Bicentennial Park is more than gnomes, pumpkins and boats
By DENISE M. BARAN–UNLAND - firstname.lastname@example.org
JOLIET – Does hearing the name “Bicentennial Park” make you think “Festival of Gnomes,” “Pumpkin Fest” and “Waterway Days?”
This past year, the Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park has added an array of new events – with more to come.
When the City of Joliet hired Debbie Greene as development director and Lori Carmine as park manager, city officials mentioned they wanted to see expanded programming to make the park more relevant to everyone, Carmine said.
“I think they had this idea that the park could be more than what it had been,” Carmine said. “It had been very successful in the past. But we kept doing things the the same way when the world seemed to be changing.”
Many of the new events had a light turnout, but those who did attend enjoyed them, Carmine said. This is encouraging, as park staff decide which ones to keep, even while planning still more events – such as a women’s empowerment conference on Aug. 26 – and adding twists to existing ones.
A few new vendors are coming to the annual fireworks show, which will be July 1. River Fest, the one-day event that replaced the former three-day Waterway Daze in July, returns Aug. 12.
The lighted boat parade is gone, but the boats will be parked for viewing, Carmine said. And Concerts on the Hill, held each Thursday evening through Aug. 31, has some new features.
For instance, on June 8, the park held a Mambo Night featuring Grammy nominee Angel Melendez and his Tributo Lavoe, “which brought in some new people, which was nice to see,” Carmine said.
“We’re also doing a folk and blues night on June 22 and a swing dance contest one night,” Carmine said.