Vasa Park in South Elgin needs the public’s help

Vasa Park, a South Elgin mainstay for more than six decades, needs a few repairs, and the foundation that runs it hopes the public will help.

The park, whose mission is to promote Scandinavian culture, is private but open to the public for annual events like Midsommar Festival in June and a September fish boil. It’s rented for the annual World of Faeries Festival in August, and for weddings and other events.

Amber Dawn Chesley, chairwoman of the park’s growth and development committee, said the pavilion roof needs to be replaced and the caretakers’ house needs repairs, which would cost about $15,000 each. A new deck accessible to people with disabilities would cost about $5,000, she said.

So far, a GoFundMe page has raised $575 in about three months, but the group has been fundraising in other ways, Chesley said.

Promoting Scandinavian culture is not an easy proposition these days, she said, but she’s confident the money will be raised over time. “The culture seems to be disappearing, even if there’s so many Scandinavians out there,” she said.

So why should the public contribute money to a private park?

Because people love it when they visit, said Park Board President Tom Cleveland of Sycamore.

“It’s right on the Fox River, there are the oak trees, wide open spaces,” he said. “The park is open to anybody for rentals, and when people come and see it, they say, ‘I’d love to keep this up.'”

Chesley, who lives in Lisle, agreed. “I grew up going to this park. That was my quiet place,” she said.

Vasa Park dates to 1953, when it comprised 50 acres and was bought by a group of people who wanted to promote Swedish culture. It was incorporated in 2003 as a nonprofit under Scandinavian Park, Inc., whose board includes representatives of all five Nordic countries.

Catherine Dinicolo and her husband, Frank, have lived at the park 17 years and take care of the…

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