Blast to the past

Park dist. bringing back rocket slide as part of $1.2M project at Memorial

By Laura Bollin

Memorial Park in Oak Lawn is going back in time. More specifically, it is going back to the 1960s, when it was known as Rocket Slide Park.

Oak Lawn Park District director Maddie Kelly said the park, 102nd Street and Major Avenue, will undergo a $1.2 million renovation this summer. Among the imrpovements will be a return of the beloved rocket ship slide, only bigger and better than before.

"I used to ride my bike from Beverly [in Chicago] up there when I was a kid, it was such a cool slide," Kelly said. "Now, we are replacing the whole playground, and it will all have a rocket ship theme. The rocket ship slide is going to be a huge slide that looks like a tall rocket ship, with all sorts of space toys on it. It's going to be really, really cool."

The park district received at $400,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to help cover the costs of the renovation. Other upgrades will include a splash pad, new playground, bathrooms, walking trails, tennis courts, areas for bean bags and horseshoes, and two full basketball courts.

"We're resurfacing everything so it'll be like playing on a brand new court," Kelly said.

The park district also plans to replace a dilapidated picnic shelter with one covered with a green roof. The shelter will be about the same size as the existing one, and will accommodate as many as 15 people.

Visitors will also see improvements to Memorial Pond. The park district will install a new pier, and add plants and a log fence and rock outcroppings for fishing.

"That park has been in disarray for a long time, and it is an eyesore and an embarrassment to us," Kelly said. "It is going to rejuvenate the whole neighborhood. It will be a place people want to move because it is such a beautiful park."

Kelly expects the renovations to be completed by the end of the summer.

Who is the Ultimate Spartan?

The Ultimate Spartan Contest, which will conclude with the selection of the top senior male student-athlete at Oak Lawn High School, will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21 in the Spartan Gymnasium, 95th Street and Southwest Highway. The competition is a fundraiser for the Oak Lawn High softball program, which wants to build a batting cage at the Spartan Athletic Complex.

The contestants will be Kyle Cheng (from left), Connor Niemiec, Bob Kametas, Sean Altenburg, Shawn Cannon, Cody McElheny and Saul Huerta, who will compete in formal wear, beachwear, talent, fundraising and interview. One of the categories for judging will be audience approval as well, where the loudest screams and cheers will give the contestants more points.

Altenburg was the school's Homecoming king and plays football and basketball. Cannon plays hoops and competes on the track team. Cheng is a tennis player and participates in several clubs and organizations. Huerta plays soccer, Kametas plays basketball and baseball, McElheny runs cross country and track, and Niemiec wrestles and plays football and baseball.

Tickets will go on sale for $5 in advance, and will be $7 at the door. Softball players, contestants, the coaching staff, and the Athletic Office will be selling tickets. Find updates on Twitter @OakLawnSoftball.

Park Clips

Evergreen Park

Step & Strength Training is from 9 to 10 a.m. Monday and Wednesday, 7 to 8 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday, and 6:45 to 7:45 p.m. at the Community Center, 3450 W. 97th St.

Hickory Hills

A preschool open house will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20 at the Cynthia Neal Recreation Center, 8047 W. 91st Place. Event is for parents who want to enroll children in a program for the first time in the 2013-14 school year. An informational pamphlet on preschool programs will be available, or call 598-1233 to have one mailed.

Palos Hills

The Resource & Recreation Department will offer programs at the Activity Center, 8455 W. 103rd St.

Parent and Tot classes for children 2 to 3 years old and a parent are from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Cost is $30 for Palos Hills residents, $35 for non-residents.

Huggy Bear Twos is Thursday, Feb. 28 to April 4.

Cooking/Craft classes for children 7 to 10 years old are Tuesdays, 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. Cost is $12 per student.

Green & Lucky St. Patrick's Day will be March 5, Hopping Into Spring will be March 26.

