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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Fredenhagen Park: the Riverwalk’s tranquil confines


Note to Readers: This story originaily was featured on the cover of the July 2012 issue of PN.  In 2013, the memories remain the same, but the beautiful Fredenhagen Park is now complemented by the North Central College Riverwalk Gateway and other spectacular views.  Enjoy!

Exchange Club Memories Fountain

Ah, yes, memories of Exchange Club of Naperville and Ribfest!

Ten years ago, the tenth issue of Positively Naperville featured members of the Exchange Club of Naperville for its first front page story about Ribfest. At the time, the volunteer service club was preparing for its 15th Ribfest, one of the club’s two major fundraisers. The other was its go- kart race called the Grand Prix held in September. By 2002, the Exchange Club, chartered in 1987, already had raised $2 million dollars to help fight child abuse and domestic violence.

In 2002, Mike Maher served as Ribfest chairman. Foreigner, Poi Dog Pondering and Dave Mason were featured Main Stage headliners. Maher had reminised about inviting the community to the best barbecue festival in America’s heartland for 15 consecutive years, noting back then that the event already had been recognized as the “Best Fest in the Midwest” nine times.

And then memories of how Ribfest had grown from a small rib tasting at Rotary Hill to a family-friendly festival at Knoch Park began to flourish.

Later that year, soon after one of the last Grand Prix events, the Exchange Club of Naperville broke new ground by entering into a unique partnership with the Riverwalk Foundation, the volunteer group that serves as a conduit for funding Riverwalk enhancements.

At the time, the Fredenhagen Park Fundraising Campaign, co-chaired by Ed Channell and John Schmitt, was in full force, accepting donations for plazas, gardens, pillars and benches for the soon-to-be developed gateway park with a fountain as its centerpiece. The planned park was to be developed at the site of the landmark Cock Robin Restaurant near the Washington Street Bridge on property that had been graciously given to the City of Naperville by Rita Harvard and Ted Fredenhagen in honor of their parents, Grace and Walter Fredenhagen. Harvard emplasized her wishes for the the park to be a showcase of community spirit.

Over a period of six years, the Exchange Club committed to sell 600 commemorative bricks at $250 each and 40 granite stones at $2,500 each in order to raise a donation of $250,000 for the naming rights to the fountain at Fredenhagen Park.

According to Don Emery who served as the first chairman of the Exchange Club Memories Fountain Committee, all of the club members who voted for the proposal viewed the chance to partner with the Riverwalk Foundation as a “rare one-time opportunity” to make a visible contribution to the community, taking the club’s mission to another level.

“While we spend most of our energy at Ribfest raising money for a variety of programs to reduce child abuse and domestic violence,” explained Emery in 2002, “we also view part of our mission to help strengthen families in the community. It is our sincere hope that we can add something to Napervile’s ‘crown jewel’ and to create additional visibility for the Exchange Club and its critical mission.”

Thanks to the dedication of Exchangite Donna Sable who coordinated orders for bricks and stones and all their messages for nearly a decade, the Exchange Club Memories Fountain Committee exceeded its commitment in brick sales.

Since the ribbon cutting during the 2003 Hometown Holidays event, the plaza surrounding the Exchange Club Memories Fountain continually has been set for perpipuity with engraved messages of faith, hope and charity. Orders for commemorative bricks and stones are still being accepted.

As the Exchange Club of Naperville celebrates its 25th anniversary year with Walter Johnson as president and Mark Wright as chairman of the 25th annual Ribfest, be mindful that today the service club has raised more than $12 million for grants to local social service agencies.

Folks who visit Rome remember Treve Fountain. In Grant Park, the Buckingham Fountain is an impressive landmark. At Fredenhagen Park, Exchange Club Memories Fountain creates a confines of reflection along the Riverwalk.

Buy a Brick!

To order a commemorative brick ($250) or stone ($2,500) for Fredenhagen Park, contact Riverwalk Administrator Jan Erickson at the City of Naperville via ericksonj@naperville.il.us or (630) 305-5984.

2013 Class Act II Big Band Jazz Concert 

Fredenhagen Park will come alive with music again when Ted Fredenhagen returns with his Class Act II Big Band for its 5th annual concert on Sat., Sept. 14. Folks usually begin arriving at 4PM for the 4:30PM concert.  The free concert, hosted and sponsored by the Riverwalk Foundation, is held at the end of the first day of the 2-day Naperville Riverwalk Fine Art Fair.

Ted Fredenhagen and his sister, Rita Harvard, presented the property (formerly the home of Prince Castles and Cock Robin ice cream enterprises)  to the City of Naperville for a park as a tribute to their parents, Grace and Walter Fredenhagen.

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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.


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