By Devin Rose
Not all of the events are new, but this year, they'll be bigger and better.
That's because the Park District of Oak Park is celebrating its 100th anniversary and it will be marked by five major events throughout the year. The events are the result of at least a year of planning and will kick off Sunday with the Winterfest carnival.
Winterfest is a regular event at the Paul Hruby Ice Arena at Ridgeland Common, said parks spokeswoman Diane Stanke, who was also head of the 100th anniversary committee. But this year, the anniversary kickoff event, to be held Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., will be "a little more special," Stanke said.
Winterfest will have its usual open skate with music provided by Chicago Blackhawks organist Frank Pellico. New this year will be an appearance by award-winning snow sculptor Peter Hermann, Stanke said, as well as cupcakes celebrating the 100th anniversary and hot chocolate while it lasts. Attendees can enter a raffle to win Blackhawks tickets, be part of the puck shot contest or have their photo taken in a free booth. Admission is $1 per person.
The spring egg hunt is another regular event at Ridgeland Common, which will feature special anniversary prizes and cupcakes this year. Entertainment and a photo booth will also be part of the event.
"We're trying to plan events that everyone can enjoy," Stanke said.
For adults, a brand new gala will be held at Pleasant Home on April 13. For $25 per person or $40 per couple, attendees can enjoy wine, hors d'oeuvres and live music by the John Brumbach Jazz Trio.
The Picnic in the Park event is not new, but will be expanded this year, Stanke said. Two bands will be playing at Scoville Park on July 15 in addition to an obstacle course, a train and a giant slide. There will also be games, a root beer garden, a photo booth and anniversary cupcakes.
Shari Ann Wenzel, the park district's special events and arts supervisor, said she's trying to organize a geocaching game in the summer as well. Using a GPS or smart phones, participants would be given coordinates to locate tokens hidden in the village's parks or park district facilities. Anyone who finds all four could win a prize, which is yet to be determined, Wenzel said.
She said the game would provide something different for families that are interested in exploring the parks.
On Nov. 3, the second annual Fall Fest celebration will be held at Rehm Park. The event will have hay rides, a hay maze, a pumpkin patch and some exotic animals, Stanke said.
Though most of the events are free, staff are asking attendees to bring food pantry donations to each event. For more information, visit oakparkparks.com/100th.