Wilmette, News

Wilmette Park District to debut new ‘Star Spangled Splash’ event at Centennial Park as part of Independence Day festivities 

The biggest party of the summer in Wilmette will be getting some added sparks of fun this year. 

The Wilmette Park District is planning a new event titled “Star Spangled Splash” for this year’s Independence Day celebrations on July 3, executive director Steve Wilson announced at the Park Board’s Monday, June 12 meeting. 

Wilson told commissioners that the event will feature games, activities and entertainment and will be similar to early afternoon festivities that the park district used to host at Gillson Park prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The newly minted event is slated to start at 10 a.m. with public swim at the Centennial Family Aquatic Center, Wilson said. He added that park games will begin at 11:30 a.m. and will include traditional carnival games, mini golf, tug of war, potato sack races and more. There will also be puppies available for adoption during the event, Wilson noted. 

The fun at Centennial will come to an end at 1:15 p.m. with what Wilson described as the park district’s “first-ever confetti cannon firework show.”

“We encourage families to join us for some old fashion carnival fun and a swim at the pool before they head home, take a break, and come down and join us in Gillson Park for the rest of the festivities,” Wilson said in a memo to commissioners. 

Wilmette girls (left to right) Caty Dobmin, Maggie Weir and Morgan Coffey enjoy Independence Day celebrations in Wilmette in 2021.

The rest of Wilmette’s annual July 3 celebrations are also scheduled to return this year. Festivities will kick off at 8 a.m. with the yearly Yankee Doodle Dash. Participation in the annual race has “increased steadily” over the past few years, according to Wilson, who attributed the added interest to the park district’s decision to move to a 5K format from the previously long-standing four-mile distance. 

Thousands of locals will once again descend upon Gillson Park for Wilmette’s annual party featuring food vendors, live music and the signature firework show at 9:30 p.m. 

“We’re looking forward to a fun day,” Wilson said at the meeting. 

Lakeview Center renovations are ‘getting close’ to completion

Work on the park district’s plans to renovate the Lakeview Center is nearing the finish line, Wilson told commissioners. 

The center has yet to reopen, largely due to what Wilson described as a “few supply chain issues” related to work on the exterior but the interior space is “mostly done and down to punch-list items.” 

Park commissioners voted in July of 2022 to move forward with a $1.64 million project to renovate the space located inside Gillson Park, as previously reported by The Record. 

A rendering of approved renovations for the Lakeview Center in Wilmette’s Gillson Park.

The Lakeview Center was built in 1989 and has yet to see significant renovations, the district said during deliberations surrounding the center’s renovation. Per previous reporting from The Record, the improvement plan consisted of three stages — the lower level, the upper level and the exterior — to modernize and reconfigure the building’s spaces and aesthetics. 

Renovations included aesthetic updates as well as enhancements to the usable space within the facility, as also previously reported by The Record. The project did not increase the building’s footprint; however, it did increase interior usable space by 21 percent and exterior space, the space’s decking, by 40 percent, according to the original plans.

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martin carlino
Martin Carlino

Martin Carlino is a co-founder and the senior editor who assigns and edits The Record stories, while also bylining articles every week. Martin is an experienced and award-winning education reporter who was the editor of The Northbrook Tower.

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