Grading work is now complete on the bluff. Native seeds and plants have been installed on the bluff; these deeply rooted plants will help in the re-establishment of the bluff’s native plant communities in the three grading zones. Additionally, a buffer of native seed was installed along the top of the bluff, and grass seed was installed in the upper park. This area will remain fenced off to allow the plants to establish.

For more information, contact Liz Ricketts, Natural Areas Manager, at

The 2023 Champions Gala is March 15, at Studio One, in Highland Park. There are so many great reasons for you to be there and support the Foundation, but the special presentation of this year’s Legacy Award is something you truly don’t want to miss.

If you were one of the hundreds of kids who were learning to play baseball or basketball under Coach Baker, he knew your name. And he remembered it when you grew up, got married, and brought your kids to play on the teams he was coaching. Long before psychologists studied the effects of that, Marv Baker knew exactly how important it was to each and every student and young athlete he taught. It was a sign of respect. An indication of how much he cared for you as a person. You called him Mr. Baker. Or Coach Baker. “It was a real milestone in your life when you were an adult, and could call him Marv,” said his son, Doug. And as the ultimate sign of respect for their coach, everyone who played in his baseball and basketball leagues—and their parents—called it BakerBall.

Everyone was welcome to play BakerBall. That was one of the joys, and part of the experience that made being around Marv so memorable. His approach to teaching youth sports was inclusive and impartial. The best local athletes and kids with special needs were on the same team, and they all learned much more than how to play the game. Of course, they were drilled on the fundamentals—the game isn’t fun for anyone without knowing the rules and having some skills. But coach taught that it wasn’t about the scoreboard or the won-loss record. When they learned how to back up the throw, they were becoming team players. And when they learned how to not be afraid of failure they took that lesson into adulthood, taught it to their kids, and became successful business leaders.

BakerBall kids grew into high school athletes, and they returned year after year to work with Marv coaching the next generation of young players. Some of them now manage the programs they started in, teaching what they were taught: love the game; be humble in victory; learn how to lose gracefully. Coach Baker was ahead of his time in making sure that parents and fans behaved properly at games as well. He insisted on only positive cheering, and would stop a game if necessary to toss a belligerent parent out of the park. “He was kind of a big guy, having been an offensive lineman in college,” said Doug, “so there was typically not much pushback!”

Marv Baker grew up in DeKalb, and early on knew that youth sports education was his passion.

He was a 3-letter varsity athlete—baseball, basketball, and football—and attended Northern Illinois University on a football scholarship. He began his teaching career in Highwood, at Oak Terrace Elementary School, while raising a family. That’s when he started the BakerBall youth leagues and began to instill his philosophy of the game in the area’s young players. “Parents respected my dad,” says his daughter Patti, “and knew instinctively that their kids were in good hands. They also chose his programs because of their inclusivity.”

Marv instilled a love of sports in his children as well as his grandchildren. While his oldest daughter, Susie, played softball, she did not play BakerBall. “At that time, I would have been the first girl in the program, and he didn’t want to put me in that awkward position of being included because I was the coach’s daughter,” she said. A few years later, when Patti was old enough, she did play in the program, since girls were now included.  “He showed no mercy,” Patti remembers, “when I hit a hard line drive, he caught it just like any other!” Later, Susie’s two children, Nick and Sami, and Patti’s two children, Sophia and Anthony, all played BakerBall under their #1 Papa. Henry, Doug’s son, is just 3 years old, but BakerBall is waiting.

Susie, Patti, and Doug all replayed a similar memory: not fully appreciating the impact their dad had on the community—both the kids and their parents—until they were a little older. “My dad always rode his bike everywhere,” said Patti, and one day in high school another kid opened a window and yelled out ‘Hi Mr. Baker!’. That’s when I figured out that everyone knew him.” When Susie went to U of I, and told people where she was from, “They would ask if Mr. Baker was my dad. That was pretty amazing.”

Marv was, above all, a family man. A loving husband to two wives, Beverly for 5-1/2 years and Sue for 51 years. “He would always tell me how lucky he was to have found two loves of his life,” said Susie. As a father, and a grandfather, he never missed a school concert or an open house, or, of course, a game. Whether it was soccer, baseball, softball, volleyball, or football, he was there in what must have been his favorite role, #1 Papa.

Coach retired from his job as a Physical Education teacher in 2005, after a 40-year career. He coached his last BakerBall players in the summer of 2009. When he and Sue moved to Sedgebrook, in Lincolnshire, in 2017, it was no surprise that there were people there—parents and grandparents of his former players—who knew him. Of course they did!

