once Joe mentioned Ukraine – the sunflower is their symbol – it pointed me in that direction.”

Cornolo said he designed the image on his iPad for about 10 hours.

“I like living here; it’s such a cool little town with so much to offer,” Cornolo said. “I got so many compliments last year [on the dragonfly design]that I was very happy to make another one.

Similar to last year, Cornolo said, local craft brewery BuckleDown Brewing plans to use the design to create a label for a specialty beer to be sold at Riverside Foods during the village’s Fourth of July celebration.

The shirts, available in child and adult sizes in Ukrainian blue or black and white, are $25 each. You can order a t-shirt by visiting

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