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Local News

Great Joliet Prison Break-In nets $137,000

Next event: disc golf in October

Margie and Alex Rodriguez pose for a photo in front of the Bluesmobile on Aug. 25 during the Great Prison Break-In at The Old Joliet Prison in Joliet. The Great Prison Break-In fundraiser made nearly $137,000, and prison tours have generated $5,500 so far.
Margie and Alex Rodriguez pose for a photo in front of the Bluesmobile on Aug. 25 during the Great Prison Break-In at The Old Joliet Prison in Joliet. The Great Prison Break-In fundraiser made nearly $137,000, and prison tours have generated $5,500 so far.

The Great Joliet Prison Break-In fundraiser netted nearly $137,000, and prison tours have generated $5,500 so far.

The numbers were presented to the Joliet City Council Prison Committee this week along with a report on upcoming events.

Next up is a disc golf tournament on Oct. 13 that is expected to generate an additional $5,000 for prison restoration.

The more than 3,000 people who came to the Great Joliet Prison Break-In grand opening event for the prison on Aug. 25 confirmed public interest in the site, Joliet Economic Development Director Steve Jones told the committee Monday.

“Our whole suspicion that people really would want to see the place – it’s there,” Jones said.

Gross revenue from the event was nearly $203,000 while net revenue was nearly $137,000, according to preliminary numbers.

More than $10,000 in revenue was generated by sales of prison-themed merchandise, while beverage sales neared $50,000.

Tickets were sold in the Joliet area and beyond with sales being made to people living in Champaign, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Nanoose Bay in Canada.

The city, which began leasing the prison in December from the state, hopes to turn the former Joliet Correctional Center into a tourist and visitor attraction.

Tours began the week after the Great Joliet Break-In and have generated $5,500 in gross revenue from 318 paying patrons, said Greg Peerbolte, executive director of the Joliet Area Historical Museum.

The museum runs the tours.

Peerbolte said 51 tours are scheduled through the end of October, and 19 are full. Typically, 30 to 40 people are on each tour, he said, but five spots are left open for anyone, especially Route 66 tourists from out of town or out of the country, who may be at the prison at the time the tour starts and want to join.

“Someone’s from New Zealand and never coming back, you feel terrible having to turn them away,” Peerbolte said.

Strong interest from Route 66 tourists wanting to see the inside of the prison while going through Joliet was one of the motivating factors in the city-museum partnership to open it up.

The disc golf tournament being held next month was organized by two local disc golf players and will serve as a fundraiser for the prison, said Quinn Adamowski, vice president of the museum board.

The 216-player tournament was filled 12 minutes after it was opened up to entries online, Adamowski said.

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