Way before downtown Naperville became known for its parades or its Riverwalk running through it, the DuPage River attracted settlers who began developing this city’s hub in 1831, one step at a time.
In 2014, much progress is present in this popular destination where many new merchants have opened in recent weeks to become a vibrant part of the historic landscape.
Downtown Naperville also attracts many seasonal events. For instance, the Naperville Central High School Class of 1974 celebrated its 40th reunion in September. Where did classmates plan to go first to begin connecting and celebrating? Downtown Naperville! Organized by Karen Hedblom Byers, seven classmates met at the recently-dedicated Century Walk mural, “Naperville Loves a Parade,” before heading to Features on Sept. 12 for an evening of reconnecting a bond that many classmates have shared since grade school.
Plus, throughout every week, every month all year, Anderson’s Bookshops hosts myriad special booksigning events, bringing many world-renown authors and their loyal readers to the bookstore at 123 W. Jefferson Avenue as well as to stages at North Central College, etc. Note also a special “Crayon Protest” at Anderson’s will begin at 11AM Sat., Oct. 4. Organizers invite all ages to learn why no crayon should be left behind.
In most months, on the first Tuesday, the West Suburban Irish host a trivia Quiz Night at Quigley’s Irish Pub.
On a selected Tuesday of the month, Heaven on Seven hosts 5-course beer dinners, featuring selections from a different craft brewery paired with New Orleans-style cooking.
Finding fun entertainment in downtown Naperville happens during the week, too.
Memorable downtown events will return in September 2015
The Naperville Art League 29th Annual Riverwalk Fine Art Fair wraps up today, rain or shine or wind. From 10AM to 5PM Sat. and Sun., Sept 20-21 , the Riverwalk and Jackson Avenue between Main and Eagle streets will serve as the natural backdrop for more than 100 artists to exhibit their creativity.
The Riverwalk is just steps from all the shops and eateries in downtown Naperville. For details about the art fair, visit www.napervilleartleague.com.
The Judd-A-Thon steps off at the Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873 at 10:01AM Sun., Sept. 21. The short 0.1K run (about the length of a football field) will be held at 908 W. Jackson Avenue, just west of the Riverwalk Fine Art Fair.
“The best part is that $20 of every donation will go directly to the VFW National Home for Children, in Eaton Rapids, Michigan. The National Home supports the children and families of killed or injured veterans, all the way from K through 12th grade,” said Mike Barbour, one of the organizers.
Here’s a brief recap of the 2014 Judd-A-Thon with a link to more than 100 fun photos. Barbour said the fun run already is being planned for 2015.
Folks who wanted could head back along Jackson Avenue to Eagle Street, take a right to Aurora Ave. and find Naper Settlement where the Midwest SOARRING Foundation is hosting annual two-day Harvest Pow Wow, finishing up Sun., Sept. 21 as the event celebrates Native American heritage.
Beginning at 11AM, the colorful ceremonial event that features dancing, cultural demonstrations, children’s games and crafts and many special educational presentations will close at 5PM on Sunday. For complete schedules and more information, visit www.midwestsoarring.org.
Get Away to Naperville
For information about planning a weekend getaway with an overnight stay at the independent, locally-owned Hotel Arista in CityGate Centre or another Naperville hotel, visit the Naperville Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Update! At 5AM Thurs., Sept. 23, the CBS Mobile2 vehicle rolled into Naperville for a live broadcast.
The weekend wrap up before October begins
Wrap up this month with the Fall 2014 Girls Weekend beginning Fri., Sept. 26 and running through Sun., Sept. 28.
This autumn weekend designed “for gals and their pals to enjoy fashion, food and fun with special savings and events all weekend long” returns with fashions shows , too, according to Katie Wood, Executive Director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance.
First up at Catch 35, enjoy brunch in style beginning at 9AM Fri., Sept 26, with a fashion show and prizes. $15 (plus tax and gratuity). Call Catch 35 to make a reservation at (630) 717-3500.
Then at 10AM Sat., Sept 27, Sullivan’s Steakhouse will host brunch, fashion show and prizes. $15 (plus tax and gratuity). Call Sullivan’s to make a reservation at (630) 305-0230.
For all the details, visit www.downtownnaperville.com.
Discover many new merchants in downtown
Since mid-August, the landscape in downtown Naperville has been opening up with more happenings and opportunities to shop, dine and be entertained day by day. New retailers in Main Place and Main Street Promenade East add to the variety of attractive established merchants such as Dean’s Fine Clothing, Anderson’s Bookshop and Quigley’s Irish Pub. Note also that Hugo’s Frog Bar and Fish House in the original Main Street Promenade is celebrating its first decade as part of the mix.
