Chillicothe Optimist Club



25 Years of Youth Involvement

By Marian Crull

In the spring of 1985, a group of dedicated men interested in helping to promote optimism in the community, encourage the development of youth, and with the belief that the giving of one’s self in service to others will advance the well-being of man, his community and world, formed the Chillicothe Optimist Club.

This Club was chartered on May 25, 1985 with forty-three members, with Charter President being Harry Crull. The membership was a mix of business owners, employees, and retired men, all with the thoughts of working for the youth of the area and their community. This Club is part of the Illinois District, which has fifty-seven clubs throughout the state and is affiliated with Optimist International. At the Optimist International Convention in July 1987, members voted to allow women to join local clubs. Marian Crull was the first to join our local club.

Chillicothe Optimist Club has sponsored many activities for youth over the years, such as various Little League programs for both boys and girls, Chilli Dawgs Wrestling Club, Hockey Club, local Boy Scout Troops, IVC Wellness Program, Junior World of Golf, Respect for Law, Youth Appreciation Awards, IVC Quest Program, Student Optimist of the Year award, annual “Friend of Youth” Award, Project Graduation, Chillicothe Summer Theatre, Hair Company Kids Dance Troupe, Crossword Café, IVC Band, Toys for Tots activity, annual Easter Egg Hunt, Elementary School Anti-Drug Poster Contests, Chillicothe Public Library Summer Reading Program, among many others.

All funds are raised by the Club through the annual spring “River Run for Wellness” 5 K Run, Flag donations, Dining Club Book sales, Annual Art Show and many such projects held throughout the year, with all monies remaining in Chillicothe, Rome and Mossville to support our local youth groups, schools, and community.

At present, Club membership stands at over sixty members. The Chillicothe Optimist Club meets the first and third Saturday mornings at 8 a.m. for breakfast meetings at Grecian Gardens Restaurant. As always, we are appreciative of our community in helping support our efforts to raise over $200,000, through the years, for our kids. We are dedicated to being a “Friend of Youth.”

A Timeline of the Chillicothe Optimist Club of Chillicothe

and Activities held over the first 25 years

The Beginning of the Club:

May 22, 1985

– The Chillicothe Optimist Club was officially organized with 40 men as Charter Members. The Club was sponsored by The Noon Optimist Club of Peoria

May 25, 1985

– The Chillicothe Optimist Club was affiliated with Optimist International and the Illinois District. We will be operating under the slogan “Friend of Youth.”

July 13, 1985

– The Chillicothe Optimist Club held its Charter Banquet at Arrowhead County Club with approximately 100 in attendance.

Fundraisers and Activities:

Aug. 1985

– Worked the concession stand at the air show.

– Held a Bicycle Safety Clinic for kids and adults at Shore Acres Park. This program was held for several years.

Nov. 1985

– Installed new Optimist Club Signs at the north and south entrances to Chillicothe.

– Had entries in the Santa Parade to advertise our club and our motto.

Apr. 1986

– Held a pancake and sausage breakfast at Shore Acres Club House.

– Held a Zone Oratorical Contest for high school kids.

– Bicycle Safety Program at Shore Acres for kids and their parents.

May 1986

– Had a butterfly pork chop and brats stand at Claud Elen Days.

– Held our 1st Annual Respect for Law program honoring several local citizens for their efforts to assist the Chillicothe Police. The Respect for Law Program was held for quite a few years.

June 1986

– Had our 1st Junior Golf tournament at Arrowhead Country Club.

– Had a social outing for club members and spouses at Lacon Country Club. Golf and a steak cook out dinner was enjoyed by 28 hungry people.

July 1986

– A pork sandwich food tent was manned at the Old Time 4thcelebration.

Aug. 1986

– Several members painted game boards on the paved surface at Chillicothe Elementary School.

Sept. 1986

– The Chillicothe Lions Club held their 1st Annual Mr. Chillicothe Contest. Two of our club members: Irv Latta and Harry Crull participated. They did not win, but sure had fun.

Oct. 1986

– Some club members participated in a “Celebrity” basketball game fund raiser.

July 1987

– The Optimist International Convention was held and members voted to allow women to join the local Optimist Clubs for the first time.

Aug. 1987

– Marian Crull was the 1st woman to join the Chillicothe Optimist Club, and also the 1st in the Illinois District to join the ranks. Loretta Davis joined in October 1987 and the rest is history!

Sept. 1987

– Had a boneless rib sandwich stand for fundraiser at the Chillicothe Days Celebration.

Oct. 1987

– Marian Crull took over the duties of Optimist Bulletin Editor.

Nov. 1987

– Chillicothe Optimist Club and Constable Camera (Gary Fyke) sponsored a “Picture Your Child with Santa” fundraiser. We took over 40 pictures and made $75.00.

