‘You’re kidding me,” said the out-of-towner I was introducing to the Riverwalk. “This is the crown jewel of Naperville?”
I looked at him. “No. The Riverwalk itself is the crown jewel of Naperville,” I said. “This is ... OK, this is kind of an embarrassment.” I never took anyone to the Riverwalk Eatery again.
He didn’t eat his hot dog, which looked as though it had come out of a vending machine. There was only one picnic table outside at the time, on the Carillon side, and that was full of kids playing video games. And it was far too glorious a day to sit in the gloomy little building.
In short, I don’t want to put anyone down, but the Riverwalk Eatery just doesn’t live up to its unique location. That’s why I was so delighted to see that the Park District is contemplating remodeling the inside of the building and turning the outside into an open air patio.
I realize that it’s far from a final plan, but I would like to encourage the Park Board to do more than make a few cosmetic changes. There should be a wrap around patio so that people can chose to also look at the quarry and the paddle boats. If that doesn’t fit the budget, go back to the founding principle of the Riverwalk, and solicit volunteer labor.
Don’t serve a hot dog in Chicago unless it is a HOT DOG, and dragged through the garden. Instead, franchise out pizza by the slice. You’ll get a lot of takers for that. And perhaps local civic groups could do what they do at the ice cream socials in Central Park, occasionally supplement the menu with homemade items. If you solicit ideas, you’ll have more than you can use.
And by all means, serve beer at least. The idea that you can go paddle boating on a hot summer day and not relax with a cold beer afterwards seems un-American. We have an abundance of locally brewed craft beers in this area that their brewers would love to promote at a place like that. And put larger windows in the eatery. If you need more money, I think people will give you more money. I will.
Since this is the day before Halloween, I must now comment on the day. Yes, I love to see the little kids, bewildered in their bumble bee costumes, and enjoyed taking my three around when they were little.
But there’s little to recommend dental issues, endorsing extortion, and hypoglycemic sobbing tantrums. Sure, trick or treat is fun. That seems to be all the House of Representatives majority wants to do. But why let your kids eat stuff you’d never let your dog eat?
When I was droving cattle as a kid, down around and often across the Mexican border (it was a different time), a number of us would occasionally set up camp together. We were all eating frijoles anyway.
As we talked in a combination of broken English and broken Spanish, I was fascinated when I first heard about their All Hollows Eve celebration, Dia de Muertos, the three-day celebration of the dead. It varies from region to region, even today, but Oct. 31 is often the day the children invite the spirits of dead children (angelitos) to visit, Nov. 1 is usually when deceased adults are invited back, and Nov. 2, All Souls Day, is the day families decorate the graves of their relatives with offerings (ofrendas), so the souls can hear their prayers and messages.
It’s about treasured memories, funny stories, prayers, offerings of the departed’s favorite foods or things, photos of happy times, poems, and marigolds. You know, nobody who dies is ever really gone as long as they live on in our memories. If we want to celebrate something, we should celebrate that.