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Monday, February 6, 2023

Riverwalk Reflections, 1-10, help tell a 40-year-old story

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Above / Civic Plaza at Webster Street leads to and from plenty of shopping, dining and parking in downtown Naperville. Come visit every day!

Happy 40th Birthday to the Riverwalk!

The Naperville Riverwalk turns 40 on Labor Day 2021, and the Riverwalk Foundation in partnership with the Riverwalk Commission and Downtown Naperville Alliance will host a brief “rededication” to celebrate. The monumental event is set for 2PM, Mon., Sept. 6, aiming to be a simple tribute to the “can-do” spirit that created the Riverwalk for the City’s sesquicentennial in 1981 in the heart of downtown.

The 40th-year rededication event will take place along the path of Phase 1 between Main and Webster streets, welcoming folks to gather with others who love and appreciate the Riverwalk that is free and open to visitors every day. A group sing of “Happy Birthday, dear Riverwalk” is planned, encouraging attendees to reflect on the first 40 years of this natural treasure, mindful that amenities such as the Riverwalk “don’t just happen.” The community’s pride and joy that stretches all along the winding West Branch of the DuPage River from Jefferson Avenue to Hillside Road also needs care and maintenance every day, too.

In August, John Pennick, aka the “Surgeon of Bronze,” brought to life more than 30 plaques and bench markers during a project funded by the Naperville Riverwalk Foundation and coordinated by RW Foundation President John Cuff. A generous donor provided $4,000 for the 40th birthday project. Other funds were raised from the Riverwalk Duck Race and commemorative brick sales.

Afterward, plan a visit to stroll the Riverwalk where you’ll see the recent work accomplished by fine craftsmen from Matthews International / Memorialization Group. Starting at Main Street with the Harold and Eva White Plaza, John Pennick (aka “Surgeon of Bronze”) and Carmen Ciriglliano have brought back the luster to dozens of commemorative plaques that recognize many generous donors since 1981.

And when you have a few minutes, consider scrolling down this post to read day-by-day Riverwalk Reflections, the first 10 of the 40 daily social media posts that began on July 29, 2021, featured on the Positively Naperville Facebook. The memories with photos only begin to tell the story of the Riverwalk. More than a few times, the Riverwalk has been called “the gift that keeps on giving.”

A few more things: Immediately following the brief rededication, folks can venture over to the Pinot’s Palette Last Fling booth from 2 to 4PM along Jackson Avenue. That’s where coupons for cake or ice cream at downtown Naperville sweet shops, one per person and redeemable on Sept. 6, Sept. 7 or Sept. 8, will be available while the supply lasts. Just ask!

Of course, downtown Naperville shops, services and restaurants welcome Riverwalk visitors every day, too.

The reflections with photos that follow may seem repetitious because sometimes they will be. Posting photos and captions on social media come with the assumption that readers might have missed a previous post due. That’s due to management controls that are out of our control.

Riverwalk Reflections July 29 through Aug. 7, 2021

Riverwalk Reflection #1 / July 29, 2021, began the first of 40 days of 40 Riverwalk Reflections, leading up to a brief rededication ceremony set for 2PM on Labor Day, Sept. 6. The 40-day focus, a small sampling of memories, is intended to be a way to say “thanks” to all friends of the Riverwalk who pitched in to commemorate Naperville’s Sesquicentennial in 1981. 

Find this plaque located along the wall of the fishing pier at the Farmer’s Plaza along Eagle Street.

Back in the late 1970s, a citizen’s committee of volunteers worked under the umbrella of the Naperville Sesquicentennial Commission led by Chairman Frank J. Allston. Special events included the Sesquicentennial Ball, the reenactment of Joe Naper’s trek from Chicago to Naperville, & a Grand Parade with thousands of spectators. Napervillian talent was showcased in “Naperville Live” and “Follies.”

An array of inviting fundraisers benefited the community’s support of the Riverwalk, a new winding path imagined along the DuPage River, serpentine brick by serpentine brick.

