Decatur News!

For a change, I’m back to news about Decatur! For the last few months, the Decatur Navigator became the Divorce Navigator. I don’t think I’m life coach material for those going through a divorce, but life has settled down into a much more comfortable place. I survived. Now onto better things…

Well, onto Decatur, which is a better thing. It’s official that the Decatur Celebration is over for good. The organization claimed bankruptcy, and now the annual street festival is over. For years, it was on shaky ground. Every year was potentially the last year due to expenses outweighing revenue.

A few years ago, temporary fencing was put in place so that entry fees could be collected. That changed the whole flavor of the Celebration for many. It wasn’t a bad idea, but it didn’t quite feel the same afterwards. There were fewer and fewer arts and craft vendors year-after-year, it seemed. The musical lineup always remained fairly strong, as that was the main draw of the event.

Could it have been managed better? I’m sure, but I wasn’t in the boardroom, so I don’t know the whole story. It was just too costly to make a profit, even with ticket prices, beer tickets, local business donations, and food revenue. I’m not sure anyone could have turned it into a profitable event, but it lasted 30+ years, and that’s quite an achievement in itself.

There was always a lot of talk about bad behavior at the Celebration, but in all the years I attended, I never once witnessed anyone out of line or causing trouble. I’m sure there were scuffles here and there, but I never felt unsafe at the Celebration.

I’m going to miss it. It was a distinctly Decatur event, but we can enjoy new events that look to be much more sustainable.

The Devon Amphitheater and the new waterpark, are more than just one weekend events. Concerts are undoubtedly bringing in people from miles away. That’s added revenue for the city and park district throughout the summer. It also gives us more things to do as residents. I’ll be attending the Gin Blossoms concert in July. I’ve attended two concerts at the Devon, and both times were very enjoyable evenings. The park district has done a terrific job getting people in and out of the amphitheater safely and efficiently, from day 1.

Splash Cove, the new water park, has been packing them in since opening too. It was scheduled to open for its first year last year, but Covid-19 delayed the opening till this year. Last night, there was an “incident” that caused the water park to temporarily close and rethink things. Apparently a fight broke out between some younger patrons. Those involved in the fight have now been banned, and the water park is reevaluating safety measures.

And yes, there are some residents already saying the water park is doomed and will fail “like everything else does in Decatur.” I remember fights at the old Holiday Swim Club in my childhood neighborhood. It was always settled quickly, with one of the boys usually being tossed against a chain link fence, along with his pride. They were usually friends again the next day. Maybe times have changed, but don’t think that the “good ole days” were always perfect with kids behaving like angels.

One thing that helped keep the peace at the pool was that it was membership only. Visitors could attend when accompanied by a member. It was a busy and crowded pool at times. Boy, do I miss it. Since it was a neighborhood pool, everyone knew everyone through the kids. Believe me, us kids knew exactly where every other kid lived, who their parents were, what car their parents drove, who the siblings were of each kid, what grade each kid was in, and a lot of gossipy stuff on top. Nobody showed up incognito and slipped away into the darkness.

Yes, kids were not only dropped off at the pool, but (gasp) we walked there and back (as the streetlights starting turning on) by ourselves, unaccompanied by the National Guard, or a smartphone. This was back when parents sent their kids out in the morning, and told them to be home by dark. Maybe we would check in around lunchtime, but the parents didn’t worry. It’s hard to even imagine that now.

I read a few comments on Facebook about parents dropping their kids off at the water park, like it was the most horrible thing to do. Hmm, my parents and all parents of the 1970s and 80s must have been horrible too. I guess times have changed, and now kids need policed 24/7. Is that true? I have a feeling, we just blow everything up out of proportion, and kids are still kids.

Maybe it would be wise to require a membership at the new water park, a maybe not such much a paid membership, but a visitor directory. Minors could be required to wear bracelets linked to such information. Parent names and contact information could be kept on file for each minor attending. Minors would have to be accompanied by a parent or grandparent, if not a current member.

Reducing max capacity limits also sounds like a good idea. From what I’ve heard, it’s very crowded at times. Obviously, smaller crowds are easier to oversee, and would create a more enjoyable experience for all. Crowded pools just aren’t my idea of fun, especially when you have young children with you that you’re trying to keep an eye on.

I think the water park will get it figured out. The actions of a few shouldn’t ruin everything for us all.

Update: A lot of these suggestions were used in the new pool guidelines. All minors 15 and under now must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. All visitors, over the age of 5, will now be required to obtain a Splash Cove identification card. Max capacity has also been reduced by 25%. You can find out more at Decatur-parks.org.

I think these are necessary guidelines, and I hope that it creates a more safe and enjoyable experience for all.