St. Charles Park District to take over paddle wheel boats

St. Charles Park District to take over paddle wheel boats in Pottawatomie Park

  • The St. Charles Park District is poised to purchase and take over operation of the paddle wheel riverboats in Pottawatomie Park, which have been run by the Anderson family since 1945.

    The St. Charles Park District is poised to purchase and take over operation of the paddle wheel riverboats in Pottawatomie Park, which have been run by the Anderson family since 1945. Daily Herald File Photo

Posted3/7/2019 9:09 AM

Chet and Barb Anderson were like royalty in St. Charles, even though they weren't celebrated city or school officials, tremendous athletes or military heroes.

Their legacy was operating the St. Charles Paddlewheel Riverboats along the Fox River out of Pottawatomie Park from 1945 to about 1987 and participating in numerous service and charitable efforts in the community.


That legacy shifted to their son, Richard, as he continued to operate the paddleboat business. But it is about to officially become a job for the St. Charles Park District.

Chet Anderson died at the age of 96 in 2002, having lived in a small home with Barb near the paddleboats for many years. Barb is still with us and still living in that home.

To understand what the paddleboat business has meant to the Andersons, you have to realize that Chet was a man whose first "business" at Pottawatomie came when he was 17 years old.

He built a concession stand on his childhood farm in the mid-1920s and took it down to the park along the river to serve park visitors. It had that role until the park district built its own several years later.

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The Andersons, in recognition of all they did to bring joy to area residents through their paddleboats and catering businesses, and their commitment to community organizations, earned the city's Charlemagne Award in 1981.

It would be an odd thing indeed to say you have lived in this area a long time, yet never went on the paddleboat rides. It's just something you do with your family or visitors, or as part of an organization or club having an outing on the Fox. We've taken the ride several times and it's always an enjoyable excursion.

Starting in May, anyone who takes a ride on the boats may or may not notice that the St. Charles Park District will be in charge. As of early this week, some legal documents had to be approved to make if official. But it's a pretty sure thing, considering the park board has already approved purchasing the boats.

"We are not planning any major changes, following a similar schedule as in the past," said Jennifer Bruggeman, assistant superintendent of recreation at the park district.


"We just have to hope the river is not too high or too low in the spring," Bruggeman said. "And we also have to do some hiring and training."

Richard Anderson, who has operated the business the past 30-plus years, retired late last year. He'll be around to give the park district advice and answer questions about paddleboat operations, but the Andersons' run of having their name firmly attached to the paddleboat operation is about to come to an end.

"It's been such an iconic business in town," Bruggeman said. "We are really excited to continue this legacy."

Look up to her:

To say this is a trend in 2019 almost sounds ridiculous because we've known for a long time now that women not only aspire to do most any type of job, they certainly excel at them as well.

That being said, Jennifer Larsen, an officer in the St. Charles police department, has given young girls another sterling example to look up to.

The Daily Herald reported last week that Larsen received the Kane County Officer of the Year award for her effort to save the life of a child who had fallen off a bed and had her head lodged between the bed and the wall.

It was feared the toddler had broken her neck, but when Larsen arrived on the scene she assessed that wasn't the case, but the child was not breathing. She began doing chest compressions and ultimately revived the child.

It sounded like a tense situation, one in which not everyone would respond in the proper manner.

She saved this kid's life. I know that many women paramedics may do this sort of thing regularly, but this was a woman doing a job that not all young girls may have considered in the past. Now, it just feels normal.

It's hard to imagine how grateful that family must be that not only did Larsen choose this as her profession, but she happened to be the one who came to be in the right place at an extremely scary time to save the day.

More on the monument:

Many readers may not have been familiar with a push in Batavia to erect a downtown Flag Day Monument, so here's some more information.

My item last week mentioned a fundraiser that was held to support the project, which has been in the planning stages since the city celebrated the 100th anniversary of Flag Day on June 14, 2016.

For those who may not know, Flag Day has a special spot in Batavia's history, considering Dr. Barnard Cigrand, a Batavia dentist, came up with the idea for such an annual event.

The monument concept seeks to do what Cigrand likely had in mind all along -- focus more on the flag and honoring it, rather than putting attention on the Flag Day idea itself.

Austin Dempsey, president of Batavia Enterprises, has been a major advocate for the monument, so it is always good to have a respected businessman leading that sort of charge.

As noted last week, the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley has been a leading donor, with more than $100,000 given for the project, as well as the promise to match the fundraiser's total up to $25,000.

An e-commerce option:

In a move that shows even smaller retail shops are catching onto the multichannel retail trend, the Cocoon home décor gift shop in downtown Geneva has alerted its customers that it now has a site for online shopping.

Cocoon is certainly not the first of what one would consider a "mom-and-pop" shop to do so. Many small retailers are discovering merchant services companies that provide easy ways to link a website, e-commerce ordering and the inventory of a physical shop.

But Cocoon is a longtime retailer along Third Street and this plan to add online service could signal some change.

It means business owners and entrepreneurs who have long made their investment mostly on the fact that this retail area generates plenty of foot traffic now see that online sales generate revenue and provide a service that appeals to increasingly tech-savvy shoppers.

To market … outdoors:

It's been an added bonus for farmers market lovers to have the St. Charles Indoor Farmers Market at the Baker Church during the winter months.

That market is held indoors from 9 a.m. to noon Fridays, November until May, before moving outdoors from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. June through October.

This winter has been a drag, so I bring this up with this intention: To tease you a bit that outdoor activities are indeed not far away, but also with the hopes that this winter will finally lose its icy grip.

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