1931 Naperville Sesquicentennial Riverwalk 1981 Plaque / Before “Surgeon of Bronze”

Note the large granite marker lists the early designers and donors to the Riverwalk. That’s the spot where the rededication and a group sing of “Happy Birthday, dear Riverwalk,” will take place at 2PM on Sept. 6, 2021.

Step onto the Riverwalk at Main Street between Jackson Avenue and Chicago Avenue in downtown Naperville. The Fountain Horse Trough was presented to the City by Phillip Beckman.

Riverwalk regular Jerry Widauk remembers when he and his son volunteered to help lay serpentine bricks back in 1981. He also recalls “Riverwalk Visionaries,” Jim Moser and Mayor Chet Rybicki, stopped along the path to inspire volunteers.

“Riverwalk Visionaries,” a Century Walk sculpture, depicts images of businessman Jim Moser and Mayor Chester Rybicki, the men behind the private/public partnership that first envisioned the Riverwalk.

Citizens were ready to dig in for the Naperville Sesquicentennial Community Commemorative Project at Main Street and Jackson Ave.

Vintage photos help tell the story and are mixed among more recent images.  

Youngsters helped lay bricks along Jackson Avenue near Eagle Street.

Back in the early 1980s, volunteers of all ages placed the soldier bricks along the curb and the signature serpentine bricks for the path. 

Here local youngsters were setting the brick path in sand near Eagle Street along Jackson Avenue.

Though Positively Naperville did not exist back in 1981, nor did its publisher live in this city at that time, volumes of stories and photos from residents who helped build the Riverwalk are ever present in our recollections of this City’s can-do spirit. And many of those stories attracted our attention, inspiring us to relocate here in the early 1990s.

Back in 2016 during efforts by the Riverwalk Foundation to fulfill its mission to educate about the Riverwalk, many residents wrote 35 words for 35 years.

We recounted our first visit to Naperville at the invitation of Candyce Krumwiede, our cousin who lived here at the time. For several years during family reunions, the Krumwiedes had encouraged our visit to Naperville.

“On New Year’s Day 1993, I visited Naperville and the Riverwalk with my cousin, Candyce Krumwiede, for the first time. While she shared the city’s sesquicentennial story, downtown’s grand illumination began to glisten. That instant, I caught the spirit of Naperville.” 

Charles Vincent “Chuck” George

Little did we imagine on that New Year’s Day, that we’d become acquainted with Riverwalk Commission Chairman Cliff Preston while attending Grace United Methodist Church or Riverwalk architect Chuck George via the Rotary Club of Naperville, both of whom encouraged our involvement for future endeavors. 

Recently George, founder of Charles Vincent George Architects (aka CVG) wrote, “I always thought the ultimate architectural product would be a skyscraper…My skyscraper is the Riverwalk and all those wonderful people that use it every day.”

Riverwalk Reflection #2 / Raising private dollars for the Naperville Riverwalk built by volunteers, brick by brick, first began as a way to celebrate the city’s 1981 sesquicentennial anniversary.

Back in 1997, recognizing the growing popularity of the brick path, folks planned to extend the Riverwalk to Hillside Road during a campaign known as Riverwalk 2000. Promotions advanced the private/public partnership all along the way, welcoming everybody’s donations, large or small, to augment funds from the City of Naperville.

Riverwalk Reflection #3 / The inaugural Walk On! in Memory of Chuck Papanos, former North Parks and Riverwalk operations manager, a charity walk for the Lymphoma Research Foundation, was a new event (July 31, 2021), among many that will be remembered when our natural treasure celebrates its first 40 years on Labor Day. Throughout the year, the Riverwalk has become a colorful backdrop for a variety of walks, art fairs, festivals and reunions. Imagine how many millions of dollars have been raised during special events held on the Riverwalk.

Photo by James Hoch Photography

Riverwalk Reflection #4 / Riverwalk Architect Charles Vincent George gave the name “crown jewel” to the winding brick path when interviewed for a Chicago Tribune story during its early development for the City’s sesquicentennial in 1981. Chuck George also imagined Civic Plaza, the popular gathering place with the Dandelion Fountain near the covered bridge donated by Mr. & Mrs. Harold E. Moser & Mr. & Mrs. Jim L. Moser.

