Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Oklahoma!" Now Playing in Joliet

By Mary Baskerville, Carriage Stone Communications

JOLIET--“Oh, what a beautiful morning.”
Oh, what a wonderful setting for community theatre—the Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park.  Rodgers & Hammerstein’s classic “Oklahoma!” fills the stage with delightful and familiar characters.  The play is presented in cooperation with Latitude 41 Theatre, billed as “Joliet’s newest community theatre group.” 
Performances continue on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, June 22, 23, and 24,  and again on June 29, 30 and July 1.  Ticket information, visit the web at http://bicentennialpark.org/main.html

 More on Bicentennial Park in Joliet:
History drifts along the
shores of the Des Plaines River Bank
A nostalgia note about the Bicentennial Park
August 31, 1973 was a day of excitement in Joliet. Important visitors were expected to arrive by canoe.  Reenactors portraying Louis Jolliet and Pere Jacques Marquette, along with their band of voyagers, paddled up the river to the site of what would become today’s Bicentennial Park.

The landing on the banks of the Des Plaines River celebrated the 300-year mark of Louis Jolliet and Pere Jacques Marquette’s voyage of exploration on the river.
The Joliet Tricentennial Committee took charge of welcoming the visitors, hosting a downtown parade, and welcoming dinner. Early entries into the parade included the Joliet YMCA Indian Guides, Sea Ship Explorers #44, Joliet Township West Band, Gompers Junior High Band, the Lassies of Stone City Post 2199 and the Pat Petites.  A parade viewing stand was in front of the Rialto Theatre.

A Joliet-Marquette banner was put up at Chicago and Jefferson Streets on August 1, 1973.  The committee struck a special Tricentennial Medallion in silver and bronze. An art fair on the grounds of the Will County Court House included art by Joliet Junior College students, Statesville inmates, the Joliet Art League and the Gallery of Arts.

On arrival, Louis Jolliet, recreated by Reid Lewis, addressed the crowd, and delighted all with stories of the river adventure—a 3,000 mile journey in search of a route to the Pacific.  The four-month voyage started in St. Ignace, Michigan on May 17 and ended on September 19 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, having traveled through or  along the shores of Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri Tennessee, Arkansas.

Illinois towns included Savanna,  Port Byron, Moline, Rock Island, Davenport, Nauvoo, Hamilton, Warsaw, Quincy, Alton, Cahokia, Ft. De Chartres and Prairie Du Rocher, Pierre Menard Home, Kaskaskia Island, Chester, Grand Tower, Thebes, Cairo, Grafton, Kampsville, Florence, Beardstown, Havana, Pekin, Peoria, Chillicothe, Hennepin, Utica, Ottawa, Morris, Joliet, Good Lake Prairie St. Park, Evanston, Highland Park, Lake Forest, Waukegan, Zion, and Illinois Beach Park.