There is something for everyone at the Waukegan Park District.
Programs and events
The Waukegan Park District offers year-round, programs and special events that are family focused and entertain the entire community. The annual lineup begins with the New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge at the Lakefront. The event, sponsored by the park district, City of Waukegan and Chamber of Commerce, attracts close to 2,000 people; nearly 400 of them jump into the icy waters of Lake Michigan to support special recreation athletes.
Eggstravaganza Trail, a free community event, held the Saturday before Easter, showcases the Easter Bunny and family, all interacting with children and handing out eggs filled with goodies. Two events occur on the first day of June: the Fishing Derby at Bevier Park and the free Ray Bradbury Dandelion Wine Festival at Bowen Park with art, vendors and performances throughout the day.
The American Independence Parade, held the Sunday before July 4, is the largest annual special event of the year with almost 100 parade entries. The parade travels from Franklin Avenue to Bowen Park on Sheridan Road. Touch a Truck and National Night Out on the first Friday in August, held at the lakefront in partnership with the city, gives children an opportunity to meet fire and police personnel and experience many big vehicles and trucks.
Two fall events at Bowen Park are Day of the Dead, a cultural celebration of family and ancestors, and Halloweenfest, which attracts entire families who are in costume. They enjoy free games, crafts, themed entertainment and rides.
The Waukegan Symphony Orchestra and Concert Chorus present several concerts throughout the year culminating with the Do It Yourself Messiah and Carol Sing Along held the third Saturday in December at the First United Methodist Church in Waukegan. In addition, the Bowen Park Theatre will begin to offer performances again in 2019.
Golf and more
Bonnie Brook Golf Course is an 18-hole, impeccably manicured, championship golf course and a popular place for corporate golf outings. The clubhouse hosts Tuesday Tacos and Tunes, Wednesday night dinners, a Friday Night Fish Fry and last Sunday of the month brunches for the public. Reservations are suggested for all; plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Easter and Mother’s Day at Bonnie Brook. Call to make plans for your next special occasion, corporate meeting or holiday party in the updated dining room. You can’t beat the view or staff attention to detail and assistance in planning your event.
The Field House Sports, Fitness and Aquatics Center is a hub of activity for the community. The two-level fitness center overlooks beautiful Hinkston Park and boasts a large selection of strengthening, weight lifting and cardio equipment along with a suspended one-seventh mile walking/running track. The six-court gymnasium hosts volleyball and basketball play and leagues. The aquatics center features three pools, an eight-lane, 25-yard competition ready lap pool, a warm water hydrotherapy pool with resistance current and children’s pool and splash area. The competition pool is home to the Waukegan Dolphins Swim Team. During the 2017-18 academic year, all second-grade students in Waukegan were offered a free field trip to the field house sponsored by the Waukegan Parks Foundation in partnership with the School District.
Several fitness events are held during the year. A spring tradition is the Go Waukegan walk that highlights how the simple act of walking 30 minutes each day can reduce the incidence of lifestyle related diseases, such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Others include a mini- triathlon in the spring and in the fall, the George Bridges 5K Run/Walk and Turkey Trot.
Belvidere Park received a new name, Corrine J. Rose Park, and will undergo renovation that will be completed in 2019. Both the pool and playground will be replaced and new restrooms, picnic shelters and concession stand added.
The Washington Park historic bandshell is home to a June music series and Veterans Plaza hosts Memorial and Veterans Day ceremonies. The oldest park in Waukegan, Roosevelt Park is a conservation success with its walkway through restored wetlands, permeable paver parking lot, and natural vegetation. It is designed to help clean Waukegan River water headed to Lake Michigan.
About the park district
Waukegan Park District is nationally recognized with top honors from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), the National Gold Medal award and accreditation by the NRPA Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies.