Wheaton grants liquor licenses for Memorial Park concert series
In Wheaton's version of a North Shore tradition, music lovers can spend a summertime evening listening to live concerts in a historic park while sipping some vino or a cold brew.
A year after performances were put on hold because of COVID-19, Memorial Park will welcome back audiences to spread out on the lawn for a scaled-back entertainment series starting in early June.
And while organizers have yet to announce the lineup, Memorial Park will take on one sound of summer when patrons crack open a beer.
The city council has approved liquor licenses to allow the Wheaton Park District to serve beer and wine during the weekend concert series.
Events in Memorial Park also will be modified with crowd capacity limits, hand-washing stations and other COVID-19 precautions. Patrons will be required to wear masks and reserve tickets to enter the neighborhood park.
It's the new normal for the social calendar at Memorial Park, a summer destination updated with a $5 million renovation in 2020.
A year after a pandemic-canceled season, Wheaton's municipal band also plans to return to the park for Thursday night concerts from the stage of a new band shell.
Founded during the Great Depression, the band will strike up its new season on June 10.
Fans will need to reserve free tickets, provide their own socially distanced seating and wear a mask.
The park district, meanwhile, is planning to stage 12 evenings of entertainment.
At the entrances to Memorial Park, volunteers or employees will scan tickets touch-free from mobile devices. Ticket holders will receive a color-coded wristband that will assign them to a specific section and concession area of the park.
Under Phase 4 of the state's reopening plan, Memorial Park will be allowed to host events at 25% capacity.
If the state advances to the so-called "Bridge Phase," a stage between the current rules and the final step in reopening Illinois and moving to almost pre-pandemic conditions under Phase 5, events could be hosted at 60% capacity.
Patrons will need another wristband to purchase alcohol. Beverages will be sold prepackaged and opened by the consumer.
Concertgoers will only be allowed to drink beer and wine while seated in their assigned ticketing section.
The entertainment series will be held on the following dates: 5 to 8 p.m. June 4; 6 to 9:30 p.m. June 5; 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. June 25-26; 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. July 9-10; 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. July 23-24; 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 7-8; and 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sept. 10-11.