As the COVID-19 situation in Kane County continues to improve, some familiar sights and sounds are set to return to St. Charles this summer.
That includes the return of concerts to Lincoln Park as well as the Fourth of July celebration at Pottawatomie Park in St. Charles. The St. Charles Park District was planning to bring back both activities prior to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s announcement on Thursday that the state on May 14 is set to move into the Bridge Phase, which is the final step before a full reopening of the state with no capacity limits.
“Following a 28-day period of continued stability or decline in key COVID-19 metrics, the state would then move into Phase 5, with all capacity limits lifted,” state officials said.
Pritzker said the state could reopen fully on June 11 if the metrics keep moving in the right direction. He had previously estimated the state wouldn’t move into Phase 5 until July.
St. Charles Park District Superintendent of Recreation Mike Kies was happy to hear the news.
“We have been planning for the bridge to phase 5 for sure,” Kies said. “We have been planning for operations with certain mitigations, guidelines and restrictions. We knew we’d be moving into the Bridge Phase soon, but we did not know about the idea of getting actually to phase 5 so soon.”
In the Bridge Phase, capacity for festivals and general admission outdoor spectator events will increase to 30 people per 1,000 square feet, up from 15 people per 1,000 square feet in Phase 4. Kies said there is enough space in Lincoln Park for social distancing.
During the concerts, Kies said the Park District will encourage the recommended health and safety protocols, including social distancing and hand washing. Sanitation stations will also be set up.
“We’ll be really diligent on that end,” he said.
The summer concert series at Lincoln Park is set to kick off at 7 p.m. May 27 with the annual Tyler Brett Caruso Memorial Concert. The free concert celebrates the life of Tyler Caruso, who died unexpectedly of cardiac arrest at age 17 on July 14, 2002. He was a St. Charles East High School student leader, musician, athlete and community activist.
He had the idea to bring the community together for an evening of music and friendship soon after the high school split into St. Charles East and St. Charles North high schools. Last year, the pandemic forced the Park District to change the format and location of the concerts.
The drive in concert series at the James O. Breen Community Park proved to be extremely popular, Kies said. A $5 reservation gave people two parking spaces – one to park in and the other to spread out and enjoy the concert.
“I think most of them sold out,” he said. “We allowed for 150 parking spaces and then we had a space between each car. And it was wildly popular.”
The Park District’s Fourth of July show, which was cancelled last year because of the pandemic, is also set to take place this year. The show is presented by the St. Charles Park District in cooperation with the city of St. Charles and local sponsors.
“Based on the amount of viewing space in Pottawatomie, we feel that we can accommodate the crowd that we’re anticipating,” he said. “We are going to be this year promoting some other areas that they can watch the fireworks from and we’re confirming some of those now as we speak. We’re going to let people know that you don’t have to come down to the park to see the fireworks and that there’s other places to watch the show. In the park, we’ll be encouraging physically distancing. We’re really encouraging people to watch from all areas of St. Charles, not just the park here.”
The fireworks show is free. The Park District’s Otter Cove Aquatic Park and Swanson Pool will also be open this summer.
Both facilities are set to open May 29. More information about the Park District’s summer schedule is available at the Park District’s website, stcparks.org.