Learn about the history of Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park
In the early 1970’s, both Joliet and Will County appointed Bicentennial Committees to plan how they were going to celebrate our great nation’s 200th birthday in 1976. The combined committees formed a not for profit corporation, the “Will-Joliet Bicentennial Park, Inc.” with president, Mrs. William C. Limacher as president (seated center in picture below).
They obtained a piece of the land that in 1832 had been Joliet’s first street. They then planned the cultural park, raised the money and built the theatre/ bandshell complex that is in operation today.
In the 1980’s, the Corporation obtained two additional pieces of property making Bicentennial Park approximately a 10-acre Park along the west side of the waterway in Joliet City Center. They then gave the entire Park and its facilities to the city of Joliet. This was done without any expense to the Joliet or Will County tax payer. At that time a ten year contract was made between them that the corporation would continue to help the city operate the Park by raising funds to present good affordable entertainment. The success of Bicentennial Park is a shining example of what good things can be accomplished when an all volunteer group works well with a governmental group.
In 1993 the City embarked on extensive renovations, which included a beautiful river walk promenade.
Also, the south grounds have seen the addition of the Veteran’s Memorial and the mosaic depicting prominent landmarks. In 1996 a series of historic murals were painted. An historic walk along old Bluff Street is marked with large boulders that have bronze plaques on them depicting the sites of early buildings and early events in Joliet’s history.
One of the most important happenings at the Park is our free “Concert on the Hill” series. Each Thursday night at 6:30 pm during June, July and August people bring blankets and chairs to enjoy music under the stars. Several of the main festivals held over the years, have been the Car Show, Waterway Daze and its lighted boat parade and Pumpkin Fest. For over thirty years at Christmas time, we present the “Festival of the Gnomes,” which is a live stage show for the enjoyment of children.
Originally the Park was known as the Will-Joliet Bicentennial Park, but in May of 2000 the Mayor and City Council unanimously voted to change the name to the Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park “because of her outstanding contributions to the Park and to her community.”
The Park grounds, theatre and meeting rooms are available for rent. For any additional information:
Write: Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park
201 West Jefferson at Bluff Street
Joliet, IL 60432