For dozens of years, kids have enjoyed the spray of the Dandelion Fountain, located along the Riverwalk at Jackson and Webster streets in the heart of downtown Naperville.

Look up when entering the first of three covered bridges along the Naperville Riverwalk. Crossing the DuPage River at Webster Street, the covered bridge was donated in 1981 by Mr. & Mrs. Harold E. Moser and Mr. and Mrs. Jim L. Moser.

Many plaques nestled in the landscape help tell the story of generosity that built the winding path.

Civic Plaza leads to and from plenty of shopping and dining in downtown Naperville. Come visit!

The Naperville Riverwalk celebrates its first 40 years on Labor Day. Come sing “Happy Birthday, dear Riverwalk!” at 2PM Mon., Sept. 6., at the landmark monument just east of the Dandelion Fountain. And enjoy the ever-changing beauty of the city’s natural treasure along the DuPage River every season from Hillside Road to Jefferson Avenue.

1931 Naperville Sesquicentennial Riverwalk 1981 Plaque / After “Surgeon of Bronze”

Riverwalk Reflection #5 / A large low monument nestled along the Riverwalk credits Charles Vincent George & Associates as Riverwalk Architects and Hitchcock Design as Landscape Architect with gratitude to all who contributed to create “a lasting commemorative of the Sesquicentennial.” 

Located east of the Dandelion Fountain and west of Exchange Club Veterans Plaza, the Riverwalk monument lists names of many generous donors who helped make the Riverwalk a wonderful reality in the heart of the City’s central business district.

Commemorative medallions placed along the Riverwalk and other souvenirs such as Stenger Beer by the can were sold to raise funds for the Riverwalk coffers during the big birthday bash for the city’s 150th year. A decade later, a reunion of the Commission was held in 1991 to enhance the feelings of civic pride generated by the Sesquicentennial celebration in 1981. Cheers!

Hitchcock Design is credited for “Riverwalk Landscape” on the large granite monument along the brick path, just east of the Dandelion Fountain and west of Veterans Plaza.

Cliff Preston, Rick Hitchcock, Tom Preston and Kevin Gallaher set a bench along the Riverwalk extension in 2001.

Nearly 20 years later, Rick Hitchcock joined Riverwalk Commission Chairman Cliff Preston, Tom Preston and Kevin Gallaher, still pitching into the community’s pride and joy when the path extended toward Hillside Road in 2001.

When visiting the Riverwalk, note the large granite monument along the brick path, just east of the Dandelion Fountain and west of Veterans Plaza. The Riverwalk monument lists names of many generous donors who helped make the Riverwalk a wonderful reality in the heart of the City’s central business district.

Landscape architect Rick Hitchcock, former Mayor Peg Price and former Riverwalk Commission Chairman Cliff Preston are pictured during a tour of the winding brick path. Mayor Price often said development of the Riverwalk provided her with the most joy of all projects under her watch from 1983-1991.

Price also served Naperville City Council, the Riverwalk Commission and Riverwalk Foundation.

Riverwalk Reflection #6 / Rocks of ages tell the story. A large rock west of Eagle Street where the Riverwalk winds around the Paddleboat Quarry commemorates the Centennial Park Dedication on June 6, 1931. A large number of plaques on rocks hidden throughout the Riverwalk landscape help tell the history of what’s to be celebrated and remembered along the DuPage River.

The DuPage County Sesquicentennial rock recognizes that Naperville was the first county seat. The Farmer’s Plaza is located near the Eagle Street Bridge. Find the Naperville Masonic Temple Plaza along the Riverwalk extension between the Washington Street and Hillside Road bridges.

Riverwalk Reflection #7 / Though historic Centennial Beach, built is 1931, suddenly appears along the Riverwalk by peeking through the fence, the popular recreational area that welcomes kids to build sandcastles, groups to play volleyball and families to swim in the old quarry is located in Centennial Park.

