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Naperville
Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Riverwalk Reflections, 21-30, help tell a 40-year-old story

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Above / This view from Eagle Street where the Riverwalk begins to venture west toward its final destination at the Jefferson Street Bridge is a showcase of attractions, all named in the spirit of generosity from local donors.

First, the Farmer’s Plaza dedicated in 1988 features the Farmer’s Monument topped with the “Earl Meisinger Family” plow, celebrating the city’s pioneer and rural beginnings. Since 2016, the Farmer’s Plaza by the fishing pier also has included a tribute to Cliff Preston for his devotion to the Riverwalk Commission. Across the quarry is the Jaycees Marina and Gregory Gazebo. In the distance, Moser Tower with the 72-bell carillon stands at the base of Rotary Hill.

The Farmer’s Plaza welcomes folks to the Naperville Riverwalk at Eagle Street. Plan to spend a little time here, learning a little rural history while enjoying the view of the quarry.

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, set to begin at 2PM, Mon., Sept. 6, aims to be a simple tribute to the “can-do” spirit that created the Riverwalk for the City’s sesquicentennial in 1981, a beautiful linear park in the heart of downtown, enjoyed for all seasons.

This post is the third of four posts.

Scroll down to find Riverwalk Reflections 21 – 30, Aug. 18 through Aug. 27

Riverwalk Reflection #21 / This memory dates back to the day before school started in 2018 and the 3rd annual Riverwalk Duck Race, presented by Busey Bank. (This year’s duck race hosted by the Riverwalk Foundation was on hiatus. It’s a good thing because the DuPage River is very, very low and possibly not navigable by 2,000 plastic ducks.) Still, “Decorated Jumbo Ducks” are set to remind students when it’s time for school to begin again.

Riverwalk Reflection #22 / The city’s natural treasure as it’s known today didn’t just happen! No matter what the season, visitors are attracted to the Riverwalk and its low-flow walkways along the DuPage River for some type of recreation. Just don’t feed the wildlife. Let ducks, geese and all the waterfowl play naturally in the wild. Watch them! Keep them safe and free from human snacks. Let wildlife be wild. Go fish with the great blue heron!

Whether poised wading and fishing along a bend in the DuPage River or cruising overhead at the Riverwalk Quarry with slow, deep wingbeats, the Great Blue Heron is a graceful sight just steps from shopping and dining in downtown Naperville.

Riverwalk Reflection #23 / How many times have you seen someone feeding ducks and geese while standing in front of a info sign with a reminder that feeding wildlife can be harmful to animals?

Feeding waterfowl bread crumbs is especially deleterious. Thanks for being informed.

Riverwalk Reflection #24 / Let ducks, geese and all the waterfowl play naturally in the wild. Watch them! Keep them safe and free from human snacks. Let wildlife be wild.

Feeding waterfowl bread crumbs is especially deleterious, especially harmful to ducks. Think about it. How would you like someone to toss you a loaf of white bread crumbs?

Riverwalk Reflection #25 / Go fish! This angler told us he was having success with mini-marshmallows as bait!

Are marshmallows as good for fishing as corn or earthworms? While you can catch trout, carp, bluegill and even small channel catfish with the confection, experienced anglers say “marshmallows are a mediocre bait compared to other bait options.” Still, fish can be caught with marshmallows. We observed it. How sweet it is to learn something new!

Riverwalk Reflection #26 / Riverwalk regulars reacted today to the spruce up of commemorative plaques with donor recognition that date back to 1981. The enhancements with care were planned to help showcase the Riverwalk for the 40th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at 2PM on Labor Day, Sept. 6.

The Harold and Eva White Plaza along the Riverwalk is just steps from shopping, banking and dining, Nichols Library, North Central College and Naper Settlement, all in the heart of Naperville. On Aug. 23, 2021, the plaque dated 1981 at the Main Street entrance near Jackson Avenue received a spiffy bright new look, thanks to funding from the Naperville Riverwalk Foundation.

Jerry Widauf remembers the pre-Riverwalk days when hundreds of dedicated volunteers and their children showed up along the DuPage River to help prepare “the dump” for the future linear park with the winding serpentine brick path. The Riiverwalk regular also recalls meeting businessman Jim Moser and Mayor Chet Rybicki (known as “Riverwalk Visionaries” in the Century Walk sculpture with its refurbished plaque) during the work sessions more than 40 years ago.

The covered bridge at Webster Street was sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. Harold E. Moser and Mr. & Mrs. Jim L. Moser. By the time the Naperville Riverwalk Foundation enhancement project is completed this week, more than 30 plaques as well as many “bench markers” will have received special care to help highlight the story of the City’s natural treasure that began with the sesquicentennial in 1981.

Riverwalk Reflection #27 / The view from the Farmer’s Plaza at Eagle Street and what many local residents call “the fishing pier” just became a little more enlightening as the story of the first 40 years of the Riverwalk continues. Commemorative bronze plaques that have been in place for more than 30 years help share this city’s history as visitors head toward Rotary Hill.

The Farmer’s Plaza always offers a place to pause and reflect along the Riverwalk.

The next time you begin a tour of the Riverwalk at Eagle Street, note all the names on the Farmer’s Monument, just south of the plaque that marks the Farmer’s Plaza. Enjoy a little history with names that also mark many streets where farms used to be throughout Naperville.

