The word ‘centennial’ can be used in relation to a 100-year anniversary, or signal the end of a 100-year period. For the St. Charles Parks and Recreation Department, both of these definitions apply; however, the first century is just the beginning.
To celebrate the department’s 100-year birthday, the city is hosting Illumination, a three day festival (Sept. 12-14) in Frontier Park with concerts, carnival rides, 100-second games, a Model T car show and more; plus bonus concerts, food trucks and fireworks on Monday, Sept. 15.
The theme of illumination will be pervasive throughout the event, both literally lighting up the park with lights and ‘glow’ apparel, and by illuminating residents on the extensive history of the parks department.
“We decided we were most certainly celebrating our past and soaring into the future,” said Maralee M. Britton, parks department director. “And what better way to do that than enlightening everyone and educating them?”
The festivities start on Friday, Sept. 12 with the 5k Illumirun, which will take participants along an illuminated Katy Trail and through the Eco Park section of DuSable Park. The opening ceremony for Illumination is at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13 and is followed by a children’s bike parade. The entire weekend will feature live music from local bands, including Irie Sun, The Well Hungarians and Groovethang.
Radio Disney will provide music, games and prizes from noon-2 p.m. on Sept. 13, and food trucks will be on hand on Friday, Sunday and Monday. Illumination will conclude with a fireworks display at 9 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 15.
Britton said that many of the daily events will be free of charge for residents, although attendees should bring money for the amusement rides.
“This is our thank-you to the community,” Britton said.
For the full Illumination schedule, visit www.stcharlesparks.com.
Did you know?
• The St. Charles Parks and Recreation department got its start on Sept. 26, 1914, with the passage of a $90,000 bond issue to acquire a public park. On Dec. 7, 1914, Blanchette Park was officially named.
• On July 3, 1937, the city’s first public pool opened in Blanchette Park.
• The St. Charles Parks System began to rapidly expand in 1949 with the acquisition of land that would become Boone’s Lick Park. Further expansion included the creation of McNair Park in 1963, Frontier Park in 1968, the first portion of DuSable Park in 1977 and Wapelhorst Park 1977.
• By 1979, the parks system was comprised of 13 parks, which spanned approximately 359 acres.
• In 1984, the Kiwanis Club developed a six-acre park, which was named in their honor.
• The “Braille Trail,” funded by the St. Charles Lions Club, opened June 13, 1992, in McNair Park.
• In 2009, Vogt Brothers Park and the Eco Park Trailhead of Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Park opened.
• In 2013, Webster Park was officially opened. Additional features planned for the park include a walking link to Heatherbrook Park.