Centennial Beach, aka “The Beach,” oftentimes also is referred to as “They City’s first gift to itself.”

As the Riverwalk runs along Centennial Beach, recreational activity is fun to watch. Look north to see the Naperville Park District Administration Building as well as the steeple at Ss. Peter & Paul in the distance. Look south to see the rushing DuPage River, beautiful landscape and Moser Tower with its 72-bell carillon.

In fact, it’s visible all around and even watching the Adult Float on weekends is relaxing…

Jen Jansen DiNello wrote, “Beautiful pics of a place very near and dear to my family’s heart!!”

Nancy Nesti wrote “Pier tag anyone?”

Riverwalk Reflection #8 / To give everyone a chance to support the Riverwalk 2000 campaign that helped raise private dollars for the extension from Washington to Hillside, two colorfully painted DuPage River “Banks” (designed on large oil drums donated by Ed Channell) collected loose change and dollar bills along the existing pathway for five years.

The Riverwalk 2000 Steering Committee included Co-Chairmen Ed Channell and Glen Ekey with volunteers Don Barnickle, Brand Bobosky, Barb Dwyer, Barbara Garavalia, Kevin Gallaher, Ray Kinney, Ray Lenart, Joe McElroy, Stephanie Penick, Jack Powell, John Pruehs, Russ Vass, Mary Lou Wehrli and Peg Yonker. Ed Channell ran tight meetings with action plans. No monkey business.

The Riverwalk 2000 Campaign provided private funds for the extension from the Washington Street Bridge to the Hillside Road Bridge. The private/public project was finished by 2002. 

The Rotary Club of Naperville stepped up with a donation to fund Rotary Plaza right by the Washington Street Bridge and near the Cock Robin property, imagined to be Fredenhagen Park at a later date.

The original fundraising goal of $500,000 for the Riverwalk 2000 Campaign was exceeded by July 1997, and nearly doubled by the time the extension was completed in 2002.

Start at the Washington Street Bridge along the Riverwalk extension to find the first major gift to the Riverwalk 2000 campaign in 1997 near the site of the former Cock Robin Ice Cream store, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Naperville. Walter Fredenhagen, owner of Cock Robin and the Naperville Creamery, had been the second president of the Rotary Club of Naperville.

Many years later, his daughter, Rita Fredenhagen Harvard, served RCN as president. Rita was behind many great things that have happened in this community, including Fredenhagen Park.

Depicted as “Two in a Million” in bronze for Century Walk, Grace & Walter Fredenhagen were visionaries in business & community as well as creators of “one in a million” milkshakes. Walter owned and operated Prince Castles & Cock Robin ice cream shops from 1931-1993, laying the foundation for fast-food giants. The sculpture behind Rotary Plaza features the duo that worked together in the family business, providing many local jobs at their ice cream factory and retail shops. Grace also was instrumental in restoring and furnishing the Martin Mitchell Mansion as well as acquiring the land that is now the Edward Hospital campus. Walter was the second president of the Rotary Club of Naperville. Many years later, his daughter, Rita Fredenhagen Harvard, also served RCN as president. 

Riverwalk Reflection #9 / At the time of the Riverwalk 2000 Campaign for the extension of the winding brick path from the Washington Street Bridge to Hillside Road, the Riverwalk Commission was led by Chairman Cliff Preston with Commissioners Frank Allston, Hal Dickson, Ruth Fawell, Chuck Koch, Bill Lewis, Jim Moser, Al Rubin and Dennis Ulrey.

The architect’s design renderings approved by the Commission included a gazebo, a major gift that was funded by the Naperville Jaycees.

Thanks to fundraising, in part, from Last Fling, the Naperville Jaycees funded the Jaycees Gazebo located near what became Fredenhagen Park in 2004.

Back in 2000, Riverwalk Commission Chairman Cliff Preston (a former Jaycee) helped to build the Gazebo.