Marv succumbed to the ravages of ALS on April 1, 2022. “The irony of it being April Fool’s Day was not lost on those who knew his big sense of humor,” said Doug. On Wednesday, March 15, at the Parks Foundation of Highland Park’s 5th Annual Champions Gala, the community that is so much better for having known him and loved him, will say ‘Thanks, Coach’ one more time as the family is presented with Foundation’s Legacy Award. A fitting tribute to a man whose legacy lives on every day, all over the country, in everyone he included in his incredible life.


Purchase your tickets for the 2023 Champions Gala today, and join us on March 15 to enjoy this glamorous evening! You’ll enjoy signature cocktails from the open bar, delicious hors d’oeuvres, an exciting game of chance to win up to $100,000, and of course hear our featured guest: Chicago Blackhawk’s legend Chris Chelios. The live auction will feature fabulous trips, dining experiences, one-of-a-kind items, and memorabilia. Sponsorships are still available.

The Parks Foundation of Highland Park has received a grant from the Highland Park Community Foundation. These funds will support the Park Foundation’s “Foundation For Youth” (FYI) Scholarship Program. FYI offers Highwood residents of lesser financial means the opportunity to participate in recreational programs, including swimming lessons and summer camps.

Though the Highwood families attend the same schools as Highland Park residents, Highwood is not within the tax-body bounds of the Park District of Highland Park, and residents cannot take advantage of the Park District’s resident scholarship program.  Highwood also does not have a park district, and the City of Highwood offers limited recreational programs for residents. 

The Park’s Foundation FYI Scholarship Program was introduced in 2019 and currently funds approximately 100 learn-to-swim lessons for low-income Highwood children. FYI summer camp scholarships were also made available to Highwood residents with financial constraints during the COVID-19 pandemic. For families facing increased financial hardship due to the pandemic, recreational activities are often the first expenses cut out of a household budget. At the same time, outlets for exercise and enrichment are more critical than ever in promoting physical, social, and emotional health. Further, the need for greater equity and inclusiveness motivates a primary organizational goal of the Parks Foundation to boost funding so that more Highwood residents may enjoy access to Park District programs. The FYI Scholarship program reaches low-income preschool and school-aged children, predominantly Latino Highwood residents.

“The Parks Foundation is grateful for the Highland Park Community Foundation’s generous support for our FYI Scholarship program. Highwood is an important part of our community – our children go to school together,” says Rafael Labrador, the Parks Foundation Board of Directors president. “FYI helps level the playing field for Highwood families.”

About the Parks Foundation of Highland Park: The Parks Foundation of Highland Park is an independent, community-led, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 2016 to support access to the world-class Park District programs and facilities that enhance community life in Highland Park. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants and donations that help keep taxes and program fees in check and bridge the gap between public resources and the funding needed to maintain our vibrant park system. We are committed to providing the resources for everyone in our community to participate in a wide variety of Park District offerings. Scholarship funds raised by the Foundation have allowed Highland Park/Highwood residents of all ages to enjoy athletic and recreational programs and summer camps. In cooperation with government entities, private enterprises, nonprofit partner organizations, and local families, we enrich current and future generations by supporting the open space and recreational programs that bring our community together. For more information and to donate, visit

About Highland Park Community Foundation: The Highland Park Community Foundation was established in 1992 at the request of the City of Highland Park to build and maintain a permanent endowment fund. As the philanthropic heart of the community, the HPCF improves and enriches people’s lives with annual grants to nonprofits that provide educational, human service, and cultural programs for Highland Park and Highwood residents. The Foundation’s avowed purposes are to expand opportunities and address the unmet needs of the community – needs that are not met by governmental or other sources.

The Highland Park Community Foundation annually awards grants though a competitive application and review process. For more information, visit

parks foundation logo

The National Parks & Recreation Association (NRPA) and The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation have awarded the Park District of Highland Park a $600 pack of supplies to help the Park District establish additional pollinator habitats at The Preserve of Highland Park. The award is part of NRPA & Scotts “Parks for Pollinators” national campaign to raise public awareness of the pollinator crisis and encourage local action through public parks and recreation.

As participants in the campaign, Park District staff and volunteers successfully documented a variety of pollinators throughout September at The Preserve. They demonstrated the significance of the newly created habitat at The Preserve and all of the pollinators it supports.

Findings included:

“This information will help us understand how we can better protect pollinators and other important wildlife in our community,” said Elizabeth Ricketts, Natural Areas Program Volunteer Coordinator. Learn more about The Preserve of Highland Park.

In support of the Highland Park community that has been through so much this past summer, the Wadsworth Golf Charities Foundation is underwriting a full day of golf for Highland Park residents at the Sunset Valley Golf Club on Wednesday, October 12.

