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Friday, June 21, 2024

Riverwalk Reflections, 31-40, help tell a 40-year-old story


Above / Pete Dwyer, Naperville North ‘03, visited Naperville over Labor Day Weekend with his family, eager to show his wife and two children where he grew up. Of course, he took them to the Riverwalk to enjoy the Dandelion Fountain. (Photo by Pete Dwyer, courtesy of Barb Dwyer)

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 for 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 in the heart of downtown.

This post is the fourth of four posts.

Scroll down to find Riverwalk Reflections 31-40, Aug. 28 through Sept. 6.

Riverwalk Reflection #31 / PN cameras have been capturing a blast FOR the past by the “surgeon of bronze” who brought dozens of plaques along the Riverwalk back to storytelling. Forty days of Riverwalk facts are being shared in advance of Labor Day, a day when the Riverwalk will mark its 40th year birthday at 2PM. Note the shiny refurbished sign at the Civic Plaza.

The Civic Plaza with the Dandelion Fountain, designed by architect Charles Vincent (Chuck) George, is one of the most popular gathering places along the Riverwalk, spritzing and sparkling in the sunshine three seasons of the year.

Charles Vincent George Architects reposted Riverwalk Reflection #31, “CVG would like to share the latest of 40 Riverwalk Reflections in 40 days to commemorate the Riverwalk’s 40th anniversary. Designed 40 years ago by Chuck George, the founder of #CVGarchitects.”

Riverwalk Reflection #32 / PN cameras have been capturing a blast FOR the past by the “surgeon of bronze” who has been bringing dozens of commemorative plaques along the Riverwalk back to storytelling. Note the shiny new donor signs at the entrance to the Moser Covered Bridge at Webster Street. They date back to the City’s sesquicentennial in 1981. Cheers!

In 2017, thanks to funds raised by the Riverwalk Foundation’s Duck Race (on hiatus for 2020 and 2021) a new flag pole and American flag were placed near the Moser Covered Bridge at Webster Street by the Naperville Township Building.

The Riverwalk Foundation in partnership with Naperville Township also contributed funds for a safer pedestrian path at the edge of the parking lot. This location between Jackson Avenue and Water Street attracts visitors to cross the DuPage River in downtown Naperville where more than 300 shopping and dining experiences help create the vibrant heart of the community every day of the year. 

In 2017, the RW Commission Chairman Geoff Roehll presented a plan for a pedestrian path from the Moser Covered Bridge at Webster Street toward Water Street. To create a safer and handicapped accessible way to enter the Riverwalk, Naperville Township gave a portion of its parking lot to the project that was funded with private donations collected by the RW Foundation. The RW Foundation also funded the American flag and pole, now centered near the bridge.

Riverwalk Reflection #33 / Have you ever walked/noticed the stone labyrinth at the Riverwalk Amphitheater? Did you know the Riverwalk Amphitheater, originally built in 1981, became the designated site for a Millennium Labyrinth and the Celebration 2000 Millennium Wall more than 20 years ago? On behalf of the Celebration 2000 Committee, plans for a stone labyrinth were presented by Riverwalk project manager Pete Crawford to Riverwalk Commission Chairman Cliff Preston and the Commission in 1998. The rest is Riverwalk history!

Walk this way! The labyrinth is recognized as a universal symbol of unity, reflecting life’s journey. After walking the entire path of the labyrinth on the floor of the Riverwalk Amphitheater, you will have walked the length of a football field—that’s 360 feet.

During the summer of 1998, passers-by were in awe of watching labyrinth designer/craftsman Marty Kermeen meticulously cut two colors of stones to create a true work of art. (Our many old photos from before digital remind us we were in awe, too.)

To celebrate life, the labyrinth was dedicated on Sept. 3, 1998.

The Millennium Wall is a showcase of local subdivisions, individuals, families, schools, businesses and other supporters, all of whom came together for a citywide celebration to welcome the third millennium. The Celebration 2000 Millennium Wall was dedicated on Jan. 1, 2000, during several days of festivities throughout Naperville.

Riverwalk Reflection #37 / More than a few times, OMT (One More Time) has performed at Last Fling, sometimes on the Main Stage at Rotary Hill. The popular local band is set to play at noon, today, Sat., Sept. 4 at the Jackson Avenue Stage. Time will tell. Cheers!

Riverwalk Reflection #38 / Thanks to events such as Last Fling, the Naperville Jaycees have raised funds for a number of gifts to the Riverwalk, including the Jaycees Marina in the Paddleboat Quarry back in 1983. Rentals are available from noon to 6PM weekends during the fall season, weather permitting.

Riverwalk Reflection #39 / While the Riverwalk Foundation has been mostly in a quiet stage since the Fredenhagen Park Campaign, taking a quack in 2016 to host the Riverwalk Duck Race, presented by Busey Bank for four years running, was a fun way to raise awareness about the needs and care of the Riverwalk. Hint: Don’t feed the ducks. Race them.

Since 1997, the Riverwalk Foundation has been a nonprofit charitable all-volunteer organization currently led by John Cuff. On a mission to promote, educate visitors and enhance the Riverwalk, the Foundation serves as a conduit for private financial gifts that augment the annual commitments of the City of Naperville, Naperville Park District and Riverwalk Commission. The Duck Race also aims to educate visitors about the deleterious effects of feeding wildlife. Look for the Riverwalk Duck Race to return in 2022.

Currently, Moser Tower is undergoing rehabilitation work. It’s anticipated that the work will continue through the fall. The 72 carillon bells have been silenced until the rehabilitation is complete later this year.

In 2018, thanks to funds raised by the Riverwalk Foundation’s Duck Race (on hiatus for 2020 and 2021) and other private donations, a new flag pole and American flag were placed near the Moser Covered Bridge at Webster Street near the Naperville Township Building. 

Riverwalk Reflection #40 / Happy 40th birthday to the Naperville Riverwalk. The Labor Day date, Sept. 7, 1981, is “etched in stone,” so to speak, on the bronze plaque on a low granite base east of the Civic Plaza as well as in the memories of thousands of local residents who share pride and joy in the city’s natural treasure!

Enjoy all the daily and seasonal changes of the Riverwalk as the City’s “crown jewel” begins its 40th year on Labor Day 2021.

These memories have yet to include all the special fundraising events held at the Riverwalk Grand Pavilion or the fun kids have at the Jaycees Playground. Forty days didn’t provide enough time for it all!

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 return to the third set of Riverwalk Reflections, 21 through 30.

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.