Parks and Recreation | WGLT

Parks and Recreation

Abe in a mask
Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

McLean County residents are staying home about as well as everyone else in Illinois—but we’re apparently using parks more than others across the state.

a pie chart
Town of Normal

The Normal Town Council took the first step toward a new budget Monday night with the approval of a six-year Community Investment Plan.

cute critter
City of Bloomington

The Miller Park Zoo has another cute dose of aww for visitors. Its red pandas have had three cubs. The litter has one male and two females, the first time the zoo in Bloomington has had panda cubs.

Red Pandas were once native to North America. There are fossils as far back as five million years. The zoo said their habitat today is in pockets of mountain areas above four thousand feet in China, Nepal, Burma, and Bhutan.

Luther Oaks
Google Maps

Wittenberg Woods Park in far southwest Bloomington has been on the city’s radar for years. After a public meeting Tuesday night, the new space is one step closer to reality.

Corin speaks to aldermen
Breanna Grow / WGLT

Bloomington will have two new playgrounds next fall: one benefitting children with special needs, the other serving Bloomington’s west side.

Woodbury Park
Eric Stock / WGLT

Bloomington has converted some greenspace into a new neighborhood park that it will dedicate Friday.

A city council dais and a map of the proposed Bloomington Library expansion.
Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

The Bloomington Public Library and the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department are asking the city council to make generational facility commitments.

Tree stump with a cone on top
Ryan Denham / WGLT

The death of a tree on Washington Street shall remain a mystery.

Tree stump with a cone on top
Ryan Denham / WGLT

The death and removal of a once-healthy tree in Bloomington’s Founders' Grove has sparked a police referral and a complaint to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Staff / WGLT

The Bloomington City Council narrowly passed a change to the liquor code Monday to prevent alcohol sales close to preschools and day cares.

Gametime Inc. and Harmony Park Project

A new playground planned for Bloomington's east side is designed for kids with disabilities and to bring all children together.

Need an ugly sweater? This runner has poinsettias on hers!
Carleigh Gray / WGLT

Bloomington Parks and Recreation and Fleet Feet Sports Bloomington hosted the 4th annual Ugliest Sweater Run at Miller Park on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017.

Town of Normal Parks and Recreation Facebook Page

The Town of Normal will shave a few dollars off daily admission rates at its two public pools for the rest of the summer as a mea culpa for staffing problems that lead to unexpected closures this season.

Baylee Steelman / WGLT

Bloomington residents are providing scores of ideas to improve the city's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts programs. 

Howard Daughenbaugh of Bloomington said during a public input session Thursday that the city needs to invest in multicultural organizations. He said meetings like Thursday's should appeal to diverse residents. 

Baylee Steelman / WGLT

Bloomington residents say they want a walking trail at O'Neil Park on the west side, concessions at the baseball field, and an extended swimming season.

Ron Blemler standing on bridge
Courtesy / Town of Normal

The mayor of Normal is praising a former Parks and Recreation director for his deep impact on the town.

Spamalot Opens Normal Summer Musicals

Jun 6, 2017

Once there was a brief shining moment known as Camelot the musical, with a score by Lerner and Lowe that became a Broadway classic.

Then there was the dark, free-wheeling Spamalot, a musical based on the cult film classic, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It's that version of the English legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table that will prance across the Connie Link Amphitheatre as the first of this summer's outdoor musicals.


 A new issue could be emerging in the primary election for the city of Bloomington and Town of Normal as the pressure mounts to find a replacement for soccer fields along Ireland Grove Road which host youth soccer leagues and Bloomington High School students.

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

Bloomington's five year parks plan would cost 21.2 million dollars if funded through the period.

But, in presenting the priority list to the city council, Parks and Rec Director Jay Tetzloff said nearly half the eggs go in one basket.

Starved Rock Visitor's Center / Facebook

Officials say Starved Rock State Park closures and limited parking are possibilities because of Illinois River flooding.  

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday that the river has reached the parking lot at the northern Illinois state park due to recent rains. Park officials say visitors planning to visit the park over the coming Labor Day holiday weekend should be prepared for fewer parking spaces.

Community Players Stage "Beauty And The Beast"

Jul 13, 2016

It is indeed "a tale as old as time," as the title song says, one that reminds us that the beauty hidden inside a person is what's truly worth discovering.

That's the message Brett Cottone hopes audiences will take away from the Community Players Theatre new production of the Broadway musical, "Beauty and the Beast." Cottone is the president of the theater board.

Miller Park Zoo Flamingo Exhibit Opens Friday

Jun 21, 2016
Michael Hill / WGLT

Flamingos at a new exhibit opening at the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington have been let out for the first time. More than 20 Greater Flamingos, which are the tallest species, can be seen when patrons first walk into the zoo.

Summer Musical Theater Season Begins

Jun 16, 2016

It's time once again for high school outdoor summer musicals.

This year's season at the Normal Parks and Recreation Department's Connie Link Amphitheatre is particularly family friendly. On the way next month is the stage version of "The Little Mermaid" and playing tonight through Sunday is a summer stock favorite based on Charles Schultz's "Peanuts" characters, "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown."

Ralph Weisheit

The town of Normal's Parks and Recreation director is leaving after one year on the job.

According to a news release from the town, Chris Cotten will take a similar position at a community in Kansas. His last day on the job in Normal is July first.

City Manager Mark Peterson thanked Cotten for his service and said he would be missed. Peterson says summer programs are running and are expected to proceed without any problems.

There is no timetable for finding Cotten's replacement.

Jim Browne / WGLT

The City of Bloomington says its Lincoln Leisure center on the near west side will reopen Wednesday evening. The center housing a variety of community and recreational programs was closed last month for asbestos abatement when friable asbestos was found in the furnace room. Ideal Environmental Engineering says it has finished the job and done air tests showing asbestos levels below OSHA thresholds.