We’re in the final stages of construction for the Red Oaks Farm playground, located in the picnic area. A Memorial Day weekend opening is anticipated, weather permitting.

The playground’s name recalls the rich history of Cantigny. When Joseph Medill purchased this property in 1894 he named it Red Oaks Farm.

The farm was renamed “Cantigny” by Medill’s grandson, Colonel Robert R. McCormick. It was the Colonel’s way of honoring the men and women he served with in World War I, at the Battle of Cantigny in France. We’ll be commemorating the 100th anniversary of that battle in just a few weeks.

The playground was designed by Daniels Woodland, a California company that has also created designs for Disney, Sony and Universal Pictures. It’s made of California Redwood and will feature a farm theme complete with simulated grain silo, water tower and storage barn. The ramps, bridges and sidewalks will be easy for wheelchairs and strollers to navigate.

The theme and structure will make this a special playground for our young visitors. We also chose a design that fits the surrounding landscape, creating a natural play area that complements the land.

Adjacent to the playground is our 2.5-mile hiking trail, 75 picnic tables and a new picnic pavilion available for private gatherings.

For safety, the roadway that cut through the old playground and main picnic area was relocated to the north, along Roosevelt Road. Plans call for planting crops next to the playground to further recall Cantigny’s working farm heritage.

We believe this will be a very special place for your entire family to play, learn, relax and most importantly have fun.

By the way, the old Cantigny playground is getting a second life. Kids Around the World, a nonprofit organization from Rockford, dismantled our equipment in May 2017. Part of its mission is to refurbish and reinstall playgrounds in poverty-stricken communities in other countries. We don’t know where our old swings and slides ended up, but we can’t think of a happier recycling story.

Posted by Jeff Reiter

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