2020 Archives

This is the yearly news archive section. Posts are displayed by year.

Winnetka Park District to acquire lakefront property

Posted December 14, 2020

Charitable transaction helps Park District preserve its beaches

After months of due diligence by the Winnetka Park District’s board of commissioners and staff, the Park District is acquiring the lakefront single-family home and lot that separates Elder Lane Beach and Centennial Beach, allowing the two parks and beaches to be combined into one.  The transaction is being accomplished through a property exchange agreement, which results in the Park District exchanging the southernmost end of Centennial Park/Beach for the lakefront property between Elder Lane Park/Beach and Centennial Park/Beach. The parcel of property the Park District is acquiring is the same width at Sheridan Road and the same width at the beachfront as the parcel of property the Park District is conveying.

“This exchange marks a significant milestone for our Village, aligning Winnetka’s lakefront property to create one of the largest public beaches on the North Shore,” said Mickey Archambault, Winnetka Park District Board of Commissioners President.

The property exchange allows for the combination of Elder Lane Beach and Centennial Beach to provide nearly 1,000 feet of continuous public beach.  It also joins the two parks to create nearly eight contiguous acres of parkland.

“One of the key steps in the Winnetka Waterfront 2030 plan is to acquire the residential property between Elder Lane Park and Centennial Park,” said Warren James, one of seven commissioners of the Winnetka Park District board, which voted unanimously in support of the property exchange. “Only with the acquisition of the property can we implement the Waterfront 2030 plan as it was envisioned and adopted by the Board back in 2015.”

Mr. James, who co-chaired the development of the Winnetka Waterfront 2030 plan, continued, “We are now positioned to construct shoreline breakwaters in a cost-effective, efficient manner to protect Elder Lane Beach, Centennial Beach, and the respective bluffs.  Shoreline protection planning is in the works. We are working to apply for permits in an effort to begin shoreline work next spring.”

The Winnetka Park District recently issued $9 million in bonds to pay for lakefront improvements, $4 million of which is earmarked for significant, critical improvements at Lloyd Beach.

“The remaining $5 million is available for essential shoreline protection measures at Centennial Beach and Elder Lane Beach, which are in dire condition,” said Archambault.

“The two beaches (Elder and Centennial) are approaching a critical condition, similar to Lloyd Beach, as recent lake conditions continue to inflict significant damage which will make future restoration far more expensive if not addressed now.  If we were to pause and not act, we very likely would incur more damage along this shoreline.  In these times, it’s incumbent upon the Park District board to be responsible financial stewards and, in so doing, maintain the value of Winnetka’s wonderful lakefront assets.”

Aside from standard real estate transaction costs, the Winnetka Park District will not incur any expense to exchange the properties, thanks to a private individual’s generosity.

“Merging these two parks by acquiring the private parcel between them has been a priority for many years,” said James.  “So, we’ve kept our eyes on the prize for quite some time.  The pandemic drastically affected the Park District’s revenues and we have been required to significantly tighten the Park District’s expenditures. The Park District has been, and continues to be, without the resources to conduct an outright purchase of the property. In light of its many competing priorities and extremely limited financial resources, the Park District could not have acquired the private parcel independent of the exchange.  When we were presented with an opportunity to accept a gift of substantially greater value in exchange for a parcel of park property, we realized it was a once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

“To have a long-term goal realized, given all its positives, truly is amazing and is of great, great benefit to the residents of Winnetka.”

Conceptual rendering from the Waterfront 2030 plan of Elder Lane Beach/Park and Centennial Beach/Park combined into one.

Find Buddy the Elf!

Posted December 02, 2020

Buddy the Elf will be hiding out at a different park each week starting the week of November 23. A new clue for Buddy’s location will be posted on this webpage and our Facebook page each weekday at 12pm. Every Sunday at 9pm, Buddy will pack up and find a new park to hide out at and a new set of clues for his location will be shared.

Bring your camera to snap photos of Buddy in his hiding spot to share with us on Facebook (be sure to tag @winnetkaparkdistrict). Photos can also be uploaded via this form. The first five people to share photos with us will receive a $10 gift card to a local Winnetka business!


  • The first five people to share a photo of Buddy in his hiding spot each week will receive a gift card. A photo of Buddy is required to receive the gift card – a guess alone does not count.
  • An individual or family may only win one gift card throughout the five weeks, but are encouraged to continue searching for Buddy every week!
  • Please follow social distancing guidelines and wear a face covering when near others outside of your household.
  • Do not touch or move Buddy the Elf.
  • Buddy will remain in his hiding spot from Monday at 12pm through the following Sunday at 9pm before moving to a new location.
    • Week #1: Monday, November 23 at 12pm through Sunday, November 29 at 9pm
    • Week #2: Monday, November 30 at 12pm through Sunday, December 6 at 9pm
    • Week #3: Monday, December 7 at 12pm through Sunday, December 13 at 9pm
    • Week #4: Monday, December 14 at 12pm through Sunday, December 20 at 9pm
    • Week #5: Monday, December 21 at 12pm through Sunday, December 27 at 9pm

Clues – Week #5

Monday, December 21

Tuesday, December 22

Wednesday, December 23

Thursday, December 24


We’re staying open! Here are the changes with Tier 3

Posted November 20, 2020

Restore Illinois Tier 3 mitigations go into effect Friday, November 20. Per the guidance, the Illinois Department of Health will monitor each region in two-week increments to determine if mitigations can be relaxed, tightened, or remain the same. 

