General Archives

Stepan Family Gives Donation for Boat Launch

Posted July 12, 2021

Winnetka Park District to use donation for upkeep + development at Lloyd Beach

Winnetka, IL; July 12, 2021 — The Winnetka Park District, in conjunction with the Winnetka Parks Foundation, is pleased to announce the acceptance of a generous donation from the Stepan family to enhance the boat launch at Lloyd Beach. In recognition of their donation, the boat launch has been renamed Stepan Family Boat Launch.

The family’s donation will help with outer pier improvements to the Stepan Family Boat Launch and other future improvements to the launch area.

“As a family who has called Winnetka home for more than 75 years, we are honored to support such a precious recreational asset. We truly love everything this community offers and are grateful to leave a lasting legacy to be enjoyed by families for years to come,” said Charlotte (Stepan) Shea. Mrs. Shea, her brothers and sister, parents, and extended family members enjoyed many boating excursions from the boat launch.

“There are so many wonderful memories of times spent boating on Lake Michigan. Activities at Lloyd Park and the boat launch have been woven into our family for decades. We are thrilled to support the Winnetka Park District and the boating community. Giving back is very important to the entire Stepan family,” said Mrs. Shea.

The financial support from the Stepan family will provide continued improvement and maintenance to serve the powerboat community. Recent improvements at Lloyd Park, such as a new, expansive beach, more efficient traffic flow, enhanced motorized and non-motorized boat storage, and longer operating hours, allow Lloyd Beach to accommodate more patrons this season. All of the projects completed are part of the Winnetka Waterfront 2030 Lakefront Master Plan.

“My sincerest thanks goes to the Stepan family for their donation and support. The Park District board of commissioners is honored to accept the Stepan family’s investment in the boat launch. The Stepan family’s donation helps the Park District complete another portion of the Winnetka Waterfront 2030 Lakefront Master Plan,” said, Warren James, president of the Winnetka Park District board of commissioners.

“The entire community is thrilled to see the progress made thus far and are excited for the future of our lakefront. We have many projects ahead of us. The Stepan family’s investment in the boat launch is greatly appreciated,” said James.

Later this summer, the Stepan family will gather at the Stepan Family Boat Launch for a dedication ceremony.

About the Winnetka Parks Foundation

The Winnetka Parks Foundation (WPF) is an official 501c3 nonprofit organization, established in 1999 to enrich our village parks, beaches, recreational activities, and community events. In partnership with the Winnetka Park District and other entities, the WPF also coordinates and sponsors youth programming events to engage underserved communities, extending our outreach beyond the Village of Winnetka. Through generous donations from community members, the foundation has raised more than $2 million to help fund key Winnetka Park District events and projects, to include the Stepan Family Boat Launch and other Winnetka Waterfront 2030 Lakefront Master Plan projects.

Glenn L. Felner Named 2021 Grand Marshal of Parade

Posted June 29, 2021

Winnetka Park District Celebrates World War II Veteran this Fourth of July

Winnetka, IL; June 28, 2021 — Glenn L. Felner, World War II veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, will serve as grand marshal for the 2021 Fourth of July Parade. The parade, held 10am, Sunday, July 4, will afford parade attendees the opportunity to recognize Mr. Felner’s bravery, leadership, and patriotism for his participation in what has been called the “greatest American battle of the war.”

Born in Chicago, Felner enlisted in the army after high school and served as a technical corporal for the 271st Regiment, 69th Infantry, Division Seventh Army. As a combat infantryman, Felner fought in the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes region of Belgium, where he survived brutal weeks of frigid conditions in a quest for freedom and liberation. Months later in Germany, his unit came upon the Buchenwald Concentration Camp where he saved thousands of Jewish prisoners “from certain death at the hands of their Nazi captors.”

Felner received many military accolades for his heroic activities including the Combat Infantry Badge, the U.S. Bronze Star, and the French Legion of Honor decoration.

Leaving his military career behind, Felner came home to a job in journalism for the Chicago Sun-Times but eventually spent decades in the insurance industry.

Successful during his career with Mass Mutual as a chartered life underwriter, Felner is just as proud of his accomplishments as an animal lover. Felner was an honorary consul general in Rwanda through the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, established the PAWS Adoption Center in Highland Park, and if given the chance, would bring any stray dog into his home to stay forever. Along with wife Bonnie and dogs Patch and Alfie, Felner continues to impress.

The Winnetka Park District and Village of Winnetka are honored to recognize Felner as grand marshal of the Fourth of July parade. The parade starts at Elm Street and Glendale Avenue and travels east on Elm Street to the Village Green. Following the parade, the Winnetka Park District will host Fourthfest at 12pm with the support from local business sponsors. Fourthfest participants will enjoy a balloon artist, crafts, games, inflatables, a giant slide, and more.

At-home activities and resources roundup

Posted February 12, 2021

During our district-wide closure, we want to provide the community with tips and ideas to stay happy, active and healthy at home during this challenging time. Follow our ideas for fitness and exercise, indoor and outdoor activities, crafts and projects for all ages. We will be updating this blog post, our Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.



Stay healthy and active with at-home workouts. We’ve started compiling a list with many options – from local studios doing Facebook lives to YouTube channels to free trials!

Kid Activities

Virtual Museum and Parks Visits

Meditation and more

Helpful Links

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


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 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.


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

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

Congratulations to our Fourth of July Parade Winners!

Posted July 08, 2020

Thank you to all who participated in our Fourth of July Parade. We had a total of 73 vehicles come out and celebrate with us. Prizes were given to the best decorated vehicles. Congratulations to the winning families!

Click here to view a recording of the parade.

Best Decorated Vehicle

#1 Free session of summer camp: Vehicle 26, Hardy Family
#2 Beach season pass for a family of four: Vehicle 7, Brown Family
#3 Free session of tennis group lesson: Vehicle 71, Wentezl Family
#4 Free session of skating or hockey group lesson: Vehicle 45, Morse Family

People’s Choice Award

Free golf foursome with two carts: Vehicle 10, Evans Family