Publisher's Note

Stay and Celebrate the Spirit

A new word has recently entered the cultural lexicon—I’m sure you’ve heard of it by now—the staycation, a vacation spent close to home. With gas prices eating up your pocketbook and the best-laid air travel plans culminating in anger management classes, it’s no wonder this word has exploded in popularity.

This summer, I’ll be joining the swelling ranks of staycationers, exploring all we have to offer right here in central Illinois. With a limited time to enjoy the green grass, blue skies and fresh flowers, I prefer to escape in the winter anyway.

This year, the Spirit of Peoria riverboat, the Midwest’s only authentic paddle wheeler, celebrates its 20th anniversary (page 18). Has it been that long, really? Some of my favorite memories include watching the 4th of July fireworks and star-gazing from its upper deck. What a grand attraction this ship is—how wonderful to have it docked here in Peoria!

The Spirit of Peoria—its name says it all. Across two decades, this charming little riverboat has become an icon, representing so many things about the city—our ties to the river, our ties to a storied past. I can think of no image more representative of this town, yet after 20 years, how easy it is for us locals to take it for granted.

Imagine our Peoria skyline without its Spirit—something would be terribly missing. If you haven’t spent a relaxing evening on the boat in awhile, you might add it to your calendar this summer.

Staycationers will certainly want to hit up The Spotted Cow—nothing is better in the dog days of August than a cool spoonful of delicious ice cream. Owner Frank Abdnour has become a bit of a local celebrity in his two-decades-plus of selling the frozen treat. And while chocolate mint is still my favorite, I’m always tempted by the variety of unique flavors at this hometown favorite. Could we have just a taste of each?

Summer is synonymous with our national pastime, and after attending a Cubs game at Wrigley Field earlier this year, I’m ready to check out the mini-Wrigley—Little Cubs Field in Freeport (see page 8). What an interesting concept to have come to fruition!

Of course, Ryne Sandberg—excuse me, Ryno—is back again this year leading the Chiefs at our own O’Brien Field, and yes, Peoria’s Mr. Baseball, Pete Vonachen, will be there to cheer on the home team and mingle with the fans.

Check out our upcoming events on page 68 and feel good about your staycation! This year’s 4th of July fireworks show—the Methodist Red, White and Boom!—promises to be even bigger and better than last year, having expanded to three days of festivities on the riverfront. And from farmer’s markets to festivals, there are special activities every day of the week for all ages and interests. You certainly won’t be bored, and with R&R the focus, it’s good to be home.

I’ve piled up quite a few books to read this summer. A cool glass of iced tea or a cold pinot grigio on the patio, along with a new mystery book, makes for a delightful weekend afternoon. After a long week at the office, I’m ready for it! a&s

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