Riverwalk Commission Chairman Cliff Preston, who had been member of the Naperville Jaycees when the service club first got started in the mid-1950s, also was present to thank all members of the Jaycees for their generous donation and can-do spirit for the Riverwalk extension.

The Jaycees Gazebo is among the major picturesque amenities along the Riverwalk extension as it winds along the DuPage River east of Washington Street. For the past 20-plus years, the Jaycees Gazebo has served as a popular setting for weddings, engagements, college and high school graduation photos, etc.

Michele Clemen included a photo and comment on the PN FB page. Michele and Adam had photos from their wedding taken in the Jaycees Gazebo!

Riverwalk Reflection #10 / Entrepreneurs and brothers, Jim Moser and Harold Moser, coordinated building the covered bridge over the DuPage River near the Civic Plaza with the Dandelion Fountain, the first of three covered bridges along the Riverwalk.

Naperville native and former Riverwalk Commissioner Bill Anderson shared a photo memory of his four children pictured at the Dandelion Fountain back in the 20th century.

Civic Plaza is one of the most popular gathering places along the Riverwalk, located at Webster and Jackson. Bill Anderson remembers how his four now-grown children enjoyed visiting the Dandelion Fountain when they were little.

Walk over the Moser Covered Bridge at Webster Street that leads to City Hall, the Naperville Township Building, Jaycees Park, Hotel Indigo and other Water Street attractions, including a parking deck. Keep walking along Webster Street toward Aurora Avenue where you’ll find Naper Settlement, the city’s outdoor history museum.

The second covered bridge built to cross the DuPage River is accessible from the south side at the base of Rotary Hill near the Riverwalk Cafe and Moser Tower. Heading north, the bridge leads toward Centennial Beach and the Naperville Park District Administration Building along Jackson Ave.

Entrepreneur Jim Moser also coordinated building the third covered bridge over the DuPage River near Burger King in memory of his parents, Dr. Edward & Cecelia Moser. It’s mostly referred to as the “Moser Bridge.” 

The Riverwalk Footbridge leads from the south side of the DuPage River to Centennial Park and Centennial Beach. When the Riverwalk Foundation hosts its Duck Race, up to 2,000 plastic colorful quackers are dropped from this bridge where they are rushed by the river to be captured near the Eagle Street Bridge.

Downtown Naperville features nine bridges that cross the DuPage River. Five are vehicular bridges with one at Hillside Road, Washington Street, Main Street, Eagle Street and Jefferson Avenue. Three are Riverwalk Covered Bridges. One is a footbridge. This is it!

The big drop of nearly 2,000 plastic ducks for the Riverwalk Duck Race, established in 2016, takes place at the footbridge, just steps from Centennial Park. The fundraising event hosted by the Riverwalk Foundation aims to return in 2022.

Signs along the low-flow walkway remind Riverwalk patrons, all ages, that feeding ducks and geese can have deleterious effects on the wildlife and the environment. Never feed wildlife human snacks or bread crumbs. Watch wildlife find food naturally. Help keep the walkways clean from goose droppings. Help the DuPage River stay clean.

Remember, don’t feed the ducks and geese. Let wildlife be wild.

Thanks for reading. Groups of ten Riverwalk Reflections will be linked to this page until 2PM Labor Day, Sept. 6, 2021, when a special “Happy Birthday dear Riverwalk” group sing will be hosted by the Riverwalk Foundation in recognition of all the past contributions that created our city’s pride and joy in the heart of downtown Naperville. Cheers!

Click here to find Riverwalk Reflections, 11 through 20.

Click here to find Riverwalk Reflections, 21 through 30.

Click here to find Riverwalk Reflections, 31 through 40.

Thanks for reading!

Disclaimer! Certainly these Riverwalk Reflections are not all-inclusive. Any important omissions are regretted. These 40 so-called snippets and factoids are focused mostly on Phases 1-3 from Main Street to Rotary Hill. The Riverwalk Commission currently has a Master Plan for 2031. Read all about it on the City of Naperville website. Thank you.

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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