After carefully reviewing the guidelines and weighing our own health and safety standards, we have determined our facilities will remain open through the initial two weeks of Tier 3 mitigations. Offerings will be limited. We’ll continue to reassess program and service offerings as new guidance is released. We’ll communicate changes via email and on our COVID-19 webpage. Scroll to learn more!

Note: Face coverings are required at all times while participating in activities at the Park District. This includes both indoor and outdoor activities.


Fall and Winter Programs

Fall Programs 

Fall programs (excluding platform tennis) have been paused and will resume once Tier 3 mitigations are lifted. Refunds in the form of an account credit can be given for any canceled classes. 

Winter Programs

All winter programs (those that start after November 29) are scheduled to move forward. We have many virtual and outdoor options available and encourage you to register! Refunds will be offered for any cancellations due to COVID-19. Learn more about our COVID refund policy. 

View our winter brochure.


Winnetka Golf Club



  • Group lessons: starting November 20, winter session I is paused and will resume once Tier 3 mitigations are lifted. Participants will receive a refund in the form of an account credit for any missed classes. 

A.C. Nielsen Tennis Center



  • Group lessons: fall classes scheduled for November 20-24 have been canceled. Participants will receive a refund in the form of an account credit for the canceled classes. The winter session originally scheduled to begin November 30 will be delayed until Tier 3 mitigations are lifted. The session will be extended into April to make up for any missed classes, if necessary. For questions, call (847) 501-2065 ext 0.

Winnetka Ice Arena



  • Group lessons: starting November 20, fall II session is paused and will resume once Tier 3 mitigations are lifted. For questions, call (847) 501-2060.
  • Public skate
  • Freestyle sessions
  • Hourly ice rentals

Platform Tennis


  • Courts: pre-paid reservations required
  • Group lessons: fall lessons will resume as originally scheduled.

Veterans Day Observance

Posted November 11, 2020

Please join us in watching this short video tribute to honor those who have served our country.

Website Focus Group Participants Needed

Posted September 10, 2020

We are redesigning our website and want to hear from you on what you like and don’t like about our current website. Your input will help us create a new website that is more user-friendly, easier to navigate, and visually appealing. 

Focus Groups

  • Date: Tuesday, October 13
  • Times: 9-10:30am, 11am-12:30pm, or 6-7:30pm
  • Location: Winnetka Golf Club, outdoor patio/screened-in porch

Participant Commitment

  • Fill out a short questionnaire before your focus group (five minutes or less)
  • Actively participate in focus group (90 minutes)

Social Distancing

Focus groups will be outdoors or in a screened-in area (depending on weather). Each group will include eight to ten participants, one moderator, and two park district staff. Participants will be spaced at least six feet apart. Sanitizing stations will be available, and all tables and chairs disinfected between groups. 

Sign Up

If you are interested, please fill out this form. We will finalize focus groups and notify participants by September 30. Thank you in advance for your time and input! 

If you have questions or need additional information, please reach out to Kelsey Raftery at kraftery@nullwinpark.org or (847) 501-2044.

Green Bay Trail Photo Contest

Posted September 01, 2020

Co-Sponsored by Friends of the Green Bay Trail and Charles Schwab


Enjoy some time outdoors and help us celebrate the beautiful Green Bay Trail! Submit your photos to Friends of the Green Bay Trail anytime before September 30th, 2020.

Voting is open from October 1st through the 18th. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to vote for their favorite photos! A total of 12 winners will be chosen.

Click here to learn more.


A Special Message from the Village, District 36, and the Winnetka Park District

Posted August 24, 2020

Dear Winnetka Neighbors,

Since March, we have been asked to think and act in different ways, adjust to a constantly-changing atmosphere, and make a number of compromises in our daily lives  that will help support our community in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Vigilance about mask-wearing, social distancing, and maintaining sanitization of hands and personal spaces has required major changes in the ways in which we live, work, and socialize.

As we segue from summer to fall, and the beginning of the school year for the children in our community, your Village and District leaders are doing their best to plan for an unprecedented situation. In accordance with guidance from the State of Illinois, Illinois School Board of Education, and Illinois Department of Public Health, our school year will look very different this year to best support the safety and health of our community. We are mindful that the spread of the virus anywhere in our community is dangerous for everyone involved and have thoughtfully identified best practices to help support the safest way forward for our children, teachers, and administrators. 