Disney Dance Class for children 6 to 10 years old will be Saturdays from 1 to 2 p.m. Cost is $25 per session.

Oak Lawn

The park district offers duplicate bridge every Monday at 11:30 a.m. at Oak View Center, 4625 W. 110th St. Cost is $7 per person and includes a light lunch. All ages are welcome. For more information call 857-2200.


Registration is underway for before- and after-school FLASH (Fun & Learning After School Hours). The park district has partnered with Ridgeland School District 122 and Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 and is in all of those districts' elementary schools - Columbus Manor, Harnew, Kolb and Lieb in District 122, and Covington, Hannum, Hometown, Kolmar and Sward in District 123. For more information call the FLASH director or the FLASH assistant director at 857-2420.


The Worth Park District Historical Museum is offering a bus-and-walking tour of Historic Pullman Town from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, March. Fee is $33 and includes a light lunch. Registration deadline is Feb. 20.


An antique appraisal with professional appraiser Rex Newell of Rex's Antiques will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 20 at the Terrace Centre, 11500 Beloit Ave. Appraisals are available for the first 40 patrons for $5 an item. Only one "hand-held" item permitted. Call 448-7080 to register. Deadline is March 6.


Little Club offers benefits such as free indoor playground usage. Fee is $10 resident, $15 non-resident. For more information call the park district.


Jazzercise for persons age 16 years and older will be from 9:20 to 10:20 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 9:15 to 10:15 a.m. Saturday; and 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday at the Terrace Centre, 11500 Beloit Ave. Fee is $37 monthly for an Easy Fit Ticket and a registration fee of $25. For more information call 448-7080 or visit


The Terrace Centre, 11500 Beloit Ave., has an indoor playground featuring slides, a climbing wall, tree house and more for children who can walk through 4 years old. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Fee is $1 for residents, $2 for non-residents. For more information call 448-7080 or visit


The Worth Park District Historical Society meets at 7 p.m. every fourth Wednesday of the month at the Worth Historical Museum, in the Terrace Centre at 11500 Beloit Ave. Meetings are open to the public. Membership is free but is not required to attend.

Volunteers are welcome to come to the museum from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays to assist with projects. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Curator hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday. For group visits call 448-7080, Ext. 107.


Last week's "Whatizit?" was water and ice, as many of you knew. Congrats to Bella Fruendt, Carol DenBesten, Dana Oswald, Kristen Bute, Dan and Kathy Higgins, Alfredo Hardin, Russell Martin, Theresa and George Rebersky, Eddy and Jackie Wilch, Carol Maroney, Mike Small, Jan Merchantz, E.J. Oakeuke, RobertSolner, Jane Foley, Carol and Jerry Janicki, Frank and Donna Hirsch, Patty Vandenberg, James Wucka, and Dan and Laura Heneghan.

This week's clue is: The Lizard King. Send responses to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. under the subject Whatizit, and include your first and last names and where you live.

Park Lawn raffle will award trip to Vegas

Just days remain in Park Lawn's contest to win a trip for four to Las Vegas and a stay at the Venetian Hotel.

Tickets are available for $100 each by calling 425-6867 or at Park Lawn, 10833 S. LaPorte Ave. in Oak Lawn. The winner will receive an Italian-themed escape for four days and three nights that includes two suites at the Venetian Hotel, outdoor gondola ride, a visit to Madame Tussauds Interactive Wax Attraction, dinner at a Venetian restaurant, a Vegas show of their choice, and four round-trip tickets on Southwest airlines including hotel-airport transfers. The trip is transferrable to another destination up to a value of $4,500.

The drawing will be held Saturday, Feb. 16 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Alsip during Park Lawn's "A Rhapsody in Blue" live and silent auction. Tickets to the auction are sold separately. Winner need not be present to win.

Park Lawn provides residential and vocational support at 12 facilities throughout the south and southwest suburbs for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The raffle proceeds will benefit the Park Lawn programs and services.