Includes an 18-hole round and a golf cart (carts are limited and available on a first-come basis).

Book your tee time now.
Click the Wadsworth Golf Outing button.
(Please show your ID at check-in)

Crews are removing the flagstone path and retaining walls and began stabilization work at the toe of the slope. The boardwalk sections are being fabricated offsite. Additional equipment and materials will be delivered over the next several days. Once received, on-site work will resume.

Learn more about the project.

Work continues to remove the existing barge breakwater in preparation for the installation of the new breakwater and boat ramp.

About the Project

At the April 27 meeting, the Park Board approved construction of Phase 1 of the Park Avenue Breakwater Project in the amount of $2,221,890.  The base scope of this project includes removal of the existing barge breakwater and boat ramp, stockpiling and salvaging existing breakwater fill and armor stone, construction of a new steel sheet pile breakwater with a concrete crown wall and construction of a new concrete boat launch.   Funding for the project includes $2,000,000 from the Park District’s capital fund and $400,000 from the Parks Foundation of Highland Park, made possible from community donations. Construction began as scheduled on Sept 6, 2022. Learn more.

Demolition of the rink floor and concrete trench have been completed. Installation of under-floor drainage will begin soon.

About the Project

Centennial Ice Arena is temporarily closed, and ice programs will not be offered in Fall 2022 due to an unexpected and necessary replacement of the rink floor. 

An unknown issue was uncovered on the rink floor during our regular annual maintenance in June. Since then, the Park District has acted swiftly to conduct an exhaustive investigation of the facility and ice flooring system with an engineering firm. The findings confirmed that the building is structurally sound. However, the rink floor has been compromised and will require complete replacement.   Learn more.

We are batty for Halloween and have a spooktacular lineup of fun events for you and your family.

Highland Park Hauntings(Fri., Oct 21, 5:30-8pm, Larry Fink Memorial Park) Kick off the season with a frightful walk along our haunted trail. Look out for spots along the way for Halloween treats to calm your nerves. This spooky event includes live characters, moving props, and spooky music. Fee: $20/$25 per person (resident/non-resident). Learn more & register.

Drive-in Movie: Hocus Pocus(Thu., Oct 27, 7:30-10:30pm, Recreation Center of HP Parking Lot) Amok! Amok! Amok! Hop in the car and cruise on over for this classic Halloween movie. Fee: $30/car. Learn more & register.

Scary Miniature Golf(Sat., Oct 29, 8am – 5pm, River’s Edge Mini Golf) Wear your costume and receive a free round of miniature golf! Learn More.

West Ridge Trunk or Treat – (Mon., Oct 31, 10:30 – 11:45pm, West Ridge Center) Welcome all little ghosts, superheroes, pop stars and professionals! Our preschool trunk or treat will take place in the West Ridge Parking lot and lots of goodies will be shared! Fee: $2 Learn more & register.

April 4, 2023 Consolidated Election Petition Packets

The Park District of Highland Park has petition packets for one open Park Board Commissioner seat (6-year term) for the April 4, 2023, Consolidated Election. Those interested in running for a Park District of Highland Park Commissioner seat must be a registered voter and have been a resident of Highland Park for at least one year prior to the election. Please review the Election Calendar here

To download the petition packet, please click here.

If you wish to have the petition packet mailed to your home or schedule an appointment for pick-up, please contact Roxanne Hejnowski, Executive Coordinator, at 847.579.3190 or  

Circulation Period / September 20, 2022 – December 19, 2022

The circulation period for the Consolidated Election on April 4, 2023, will be open until December 19, 2022.

Filing Period for Petition Packets / December 12 – December 19, 2022

The filing period for petition packets is December 12 – December 19, 2022. Petition packets must be hand-delivered to the Executive Coordinator at the West Ridge Center Administrative Office, 636 Ridge Road, Highland Park, IL 60035, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. No petitioner packets will be accepted before or after the stated dates and times. The Park District of Highland Park staff cannot provide any election or legal advice for any petitioners. Petitioners are encouraged to contact the Lake County Clerk’s Office.

Election Cycle

Consolidated Election

Voter Registration Locations for the Consolidated Election
City Hall, 1707 St. Johns Ave.
Weekdays from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Moraine Township Office, 800 Central Avenue
Weekdays from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM

West Deerfield Township, 601 Deerfield Road
Weekdays from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM

Voter Eligibility 
You may register to vote if: 

Note: You must register again if your name or permanent address has changed. Voter registration requires two forms of identification, including one with a current address (new residents may use a utility bill, checkbook, etc.).