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Opinion

St. Charles Park District rentals accomodate all party styles, occasions

The date’s set, the guest list is written and your Pinterest board is exploding with party theme ideas. Now it’s time to find a venue for your upcoming event. Whether it’s a milestone birthday or anniversary, memorial, fundraiser or wedding, the St. Charles Park District has a room for you.

Offering unique and functional spaces for all sizes inside and out, you have your pick from pavilions, community and sports centers, and even the Park District’s own paddlewheel riverboat.

Baker Community Center

Rich in history and architectural detail, the Baker Community Center is a must-see. Dedicated to the St. Charles community in 1926, the building boasts the Collins Auditorium, a 2,200-square-foot space with high ceilings, stage, expansive banks of windows and the capacity to hold 150 guests. The possibilities are endless for weddings, business meetings, banquets and other special occasions.

The auditorium’s adjoining Peterson Lounge, also with access off the lobby, can be closed off for a cozier rental space. The oak trim, fireplace and grand piano set the scene for an intimate luncheon, memorial service or meeting.

The kitchen can be added for an additional fee, or if you prefer, you can rent the entire first floor, which was renovated in 2017 to add air-conditioning, an elevator, restrooms and access to the veranda off the lobby. Other cosmetic changes took place as well -- all while keeping the historic charm of the building that was built by Col. Edward and Harriet Baker as a living memorial to their son, Henry Rockwell Baker and to veterans of World War I.

“The center continues to provide history, charm and space for people to gather, celebrate and to be part of a community – carrying on its mission more than 90 years later,” said Connie Kurr, rental facilitator.

For more information, call Connie at 630-584-4317.

Pottawatomie Community Center

Conveniently located along the Fox River and providing a plethora of recreational options is Pottawatomie Community Center. Available to rent are multi-purpose rooms, an activity studio and gym. The option to combine rooms is popular, such as using the gym for games and a room for cake and presents. Or start your party inside and then take advantage of all Pottawatomie has to offer outside, as it sits next to River View Miniature Golf Course, Swanson Pool, playground, trails and the picturesque Pottawatomie Park.

“We offer more than four walls inside a building -- the trails, park, pool and mini-golf can be extensions of your party,” said Lara Piner, Community Center Supervisor.

For more information, call Lara at 630-513-4330.

Riverboat Cruises

One party extension at Pottawatomie could be a private charter on the Fox River Queen or St. Charles Belle II. The two-story, 1800s replica paddlewheel riverboats which boards at Pottawatomie, each offer an upper, open-air deck, and can accommodate 90 guests for a sight-seeing tour or 40 guests for a seated dinner or luncheon.

“The private charter is a unique experience for party-goers, allowing them to see St. Charles from a whole new perspective,” said Assistant Superintendent of Recreation Jen Bruggeman, adding the cruise is popular for milestone birthday parties, bridal showers and day-after wedding brunches.

For more information, call Tera Harvey at 630-584-2334.

Natural Areas

While renting an outdoor pavilion is an option to have your party surrounded in nature, another option is Hickory Knolls Discovery Center. Situated on 130 acres of wetlands, woodlands and prairies, multiple rooms accommodate different party sizes plus the option of renting the entire center.

The Gloria Klimek Exhibit Hall, with its floor to ceiling corner windows, provide a beautiful, natural backdrop for a wedding ceremony, meeting or other gathering.

The Twinleaf room can be divided into two to accommodate up to 75 guests or left open for 150 guests. The room comes with AV equipment, adjoining kitchen and access to the north patio.

“What sets Hickory Knolls apart from other venues is being on the edge of a large natural area,” said Chris Gingrich, Assistant Superintendent of Outdoor Education. “Guests can relax in the native plant garden, enjoy the scenic views in a natural park setting or incorporate a hike in their party or playtime in the Hideout. Nature is truly all around.”

To book a party at Hickory Knolls, call Amanda Schiferi at 630-513-4345. To reserve a pavilion, visit https://www.stcparks.org/outdoor-pavilions/.

Sports & Pre-packaged Birthday Parties

For parties with a sports component, look no further than Sportsplex with its turf fields and multipurpose room. Recently renovated, this 62,500-square-foot facility, gives event planners options for use of its two turf fields with spectator seating. Boarded and unboarded half and full fields are available. For more information, call Cayla Greenfield at 630-513-4386.

And if you’re planning a party for your child’s birthday but would prefer to be more hands-off, choose from one of several pre-packaged party themes such as a Lego Party, Barnyard Bash, Dino Dig or Sports of all Sorts. To book a party, visit https://www.stcparks.org/birthday-parties/.

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