Elk Grove Park District 50 Year Anniversary

Fri May 13, 2016

50 Years of Excellence, 1966 to 2016

Board of CommissionersIn 1961, the Elk Grove Village Board approved a two year trial period for a new Park and Recreation Board to provide and supervise public playgrounds, athletic fields, recreation centers, and activities. The success of the trial resulted in the establishment of the Elk Grove Playground and Recreation Board. In 1966 a referendum was passed and the Elk Grove Park District was officially formed that year on May 24th.

Baseball diamond Audubon Park 1980sThe growth of the Elk Grove Park District over these past 50 years has been extraordinary. The mission of the Elk Grove Park District is to provide safe and innovative parks and recreational opportunities. The District leadership and staff seriously adhere to the mission. Bringing the best in recreation to Elk Grove Village and the surrounding communities has been the primary purpose of the past 50 years and will continue to be so for the future. The Elk Grove Park District currently has 42 parks and 10 facilities. Within the parks there are 41 playgrounds, 18 tennis courts and 27 football and soccer fields. Major facilities include the Jack A. Claes Pavilion, Fox Run Golf Links, Rainbow Falls Waterpark, Pirates’ Cove Theme Park, the Al Hattendorf Center and the Elk Grove Historical Museum.

The most prominent of the facilities is the Jack A. Claes Pavilion which sits in the heart of Elk Grove Village. The Pavilion houses a fitness center, a three court gymnasium, dance studios, arts and crafts rooms, an indoor playground, a banquet hall and an aquatics center. Unique to the Pavilion, and just about anywhere else, is an indoor carousel. Many towns and suburbs have recreation centers, pools and golf courses; what makes the Elk Grove Park District unique is that they have been either the first or the only to have such facilities. When the Pavilion was built in 1994 there were no other park districts that had all these amenities housed under one roof.

Rainbow Falls Waterpark circa 1980sThe Elk Grove Park District not only builds, they maintain and improve. Pirates’ Cove Children’s Theme Park is 35 years old and is still a one of a kind destination for children under 10. Over the years, the Park District has also transformed Lions Park Pool into Rainbow Falls Waterpark, not once but twice! The first transformation was in the 1980’s when water slides were added and again in 2005 when the entire park was rebuilt into an award winning aquatic theme park. Most recently, Fox Run Golf Links was renovated to become a more playable course for golfers with varying skill levels. The renovation included improvements to the irrigation system, drainage and bunkers. The greens at Fox Run are vastly becoming known as one of the best in the area. The Pavilion Aquatics Center underwent a huge reconstruction in 2013, creating 3 new pools and upgrading the entire facility. The next project starting in July will be new concessions and storage buildings at the 23 acre Community Athletic Fields.

J.Claes looking at plans 1987In all of its 50 years the Elk Grove Park District has only had 4 Executive Directors. The first one was Jack A. Claes. Mr. Claes has been credited as the visionary, bringing to the Park District its many facilities including Pirates’ Cove and the Pavilion recreation center. The second Executive Director was Barbara Heller. Her specialty was centered on team work and processes that strengthened the core of the District as a business. Mike Brottman was the third Executive Director and he kept us on the map. He made sure that the best practices of a park district were shared and learned throughout the State of Illinois. Thomas A. Busby is the most recent Executive Director. Mr. Busby is a well-rounded professional in the field. His platform is to ensure fiscal responsibility and to maintain and promote the District as a vital part of the Village of Elk Grove.

2016 is a year of celebration for the 50th Anniversary. It was kicked off with the annual Family New Year’s Eve Party. There were commemorative calendars given out on New Year’s Eve and at the District’s facilities. Large historical panels were hung in each of the buildings with photos from the past 50 years. On May 24th the Elk Grove Park District will officially become 50 years old. The day’s celebration will include roll back pricing on facility admissions at the Pavilion Fitness Center, Carousel and Jumps n’ Jiggles and the Pavilion Aquatics Center. Fox Run Golf Links will offer 50% off green fees from 10am to 2pm. The Pavilion, Hattendorf and Fox Run will also have cake and sweet treats available for all the visitors that day.

Since the Village of Elk Grove is celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year, the Park District and Village are collaborating on a large free festival taking place on Sunday, July 17th. Play, Picnic and Party will take place from noon until 5pm. There will be 50 free activities inside and outside of the Pavilion. Some of the activities to be enjoyed will be a zipline, bounce house, bubble soccer, arts, crafts and sports along with dance, theater and musical performances. The Village will have a band, a picnic lunch and entertainment on the Village Green. The Elk Grove Village Library is joining the celebration with an ice cream social.

The Elk Grove Park District is celebrating the past 50 years and looking forward to the future. Their vision statement is “Go beyond the expected!” With leadership, partnership and the residents of Elk Grove Village the Elk Grove Park District will keep moving forward to provide the best in recreation.

Photos courtesy of the Elk Grove Historical Museum