In early spring, we were unaware of the critical need to wear masks around others. We now know that masks are key to preventing the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing has become an accepted practice, but maintaining social distancing can be difficult, as it is our natural instinct to be close with one another as friends and neighbors.

As the weather turns colder, we will be inside for longer durations of time. We have learned that air circulation, natural to the outdoors, is another way to avoid concentrated exposure to the virus, should you unknowingly be in proximity to a carrier. Summer weather has been conducive to outdoor activities, though we have seen spikes in case numbers because of gatherings that occur without best practices in place.

The combination of colder weather and the fact that our children will be back in school on a hybrid schedule makes it more critical than ever for each of us to maintain the practices we know work to prevent the spread of the virus, and to encourage best practices in others such as mask-wearing, hand-washing, maintaining social distancing, staying home if you are sick, and getting tested if you experience symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

We know the last thing anyone wants is a spike in COVID-19 cases. With this in mind, let’s encourage each other to follow public health guidance that will support the well-being of our community, the recovery of our economy, and a return to schools (with safety measures in place). We are confident that if we take seriously the identified best practices of mask-wearing, social distancing, hand-washing, and staying home if you are sick, we can limit the spread of this disease in Winnetka.

We appeal to each of you to help us. We are all in this together, and by taking this threat seriously we can each be a part of the solution.


Chris Rintz
Village President

Dawn Livingston
President, District 36 School Board

Mickey Archambault
President, Winnetka Park District Board of Commissioners

The Butterfly Garden at Dwyer Park

Posted August 14, 2020

You may have noticed an explosion of color and a host of butterflies in The Butterfly Garden at the north end of Dwyer Park this summer. This garden, created and maintained by Garden Guild of Winnetka for more than 20 years, is a beautiful landmark in our community and a crucial habitat for butterflies and bees.

All the plants in the garden serve as nurseries for caterpillars and/or nectar sources for butterflies. The garden features two different species of milkweed — the only feeding source for monarch caterpillars and the only plant that monarch butterflies will lay their eggs on.

Blooms start in spring, with white daffodils and purple grape hyacinth. Summer exhibits intense color from orange and yellow yarrow, purple coneflower, and magenta blazing star. Fall brings the jewel tones of asters, goldenrod, and ornamental grasses. Take some time to smell the fragrance of butterfly bush, garden phlox, and sweet pepperbush. Nearly 30 botanical plant markers are on-site to aid in identification, and the Life Cycle of the Butterfly sign at the west corner of the garden is great for children.

We encourage you to enjoy this garden gem throughout the seasons! Stop by to read a book, have your morning coffee, or to find ideas for your own pollinator garden at home. Click here to view all the plants in the garden.

To learn more, visit the Garden Guild of Winnetka website or reach out to Meg O’Gara at mogara1@nullme.com.

A friendly note: please do not capture the butterflies, as this is their home.

Hubbard Woods Splash Pad Is Open

Posted July 09, 2020

July 10, 2020

Cool off this summer at our splash pad located in Hubbard Woods Park. The splash pad is open daily from 9am-8pm. The playground at the park is also open for your fun and enjoyment!

Wednesday in the Woods concerts are back!

Posted July 08, 2020

Wednesday in the Woods daytime and evening concerts are back! To allow for social distancing, Hubbard Woods Park will be split into two sections: a yellow section and a green section. A maximum of 50 people are allowed per section.

Patrons are required to reserve their spot in advance. Residents have priority. Pending availability, non-residents may reserve a spot the day of.

Daytime Concerts @ 11am

These interactive children’s concerts performed by Our Music Institute (OMi) begin at 11am. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Evening Concerts @ 7pm

Live music starts at 7pm. Patrons may bring dinner or pick up food from one of the nearby restaurants. Food and drinks will not be available for purchase. 

July 15: Pearls Mahone

Pearls Mahone is pure vintage Americana! With a firm foundation in traditional church music, she truly sings with spirit, combining a variety of styles, including jazz, rock, and country-western.

Click here to reserve a spot.

July 22: Sushi Roll

This band plays favorite pop and rock hits revved-up with their own unique blend of high-energy dance music, infused with rock ‘n’ roll swagger, then topped off with memorable stage costumes inspired by cosplay and anime. If there was only one word to describe this cover band, it would be animazing!

Click here to reserve a spot.

July 29: The Boy Band Night

The impact of 90s music forged an era of heartthrob adolescents known as Boy Bands. The Boy Band Night covers pop sensations like the Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, One Direction, and more!

Click here to reserve a spot.

August 26: The Jack’s

Close out the summer with The Jack’s! This hometown favorite plays a variety of music from all eras — from The Doors and Van Morrison to the Kings of Leon and Neon Trees.

Click here to reserve a spot.