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posted: 2/23/2013 5:19 PM

'Dancing With The Geneva Stars' ends 5-year run

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  • This year's "Dancing With The Geneva Stars" couples raised $12,710 for the Geneva Cultural Arts Commission and the Geneva Academic Foundation.

    This year's "Dancing With The Geneva Stars" couples raised $12,710 for the Geneva Cultural Arts Commission and the Geneva Academic Foundation.
    Courtesy of Dancing with the Geneva Stars


Those who attended "Dancing With The Geneva Stars" two weeks ago just became part of city trivia. They were the last to see the event -- at least of the ones presented by the Geneva Cultural Arts Commission.

Commission chairman Tim Vetang informed members of the "DWTGS" committee last week that it was time to put the popular five-year fundraising event to bed.

It's been a terrific event, for sure. But it takes a lot of volunteers and a lot of hours to organize. In addition, it was getting hard to find "celebrity" dancers, or at least Genevans who are fairly well-known and could draw plenty of votes, which is how the thing made money for the commission and the Geneva Academic Foundation.

Event chairwoman Carolyn Hill was stepping down regardless of what the commission decided to do. She's worked year-round on this event since its inception, and she deserves a break.

"It's on hiatus, but I don't see it coming back," Vetang said. "Another organization could try to take it on, but the cultural arts commission is moving on to a different type of event."

Many people worked hard to make this event happen -- far too many to list here. But it would be silly not to mention Linda Cunningham as a key driver. The State Street Dance Studio director always had a vision for how the show could improve each year. Without her, this event likely would've fallen flat on its face.

Instead, it goes in the record books as one of the area's all-time great ideas. My wife and I were pleased to dance in the first event in 2009, and I have enjoyed being a member of the planning committee for the past four years.

For a town square: As a supporter of the First Street downtown revitalization project in St. Charles since its inception, it's tough to hear city officials contemplate whether to punt in regard to the project's third and fourth phases. But it's also entirely understandable.

The open land on the east side of First Street, where the Manor Restaurant and old Blue Goose supermarket once resided, may never see the planned River Loft and River Terrace offices, retail and condos along the Fox River. The stubborn economy has blurred all of that.

For what it's worth, here are a couple of ideas: Turn that property into an old-fashioned town square with a gazebo, paved walkways, plants and trees. You could envision it as a slightly more urban version of Lincoln Park's current gazebo, but give it a name steeped in city history, such as Stewart Mill Place. The Stewart Mill, which sat where the Hotel Baker currently stands, burned down in 1918.

Such a setting could create a picnic-type atmosphere at which people could buy lunch downtown and eat it outside on nice days. Restaurants could create "city park carry-outs," that would be ready to go in minutes.

A band shell would be nice, but Lincoln and Pottawatomie parks are hard to beat for music in small settings, unless the city and park district wanted to take a look at Batavia's shell on its Riverwalk and duplicate it as a downtown centerpiece.

It's a tough pill to swallow when that prime land can't bring the city tax money as planned, but St. Charles also has a reputation for keeping its residents closely connected to the Fox River. This would extend that core value.

Crummy plates: Is this just another thing the state of Illinois isn't very good at? It seems like our state license plates get rusty a lot faster than other states. Or is it just that, on average, we see a lot more Illinois plates than we do of other states?

It's surely not a scientific observation, but on those occasions when I spot them, I haven't noticed Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan or Indiana plates looking quite as bad as ours.

Those spaghetti guys: My comment last week about the Italian sausage and meatball dinner at the Geneva United Methodist Church community supper reminded me that another free community meal features Italian favorites.

It's been going on for nearly four years at the St. Charles Episcopal Church with its Two Guys and Spaghetti meals, an idea brought to life by Joe Ryan and Matt Rhead.

"I believe our Two Guys' Italian fare rivals any in town," says church member Katie Thomson of St. Charles.

Two Guys and Spaghetti is from 5 to 7 p.m. the last Sunday of the month. Much like the Geneva United Methodist free meal, it has evolved into more than a break for folks on hard times, Thomson says.

"We get our regular visitors, who we enjoy seeing each month, as well as new faces, too," she said. "Folks in need are now joined by those who are not, but who want to enjoy the food and friendship there."

The churches taking the time to offer these free community meals speak volumes about the towns we live in.

The urban feeling: You can't keep a good tavern location empty for long it seems.

Thus, the empty Red Star Tavern site in the Geneva Commons will soon be home to Bar Louie, a chain out of Texas known for its good food and fun atmosphere.

Area residents may be familiar with the Bar Louie locations in Naperville and Oak Brook.

The Geneva operation could be hopping in as soon as a couple of weeks.

All have favorites: Readers seem to enjoy when I spout off about restaurants or certain types of food I like. The most feedback occurs when I mention those two glorious staples of the American diet -- pizza and Italian beef sandwiches.

We all have our favorites, so reader Dave Frye reminds me that Orlando's on the east side of Geneva still makes a very decent pizza. He calls it the best in town.

Who will win?: So what was the best movie this past year? Please don't say "Piranha 3DD."

Of tonight's nominated movies, I have seen only "Lincoln" and "Silver Linings Playbook," both of which were great films. That means I have to pull for those at the moment.

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