Located in downtown Joliet, the scenic 10-acre park is nestled between the Des Plaines River and limestone bluffs. Running through the park is historic Bluff Street, one of Joliet’s first streets in 1832. In addition to a place of natural beauty and landmarks, the park features year-round entertainment for the community with its bandshell and indoor theater. A vision begun in the early 1970s is still going strong today, over 40 years later.
As 1976 approached, Joliet and Will County decided to leave a lasting memorial in honor of our great nation’s 200th birthday. They formed the all-volunteer, nonprofit Will-Joliet Bicentennial Park Corporation, headed by Mrs. William (“Billie”) C. Limacher. The WJBP, Inc. obtained the land, planned the cultural park, raised the funds and built the theater/ bandshell complex, still in operation today. They gave the park and building to the City of Joliet. In 2000, additions were added to the building by the nonprofit and the city renamed the park after the longtime volunteer, Billie Limacher. The WJBP, Inc. continues to raise funds for the park.
An oasis near downtown Joliet, brick pathways meander past flowerbeds surrounding historic markers, murals and statues. A self-guided tour is available anytime using the online guide (www.bicentennialpark.org/history/walk). High overviews offer an expansive view of downtown, active lift bridges and pleasure boats, which are welcome to dock on the south end.
Through the years, many events and festivals have entertained thousands of residents and visitors through the years: Battle of the Bands, Car Show, Emerging Playwrights Festival, Family Fiesta, Improv Uncorked, Independence Celebration, Leprechaun Zero K Run, Madrigal Dinner, Night At the Movies, plays and musicals, Polka Fest, Pumpkin Fest, Redneck Ravinia, Spirit of All Hallows Eve, Summertime On Stage Drama Camp and Waterway Daze. Fireworks over the water are a big draw during the Independence Celebration. Two original events are now over 40 years running: 41st Festival of the Gnomes in December and the free 43rd Concerts On The Hill every summer Thursday evening on the bandshell. A place for children to create and explore the arts, the drama camp grows each year. In 2017, over 80 children participated, many for the first time.
Providing opportunities for creativity for all ages, relaxation in a beautiful setting and preserving Joliet history, the park looks forward to sharing its treasures with the community for decades to come.
Visit www.bicentennialpark.org for more information.
Joliet City Center Partnership
The Joliet City Center Partnership, LLC was developed in the late 1980s in an effort to revitalize the downtown area and maintain existing structures that hold architectural and historical significance. Today, the partnership focuses on Downtown Joliet’s vast potential for economic and residential development.
The city center partnership strives to promote existing businesses while bringing the community together through family-friendly events such as the Light Up the Holidays Parade, Race Fan Rally, Kidzfest, Nitro Nite, Route 66 Street Markets, Paws on 66 Pet Rescue Day, Blues and Brews on 66 and Salute to the Blue.
Numerous dining and entertainment options are scattered throughout the downtown ensuring that the area remains a place that residents and tourists alike can come to enjoy themselves and create everlasting memories with friends, family and business partners.