- Sephora – recently opened at 132 W. Jefferson, between Apple and Apricot Lane in Main Place
- ME Spa (formerly Coldwater Creek the Spa) – recently opened at 55 S. Main Street, 2nd floor in the Main Street Promenade
- DavidsTea – recently opened at 50 S. Main Street (along Van Buren) in the new Main Street Promenade East
- Evereve (formerly named Hot Mama) recently moved and opened their new store at 50 S. Main Street (corner of Main & Van Buren) in the new Main Street Promenade East
- J.Crew – recently opened at 50 S. Main Street (corner of Main & Van Buren) in the new Main Street Promenade East
- Naf Naf Grill – recently opened at 22 E. Chicago (corner of Chicago & Washington) in River Square
- Follow news of additional newcomers in October and November when Anthropologie, Frost Gelato, J. Jill and Michael Graham Salon & Spa are slated to open their doors.
For more information about these businesses and special calendar dates, visit www.downtownnaperville.com.
Downtown October Treats
Looking forward to October, downtown Naperville turns its focus to fall and many colorful new store windows contributing to the lifestyle of the city’s central business district.
Anthropologie, a shop featuring women’s clothing, accessories and home decor, is slated to open on October 3 at 50 S. Main Street (corner of Main & Van Buren) in the new Main Street Promenade East, next door to J. Crew.
Frost Gelato, located next to DavidsTea, also is opening in October in the new Main Street Promenade East facing Van Buren Avenue.
Downtown Trick or Treat returns at 11AM to 1PM Sun., Oct. 26. Be sure to note the new time now is set.
Participating merchants welcome families to visit for great gobs ‘o fun and sweet treats when downtown hosts a good time for costumed goons and goblins, along with their parents, to wander door to door to Trick or Treat. Families also can hop on board the Trick or Treat trolley which will be circling downtown, from 11AM-1PM, free of charge, compliments of the Main Street Promenade.
Safety first! To keep it extra safe and secure, downtown’s interior roads on Main and Jefferson will be closed from 11AM-1PM for trick or treating. Costumed characters, crafts and photos, too, will be featured at the Main Street Promenade. Activities begin at 11AM and go until 1PM, or until the candy runs out.
For complete details and updates including all participating downtown businesses, visit www.downtownnaperville.com
Looking forward to the 2014 Holiday Season
In 2012, a showcase of fiberglass snowmen decorated by local artists rolled into the downtown streetscape for the holidays, followed in 2013 by tasty-looking gingerbread men (and women) sculptures.
For 2014, train sculptures are on track to hit the sidewalks running beginning at 6PM Fri., Nov. 7. Add to that evening’s festivities thousands of twinkling bright holiday lights and downtown Naperville will begin celebrating good cheer, decked out for the season.
The introduction of the attractive train sculpture display also is scheduled just in time to welcome the Edward Hospital Naperville Marathon & Half Marathon on Sun., Nov. 9. Downtown visitors can watch the runners and stay for brunch, lunch or dinner. Chew! Chew! Chew! For Naperville Marathon updates, visit www.naperville26.com.
Also, Michael Graham Salon & Spa anticipates opening in November at 50 S. Main Street (corner of Main & Van Buren) in the new Main Street Promenade East.
J. Jill will return to Naperville, opening early November along Van Buren (corner of Webster & Van Buren) where Hot Mama (now Evereve) used to be in the Main Street Promenade.
All the new merchants will be open in time for the holiday shopping season. All the new merchants will accept Downtown Naperville gift cards.
Downtown Thanksgiving Weekend
Fast forward to Thanksgiving weekend when the Naperville Noon Lions again will host their annual Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27.
And top off the holiday weekend when the Little Friends Parade of Lights returns at 5PM on Sun., Nov. 30.
With a blink of your eyes, holiday shopping will become a passing fancy and the downtown merchants will host Ringin’ in the New Year from noon to 5PM on Wed., Dec. 31. The daytime family fun event downtown on New Year’s Eve leads up to an early evening countdown to ring in 2015 at 6PM from the base of the Moser Tower with the 72-bell carillon at Rotary Hill along the Riverwalk.
All through the day and night and year… Downtown Gift Cards
No matter what the season, Downtown Naperville Gift Cards make sensible, usable gifts for anyone for any special occasion “or just because,” said Wood.
Redeemable at more than 150 downtown shops, spas and restaurants, Downtown Naperville gift cards may be purchased for any amount from $10-$500. Every DNA Gift Card comes enclosed in a bright and colorful jacket along with a list of all the businesses where it may be used. No fee is attached to the purchase of a Downtown Naperville Gift Cards.
Downtown Naperville gift cards may be purchased in person at the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce (Main Street Promenade, suite 351); Heaven on Seven (224 S. Main Street), Elan Boutique (143 E. Jefferson) or Twisted Olive (232 S. Washington). For convenience, individuals also may purchase gift cards online at downtownnaperville.com to be mailed to the purchaser or recipient.
Katie Wood, Executive Director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance, contributed events and store opening dates to this story.