Until late August, we’d never noticed the bronze plaque located at the popular fishing pier overlooking the Riverwalk Quarry. With a little TLC, the polished letters on the plaque now “pop,” displaying its official name, “Sesquicentennial Commission Overlook,” as it’s located just below the Farmer’s Plaza.

Riverwalk Reflection #28 / PN cameras have been capturing a blast FOR the past, accomplished by John Pennick, the “surgeon of bronze,” who has been bringing dozens of plaques along the Riverwalk back to storytelling.

Forty days of Riverwalk facts were shared in advance of Labor Day 2021 when the Riverwalk marks its 40th year birthday. A large rock west of Eagle Street commemorates the Centennial Park Dedication on June 6, 1931, predating where the Riverwalk began winding around the Paddleboat Quarry in the mid-1980s.

While Pam Weber was taking a photo of the 1931 commemorative rock, the Naperville resident said she’s been walking past the rock nestled in the bushes along the Riverwalk for more than 30 years & never could read what it says.

And thanks for the shrubbery trim to the Naperville Park District!

A large number of plaques on rocks nestled in the landscape help tell the history of what’s been celebrated or remembered along the DuPage River.

In August, John Pennick, known as the “Surgeon of Bronze,” used his fine craftsmanship to restore dozens of bronze plaques along the first three phases of the Riverwalk. This first phase of the plaque restoration project was funded by the Riverwalk Foundation with private donations.

A large rock west of Eagle Street where the Riverwalk winds around the Paddleboat Quarry commemorates the Centennial Park Dedication on June 6, 1931. That was more than 150 years ago! Be sure to take a look at the magic accomplished by the “Surgeon of Bronze” who spiffied up dozens of plaques this week.

Riverwalk Foundation President John Cuff is pleased to show off the “amazing” restoration success accomplished by John Pennick and Carmen Cirigliano, the craftsmen from Matthews International.

Funded by the Riverwalk Foundation, bronze plaques along the Riverwalk are being restored to “pop” to their original splendor to help tell the story of the city’s “crown jewel.”

With those Riverwalk memories, the story of how a limestone quarry became Centennial Beach is included with the City’s rich “Naper” settlement history along the DuPage River. dating back to 1831. 

Before internet slang, Riverwalk Trolls aimed to educate

Riverwalk Reflection #29 / Back in the early 2000s, the Riverwalk Foundation and the Naperville Park District hosted “Spring Spruce Up,” a time when volunteers spent a Saturday morning providing a little care to the winding brick path in preparation for its busy seasons. Back then, costumed characters, aka “Riverwalk Trolls,” told stories of living under the bridges that crossed the DuPage River. After the trolls’ popularity grew, photographer Jo Lundeen created costumes, complete with pouches to hold give-away novelties. Trip. Trap. Trip Trap.

Photo by Jo Lundeen

During events such as the Riverwalk Fine Art Fair in September, “Riverwalk Trolls” promoted the Riverwalk Foundation with stories about living under the bridges that crossed the DuPage River. They also welcomed families to the Riverwalk with tiny troll novelties as souvenirs for kids. One time back in 2009, Riverwalk Troll Frank Sweeney even signed autographs while the DuPage Symphony Orchestra set up to perform in the Riverwalk Amphitheater!

Winter, spring, summer and fall, folks used to see one of the three Riverwalk Trolls just hanging out, always having fun, near one of the bridges in downtown Naperville. Trolls always walked. The Riverwalk is for walking.

Follow the rules of the Riverwalk

More than ever, enjoy walking in the great outdoors all along the Riverwalk from the Hillside Road Bridge to the Washington Street Bridge at Fredenhagen Park to Jefferson Avenue Bridge. Be safe with smiles and well wishes.

Sometimes photographers spotted Riverwalk Trolls under the bridge and atop the bridge at the same time. From one wedding party to the next fundraising event, nobody took the Riverwalk Troll too seriously! Then the Riverwalk Trolls magically disappeared.

Thanks for a decade of wonderful memories to the Riverwalk Trolls! Trip. Trap. Trip. Trap.

Every day kindness and respect are present with honor and gratitude at the Exchange Club Veterans Plaza along the Riverwalk in the heart of downtown. https://www.positivelynaperville.com/…/pause-to…/122698

Riverwalk Reflection #30 / Riverwalk architect Chuck George recalls when “Ned Becker made available remains of the old steel supports from the Burlington passenger weather platforms that were replaced and rusting away in the city’s boneyard. Those sturdy steel supports became the columns for rain shelters and benches along phases 2 and 3 of Riverwalk.” Today they provide peaceful overlooks at the Riverwalk Quarry.

This shelter/overlook is located along Eagle Street, a peaceful place to watch folks enjoy peddling paddleboats and kayaking in the quarry. Look through the shelter to see another one across the way. Innovative reuse of Burlington passenger weather platforms, don’t you think?

Nestled in the landscape near the “Physicians & Dentists Shelter,” a bronze plaque recognizes the contribution to the Riverwalk by those who practice the healing arts. On Aug. 23, the “Surgeon of Bronze” restored the plaque to highlight another story of generosity along the brick path.

Gifts representing 40 years of can-do spirit were uncovered during the search that found more than 30 plaques from Main Street to Rotary Hill. 

Click here to return to the first 10 Riverwalk Reflections.

Click here to return to the second set of Riverwalk Reflections, 11 through 20.

Click here to advance to 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.

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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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