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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Memorable milestones of 2013


Downtown eyesore demolished

The eyesore commercial building at 420-440 S. Washington St. in downtown Naperville that has been vacant for years was demolished on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. The City Council awarded a contract at its December 18, 2012, meeting to demolish the building that has had a long history of various uses in the City. Buildings on the property date back to 1930 and through the years housed various commercial enterprises. 

Artist rendering courtesy of NCC
Artist rendering courtesy of NCC

North Central College and the City of Naperville indeed are partnering to convert the property into a public park and an additional entryway to campus, the Riverwalk and downtown Naperville.

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St. Patrick’s Day Parade celebrated 20 years

St Patricks Parade 2013 (17)

A striking contrast to the sunny, warm temperatures in 2012, the temperature hovered in the mid-30 degree range, dipping to nearly freezing with snow flurries for a few minutes.

The sights and sounds of the popular parade included colorful floats, motorcycles, fire engines, bag pipers, scouts, political candidates, elected officials, teams of dog rescue organizations, roaring go-carts, a Yes at Large trolley and Irish spirit from beginning to end. Kevin Dolan, founder of the St. Patrick’s Parade in 1993, served as Grand Marshall. Bob Welsh also returned to portray St. Patrick.

Warm waves and memorable smiles came from more than 100 parade entries, including the float with the 2013 Naperville St. Patrick’s Parade Queen, Mary Kate Zimmerman, and her Court as well as Nonnie Marovich, the 2012 Grand Marshall and member of West Suburban Irish since its inception 20 years ago.

Despite the cold, thousands of parade-goers, many of whom had purchased collectible West Suburban Irish signature scarves that feature a different pattern every year, lined the route for a whole morning of traditional entertainment in downtown Naperville. Though the crowds were smaller than warmer years, many still topped off the morning with brunch or lunch at one of more than 40 eateries, including Quigley’s Irish Pub where revelers packed the heated tent on the patio set up for Saturday and St. Patrick’s Day.

Vintage Little League

The Naperville Little League All-Stars who shined as the 1963 Illinois State Champions were  Tom Bursh, front left, Brian Fosse, Barry Heidt, Tom Winrow, Bill Gorski, Steve Lawrowski and Jim Thomas. Mike Ballou, second left, Jerry Hills, Jay Wheeler, Gregg Blair, Francis Metz, Gregg Hepner and Irv Porter. Coach Ron Spamer, back left, George Schultz, Jerry Sackman, Larry Dietrich, Steve Giere, Jim Shoger and Manager Wilbert Hageman.


During the opening day for the 2013 Little League Season, ten members of the 1963 Naperville All-Stars gathered in Centennial Park to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their winning season that took them all the way to the Northern Region Tournament. During festivities, the players presented Wilbert Hageman with a special plaque in memory of the occasion, a series that lives on in the hearts and minds of sports-minded Napervillians.

The plaque reads, “The Most Successful Manager In Naperville Baseball History. No Team Has Gone as Far… No Team Had as Much Fun. 1963 Naperville Little League All Stars, Illinois State Champions, One Pitch Away from Williamsport.”

The ten players in attendance were Jay Wheeler, Steve Giere, Brian Fosse, Bill Gorski, Francis Metz, Irv Porter, George Shultz, Jerry Sackman, Larry Dietrich and Steve Lawroski.

Though the All-Stars lost in the regionals, fans loved them perhaps because players had tried to live up to the Little League Pledge: “I trust in God, I love my country and will respect its laws. I will play fair and strive to win; but win or loose, I will always do my best.”

May Watts and the Prairie Path at 50 years


With 487 words, Naperville’s May Theilgaard Watts changed history. Her letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune, published on Sept. 30, 1963 proposed a public footpath. She has been recognized as the founder of the rails-to-trails movement in the United States and throughout the world. Today, 50 years later, a series of recently-built trails now link her hometown with her Illinois Prairie Path.

Naperville celebrates lagering pastime with inaugural Ale Fest

Naperville Ale Fest 2013

The inaugural Naperville Ale Fest tapped off Saturday, July 20, 2013 on the historic grounds of Naper Settlement to celebrate the liquid enterprise of craft brewing and the bibulous spirit of enthusiasts. More than 4,000 attendees enjoyed an afternoon of ales, food and music.

The Chicago craft brewing scene has exploded in recent years and its economic impact has created hundreds of jobs locally. A decade ago, there was a handful of craft breweries and brewpubs in Illinois – now there are several dozen.  The local beer scene looks promising in 2014.

Thanks, Café Buonaro’s, for 23 years-plus of memories!


In mid-July, the good folks at Café Buonaro’s—Regina “Tina,” Michelle, Tina Marie and the entire Buonauro family— came to a decision that they would be closing their independent family-owned Italian restaurant at the end of September.

The popular destination established by the late Ron Buonauro in 1990 at Fifth Avenue Station has been their “home away from home for 23 years,” noted Tina Marie Buonauro Connaughey. Celebrating a long run of 23 years, Cafe Buonaro’s has provided many loyal patrons with wonderful memories, much joy and laughter and many opportunities to support charitable causes over dinner and wine—with many lively fundraising auctions thrown into the mix.

At 50, Naperville architectural firm is recognized for local landmarks and more

Charles Vincent George Architects celebrated their first 50 years of creating a design aesthetic for communities across Chicagoland while showcasing their new offices on 1245 E Diehl Road at Washington Street in September.

The land planners, architects and designers of myriad public, commercial and residential projects—including Naperville’s famed Riverwalk and Moser Tower with the Millennium Carillon— were surrounded by family, friends and clients as they gathered to toast their growth and development as well as their future.

Founded by Chuck George in 1962, Charles Vincent George Architects initially was bolstered by work for well-known developers including Ralph Smykal and Harold Moser. In the ensuing years, the firm contributed to a community sense of style that ranged from bold residential statements to unifying public planning and building projects that set the guidelines for future development.

“Bruce asked me to give my insights into the first 50 years of practice in two minutes,” said Chuck George as he addressed the packed reception area of the newly-designed offices. “That reminds me an old movie called the ‘Time Machine’.”

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PN Ombudsman
PN Ombudsman
An ombudsman is Scandinavian in origin dating back to Viking times; and refers to a community representative; usually acting independently on behalf of an organization, body of elected officials, or civic group. Thanks Scandinavia for inventing ombudsman.


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