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Sycamore Park District gears up to celebrate 100 years

SYCAMORE – Sycamore Park District is marking its 100th anniversary in 2023 and district officials have said there will be events highlighting the milestone throughout the year.

Theresa Tevsh, superintendent of recreational services at the Sycamore Park District, said the celebratory events have been in the works since December 2021.

“We started putting into place, gathering history people, events that have been a part of the park district over the last hundred years,” Tevsh said.

In order to be able to highlight the park district’s history, the Sycamore Park District tapped the DeKalb County History Center for help.

Michelle Donahoe, history center executive director, said a century ago there was a general movement throughout the state of Illinois to establish park districts. Donahoe said there were several community leaders who challenged Sycamore to either go forward or go backward with the trends of the time.

“Once the decision was made to have a park district here, it was full steam ahead,” Donahoe said. “The community leaders were involved, local businesses were involved, the chamber was very involved … it was all hands on deck to make this successful.”

The DeKalb County History Center wasn’t the only local entity brought in for the special occasion. OC Creative – a DeKalb-based marketing agency that provides digital branding and video services – was contracted by the Sycamore Park District to film district events throughout the year for a video-focused, social media campaign showcasing the district’s anniversary.

“We tried to find centurions, or those that are pretty close to it, that can speak to ‘Oh, we remember ice skating on the Kish,’ or ‘I remember the first baseball game,’” Tevsh said. “So it’s been a year of making this video that will come out in 2023 as part of our 100th anniversary celebration.”

People ice skate in the Sycamore Park District in an undated photo. (Photo provided by Joiner History Room and DeKalb County History Center).

People ice skate in the Sycamore Park District. (Photo provided by Joiner History Room and DeKalb County History Center). (Photo Courtesy DeKalb History Center Archives/)

On top of the video, Tevsh said the district’s annual fan favorites, like the Thursday night concert series, will be enhanced with centennial flair this year. Tevsh said people come out early to the concerts hosted at the Good Tymes Shelter, so the district is working on creating games to engage the crowd before the music commences.

“We’re still working on details with that. There’s always drinking involved because we have mainly adults out there but there probably will be an adult as well as a kids competition where we can use of all the really fun amenities out at the Good Tymes Shelter location,” Tevsh said.

The park district will also be holding events to celebrate the anniversary, including last weekend’s Fire and Ice Festival. That event featured sled dog races and a chili cook-off.

In February, there will be the annual Sweetheart Dance and in March a spring mailer from the district will have the year-long lineup of the 100th anniversary celebration events. Among the events with a to-be-determined date is a fireworks show.

“It’ll be, call it post Fourth of July. It’ll be sometime later in the summer,” Tevsh said.

Class A Professional Golf Association professional Kirk Lundbeck – also the district’s superintendent for golf operations – said it’s significant for him to work for the district during its centennial celebrations. Lundbeck also conducts the DeKalb Municipal Band’s annual fireworks show in DeKalb.

“It’s very meaningful for me to be here,” Lundbeck, 64, said. “I wasn’t born in Sycamore, but I moved here in sixth grade and this was home to me. I would come here all the time, I would come here everyday.”

Lundbeck said it was very easy for him to find something to do at the Sycamore Park District back in the early 1970s. The Sycamore High School Class of ‘76 graduate said the positive experience he had with the park district while growing up influenced his career decisions later in life, because he jumped on the opportunity when he heard that the course he grow up playing on in Sycamore was seeking a worker.

After spending more than 20 years running golf operations with the Sycamore Park District, Lundbeck said the district offers much more than just golf.

“I see so much that we offer now as a park district – not just a golf course, but as a park district – and I’m so happy to be a part of that,” Lundbeck said. “Because we cater to all ages, we cater to all abilities, we cater to all different sports, we cater to seniors, we do young children, we cover the gambit of recreational activities in this community, and I’m very lucky to be a part of that organization that gives so much back to the people who live here.”

Sycamore Golf Club in a photo provided courtesy of the DeKalb History Center Archives.  (Photo provided by Joiner History Room and DeKalb County History Center).

Sycamore Golf Club – undated. (Photo provided by Joiner History Room and DeKalb County History Center). (Photo Courtesy DeKalb History Center Archives/)

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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