For more than 40 years, area Lions clubs have hosted a big “Picnic in the Park” for families and folks with disabilities.
The handicapped-accessible Shabbona Lake State Park comes alive every third Thursday in July with kids and kids at heart with special needs, and a bunch of members of 15 Lions clubs. The entire affair is put together with no cost to the participants. This year is no different as the event is set for July 18.
The planning begins in early in March, as winter is about to yield to spring, and the group starts discussing warm days suitable for pontoon boats that will provide room for wheelchair rides, petting zoos and fishing among, other items for the fun of their special guests. Tractor-pulled wheelchair-accessible trams make moving around the park convenient. A hot dog lunch is available, along with popcorn for snacking.
The Lions Clubs join forces to make the day special, each group able to provide its own specific area of fun. The Kirkland, Genoa, Paw Paw, Leland, Earlville, Sycamore, DeKalb, Cortland, Malta, Shabbona, Lee, Waterman, Hinckley, Somonauk and Sandwich Lions clubs started the event when they built a fishing pier for people in wheelchairs.
The day provides an anniversary of the dedication of that construction in 1979. Some years later, the pier was rebuilt in an effort to always be safe. For safety also, tents provide shelter from the sun and a cooling station where plenty of water is available.
Those many years of this event have created a million memories along with new and renewed friendships for both the guests and the hosts. The Lions encourage families with special people to join them Thursday, July 18.
To make things run smoother, and for the group to provide enough food, people are urged to let the Lions know in advance; contact Ed and Sue Carter at 316 Pence St., Plano, 630-330-1341 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shabbona Lake State Park is south of the community of Shabbona on Route 30. A GPS address of 4100 Bluebird Lane, Shabbona, can be used to get close to the event.