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A century of recreation – Calumet Memorial Park District to celebrate centennial with July 3 festival

By Josh Bootsma

CALUMET CITY, Ill. (June 23, 2022) – Calumet City and the Village of Burnham’s park district is celebrating its 100-year anniversary this year, and will mark the milestone with a community-focused festival and fireworks display on Sunday, July 3.

The Calumet Memorial Park District services 18 parks and other recreational facilities in Calumet City and Burnham. The July 3 event will include events primarily at Memorial Park, located at 612 Wentworth Avenue, and end with a fireworks show at Burnham Park, at Green Bay Avenue and 138th Place. These two parks were the first two original park sites of the Calumet Memorial Park District (CMPD).

The building that houses Calumet Memorial Park District, seen in this photo from the 1920s, still stands today. (Photo provided)

July 3 events

The centennial kicks off at Memorial Park at 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 3. Games, food vendors, a live DJ, and other offerings will be available throughout the day. Some events are scheduled for set times:

  • 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. — Performances by the Calumet City Chargers Cheerleaders, and Rico’s Michael Jackson Experience
  • 5:45 p.m. — Digging up and opening of the CMPD’s 75th Anniversary Time Capsule, which was buried in 1997.
  • 6 p.m. — Official centennial proclamation and recognition of dignitaries.
  • 6:30 – 8 p.m. — Final Say live in concert
    • Final Say’s website bills them as having an “extensive repertoire of songs that range from the latest Top 40 hits to classics that always bring an audience to their feet.”
  • At Burnham Park — 9:30 p.m. — Fireworks

100 years of Calumet Memorial Park District

According to news release written by former CMPD Supervisor Gene Popa, the park district was formed in 1922, as residents of West Hammond (a prior name for Calumet City) and Burnham voted to establish a park district to honor residents who had served in World War I.

The pool at Memorial Park in 1920 was a community destination, as shown in the above photo from the 1920s. The area is now a parking lot, though CMPD still has a pool located about two miles south at Finneran Park (located at Lincoln Avenue and Freeland Avenue). (Photo provided)
Calumet Memorial Park District
A brave diver entertains the crowd at the Memorial Park Pool, roughly 100 years ago. (Photo provided)

Popa said, “West Hammond had sent more of its young men to the war, per capita, than almost any other community in the United States, so the feeling among residents was that a more traditional monument, such as a statue or fountain, did not fully represent the pride which local citizens felt for their veterans.”

The park district was officially launched on Veterans Day in 1922, with two parks already in existence: Memorial Park in West Hammond, and Burnham Park in the Village of Burnham.

Some of the southernmost land of the park district was gifted to the Lan-Oak Park District in Lansing when it was established in 1948, Popa said. Other changes throughout the decades slowly formed the CMPD into what it is today, a park district that includes 18 parks and multiple community-focused facilities, including the Family Fun Center, Finneran Pool, and Sandridge Community Center.

These 1920s basket-ballers paused for a photo on the steps of the Calumet Memorial Park District building, located at 626 Wentworth Avenue in Calumet City. (Photo provided)

For more information about the Calumet Memorial Park District or the July 3 centennial event, visit the CMPD’s Facebook page or website.

Josh Bootsma
Josh Bootsma
Josh is Managing Editor at The Lansing Journal and believes in the power and purpose of community news. He covers any local topics—from village government to theatre, from business openings to migratory birds.