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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Fredenhagen Park comes alive with music, opens into Riverwalk Gateway


Under glorious late afternoon sunshine, Ted Fredenhagen’s 19-piece big band, Class Act II, performed to an appreciative audience of more than 200 concert goers  at his namesake park along Naperville’s Riverwalk Saturday.  The upbeat music included  jazz standards and tunes from Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Harry James and more, appealing to all ages.

Couples danced.  Youngsters  tried their first-ever square dips of ice cream. Adults reminisced about the times they enjoyed triple square dips of sherbet, One in a Million shakes, steakburgers and French fries at Cock Robin.

And several adults  remembered stories of about the times their mother or aunt  had worked at Prince Castle.

Naperville Municipal Band Director Ron Keller even sat in for a number with his tuba.

In addition, Riverwalk Commission Chairman Jeff Havel used the concert to reintroduce  the Prince Castle Monument marker that had been reset at the site where the ice cream businesses used to stand, near the Fredenhagen Park clock tower.  Havel also introduced the recently finished Riverwalk Gateway to North Central College, a project that had been in the works for several years.

The Prince Castle and Cock Robin restaurants were originally located at the current site of Fredenhagen Park and owned by Ted Fredenhagen’s late parents, Grace and Walter.   Fredenhagen and his sister, Rita Harvard, donated the land to the City of Naperville for use as a community park on the east extension of the Riverwalk. “It was the best thing we ever did,” Fredenhagen said during his remarks.

A Century Walk sculpture titled “Two in a Million,” a play off the name of the restaurant’s milkshake, “One in a Million,”  is located in the park as is its centerpiece Exchange Club Memories Fountain surrounded by a plaza of commemorative bricks and granite stones. Every visit to Fredenhagen Park is a chance to experience community spirit, the ideals of private enterprise and to make new memories “where memories were made” with friends and family for nearly 70 years.

This year’s concert was dedicated to the memory of  Rita Harvard, who passed away on June 15. And tributes to the park’s benefactor were glowing from family and friends, much appreciated by her husband, John Harvard, who also thanked Ted Fredenhagen and the band.

North Central College representatives also were  present.  Speaking on behalf of her husband, North Central College President Hal Wilde who was at an away Cardinals football game in Wisconsin, Benna Wilde said Harvard had become  her first friend when the Wildes moved to Naperville in 1991.  Wilde recognized the Fredenhagen family with memories of Harvard’s commitment to North Central, Naper Settlement and the Riverwalk.

Rick Spencer, VP  for Institutional Advancement at North Central College, shared his childhood memories of Cock Robin and “pickle sandwiches.” He also  invited concert goers to visit the newly finished gateway located between Fredenhagen Park and the college campus, welcoming all to return for Homecoming on October 27 when the new Riverwalk Gateway officially will be dedicated.

Tom Castagnoli, Harvard’s son, told the story of how he and his mother thought the 200-pound Prince Castle monument stone had been lost during the demolition of the structures on the property in 2000.  Then about six months ago, the Prince Castle monument stone, which had been located in the sidewalk outside of the Cock Robin restaurant, was found again, said Castagnoli.

The monument stone had served as a reminder of the original Prince Castle restaurant, which opened in 1931 and was demolished in 1967 to make way for Cock Robin, a larger, more modern version of the ice cream shop that also sold steakburgers and French fries.

Castagnoli went on to say that  long-time resident Jeff Williams recently came forward with the stone, which had been kept in its original state. Having grown up in Naperville and gone to Cock Robin as a youth, Williams has collected  many Cock Robin artifacts, including a genuine  steakburger that he encased in acrylic for perpetuity.

Castagnoli presented Williams, pictured in the red shirt,  with a “Be ONE in a Million” Cock Robin t-shirt for all of his efforts to save and protect the monument stone.

“You are one in a million,” said Castagnoli.

In honor of the re-dedication,  Jo Lundeen, Jan Erickson and Bruce Erickson served  square dips of ice cream  – a Prince Castle and Cock Robin specialty – in sugar wafer cones for a donation to the Riverwalk Foundation.

For more information about the Riverwalk, visit www.napervilleriverwalk.com or  contact Riverwalk Administrator Jan Erickson at (630) 305-5984.

The 4th annual concert again was sponsored by the Riverwalk Foundation, in cooperation with the Riverwalk Commission, the Naperville Park District and North Central College.

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RELATED PREVIOUS POSTS: Sept. 15-16 Weekend in Naperville

Overview of Riverwalk Fine Art Fair & Class Act II Concert at Fredenhagen Park

Fredenhagen Class Act II Concert at 4:30PM Sept 15 with photos from previous concerts

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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.