ORION, IL – Today Presidents proudly showed off their restored Orion Central Park Bandshell and Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn saluted Orion for the community effort put forth in saving the historical structure that won the Main Street Premier Project of the Year Award.
“The Orion Central Park Bandshell is a shining star in the Main Street program and serves as an outstanding example of what a community can accomplish when people band together,” Quinn said. “Main Street helps communities such as Orion appreciate the treasures in their midst, and fosters a spirit of volunteerism, a sense of place and a new civic pride."
Standing in front of the renovated bandshell, Quinn noted the rich history of Orion, and illustrated why Orion Main Street was presented the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence at the 10th Annual Main Street state conference in Elgin last month. Orion also took home the Economic Restructuring Committee's Cooperative Interest Buydown Program Award.
“The citizens of Orion serve as role models of how individuals can breathe new life into their community,” said Quinn. “Orion has a unique heritage and has greatly benefited from the revitalization support of the Main Street program.”
The Central Park Bandshell was first built in 1913, but by 1967, the facility had deteriorated so much that village board members wanted to demolish it. Going door to door, supporters of the bandshell collected enough money to make the necessary repairs and the structure survived. Last year, the wrecking ball came knocking again – it was recommended that the bandshell be torn down and replaced.
Once more, supporters banded together and after raising more than $70,000, the facility was made new again. The towers were rebuilt, a solid foundation installed, the façade repaired and the electricity brought up to current standards. To top off the renovation project, the Central Park Bandshell was given a fresh coat of paint.
Today, the Orion Central Park Bandshell is on the National Register of Historic Places and is home to a new 25-member Orion Community Band, which will perform at the press conference.
Quinn was joined at the press conference by Orion Mayor Bill Larkins, Representative Mike Boland (D- East Moline), Main Street Board President Ron Saunders, Main Street Program Manager Diane Welborn, as well as Main Street businesses and volunteers. Following the press conference, Quinn took a tour of the historical downtown district of Orion.
The Lt. Governor’s Office administers the Illinois Main Street Program which is based on a national model that offers communities help with downtown improvements, historic preservation and economic development.
Quinn called Main Street an "innovative partnership" and has assigned several staff to be involved with Illinois Main Street. His trip to Orion is just one of many visits planned to Main Street communities. Quinn said he hopes to visit all 57 Illinois Main Street communities during the next 12 months.
The national Main Street Program is designed to improve all aspects of the downtown or central business district. Improving economic management, strengthening public participation, and making downtown a fun place to visit are as critical to Main Street's future as recruiting new businesses, rehabilitating buildings, and expanding parking.