This year the Village of Woodridge is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its Aug. 24, 1959, founding. Woodridge derives its name from the heavy stand of timber which overlooks the East Branch of the DuPage River. Al Kaufman developed the first homes south of 75th Street and the village grew as annexations in 1963 and 1970 drew the Winston Muss Corporation to develop four Winston Hills Units.
Anniversary celebration banners already adorn village light posts; clubs and organizations are planning special anniversary tributes; and the 33,321-resident village plans to hold a three-day anniversary celebration in late September.
To celebrate this exciting milestone year, Woodridge is planning a fun-filled celebration weekend, partnering with the Woodridge Park District as they celebrate their 50th anniversary. An Oktoberfest celebration will be held on Friday, Sept. 27 and Saturday, Sept. 28 in the Cypress Cove parking lot, 8301 S. Janes Ave. Saturday will also feature the Woodridge Anniversary Parade, starting at 9 a.m. Sunday will feature the Woodridge Park District’s annual Indian Summer Fest with food, games, rides and scarecrow-making from noon to 5 p.m., according to Trevor Bosack, Assistant to the Woodridge Village Administrator.
Community organizations have also been helping to celebrate this milestone by adding an anniversary component to an existing event or initiative. For example, the Woodridge Lions Club held an Easter Egg Hunt, a school parent-teacher organization developed a commemorative anniversary water bottle for its students and the Special Events Committee held their 50th Annual Fourth of July picnic at Castaldo Park. Food was available at “rolled back” prices in honor of the anniversary and a fireworks extravaganza was held that evening. In addition, the Janes Avenue Neighborhood Outreach will sell lemonade along the parade route in September.
Chamber 630 and Seven Bridges initiated a Woodridge Restaurant Week during August. The kick-off event on Aug. 8, called Sample Seven Bridges, was a great success. Restaurant Week encouraged foodies to try the great cuisine of places they have never before visited.
In early May, Downers Grove formally re-dedicated its downtown square, formerly known as the Main Street Plaza, in honor of Linda Kunze, executive director of the Downtown Management Corporation since its founding approximately 20 years ago. She passed away suddenly last September, robbing Downers Grove of one of its most ardent supporters.
The area near the train station will now be known as Linda Kunze Plaza, said Mike Baker, deputy village manager.
“We felt that this was a good spot to remember Linda’s impact on the downtown,” he said. “It is a true central gathering space where the holiday tree lighting takes place and the Downtown Market is held.”
Approximately 150 residents gathered in May for the formal naming ceremony, led by Mayor Bob Barnett. Six people who were familiar with her many good works then made brief comments.
“The way that Linda interacted with people had so much warmth and compassion,” Baker said. “And she was so committed to the downtown, planning events and working to attract new businesses. The things she did and the way in which she did them has left a lasting legacy for Linda Kunze in Downers Grove.
“We were all so honored by the way in which the village recognized Linda’s hard work and dedication to the town,” said Mike Kunze, her husband. “This plaza will allow her name to be associated forever with Downers Grove.”
“The area they chose is a happy place where people often gather, so it seems like the perfect place for my mom to be remembered. We are so proud and really appreciate the way people are recognizing her achievements,” added Jennifer Schwendener, her daughter.
“Linda had a vision for what she would like to see in Downers Grove. She even regularly visited other towns to see what they were doing and incorporate their good ideas into her vision for Downers Grove,” Baker noted. “But she was very humble. Many of the things she did, we didn’t hear about until they were mentioned after her death.”
“She played a major role in making Downers Grove the wonderful place that it is,” Schwendener added. “I have many childhood friends who lived elsewhere for many years, but have moved back because they wanted to live here again.
“My mother went above and beyond to help everyone.”