– The Chillicothe Optimist Club voted to “Adopt” the IVC Support Group – (The positive growth of Chillicothe Area Youth). We donated $500.00 to help finance the group’s “Life Saver Weekend Retreat” on Nov. 20-22, 1987. Mrs. Margaurite Admire, Chairman, Brian Cluskey, Billy Galindo and Mike Hutchings were some of the Adult Leaders. This program was continued for several years at IVC.

Apr. 1988

– Bob DeFoe, Club Member, resigned as Secretary-Treasurer of our club. Marian Crull was appointed to take over these duties and held these offices for 10 years.

June 1988

– Sponsored 2 IVC students to the International Teen Institute. We sponsored students for several years.

– Our “Meeting Place Plaque” was hung for the 1st time.

Sept. 1988

– During Chillicothe Days (9th – 11th) we manned our food tent and also held a large community auction as a new fund raiser. Net profit was $2,757.56.

– Second Annual Golf Outing – Steak Fry Dinner as a social event for club members and spouses was held at Lacon Country Club.

Oct. 1988

– We helped organize the First Annual Red Ribbon Rally in Chillicothe along with the IVC School District and the Wellness Committee. We all wore red ribbons with “The Choice For Me, Drug Free.” We supported and participated in this program for several years.

Nov. 1988

– Held our 1st Annual Optimist/St. Francis 5K Race and 1 Mile Walk. We discontinued this race in 1998 as we could never depend on the weather.

– We held our 1st Annual Youth Appreciation Awards Program which continues thru today.

April 1989

– We established the 1st Annual “Student Optimist of the Year Award” to be given to a senior student who has met a criteria of our club. This award continues thru today. Eric Mercer was our 1st winner, receiving a $50.00 U.S. Savings Bond and a bronze plaque of the Optimist Creed.

June 1989

– After several club members helped with the Valley Community YMCA’s River run for 2-3 years, we took over the race as a fund raiser for our club. This race was started in 1980 by the YMCA and we have continued this race thru the present time. Our main sponsor is Proctor Hospital.

July 1989

– The Optimist International Convention was held in Indianapolis and was attended by Harry & Marian Crull. Harry attended the Lieutenant Governor-Elect training session as he served as Lieutenant Governor for our zone during 1989-90.

– Club vests were ordered by many of the members to be worn at fund raisers and other club functions.

Sept. 1989

– Chillicothe Days – our club held a raffle, a community auction and manned a food trailer for the 2nd year and decided this was the last for this event (too many other events in the area).

Oct. 1989

– Landscaping around the north “Welcome to Chillicothe” sign was completed. A rock garden with 9 briar berry bushes was installed by 9 club members and volunteers.

Dec. 1989

– Club members volunteered to help paint, repair, or whatever needs to be done to help renovate Pearce Community Center. The work was done in March 1990.

– The Christmas Lighting Contest was held in Chillicothe, sponsored by our club and the Chillicothe Bulletin. It was a huge success for the second year. Our club furnished $200.00 of the $300.00 given as prizes.

– Our club received “Honor Club” status for the 1st time for year 1988-1989.

Mar. 1990

– Two students from the Chillicothe Alternative School participated in our Oratorical Contest.

Apr. 1990

– A check for $704.45 was presented to Shellie Frost, a freshman teacher of Health and First Aid at IVC for a second mannequin to be used in her class. The club will retain ownership and the Board named her “Optimist Annie” or “Optimist Arne” as some thought it looked more like a male.

– Donated $100.00 to Project Graduation for the 1st time and we continue this practice through present time.

May 1990

– A “Respect for Law” banquet was held at Pearce Community Center for the entire Chillicothe Police Department and their spouses. Over 100 were in attendance. Peoria County Sheriff, George Shadid and his wife were also our guests. Sheriff Shadid arranged for police protection for Chillicothe during our banquet.

June 1990

– We held our 1st Flag Giveaway at Kroger and the banks for donations. This program brings in $800.00 to at least $1,000.00 each year and it continues to present time.

– One June 23rd, we held a pot luck dinner at Harry & Marian Crull’s home to celebrate our 5th Anniversary of our Optimist Club.

– We had a booth at the “Come Live With Us” Home Show at Pearce Community Center to promote our club.

Sept. 1991

– Prepared a Spaghetti Dinner at the IVC High School kitchen to serve to the voyageurs who were camped at Shore Acres Park for several days. They shared with everyone the importance of our heritage on the Illinois River.

– Many of our club members took a tour of the St. Jude’s Midwest Affiliate at Methodist Medical Center. We were given the tour by Marsha Swardenski, the Executive Director of St. Jude’s Midwest Affiliate. We learned a lot about pediatric cancer. There weren’t any patients there on weekends.

Nov. 1991

– Donated $1,000.00 to Dan Dietrich, Director of the IVC Marching Band at IVC.

Mar. 1992

– Donated money for uniforms and also served lunch for IVC Marching Band at IVC.

June 1992

– We held a kiddie parade for the enjoyment of many children.

Aug. 1992

– We held a cookout/swimming party at Arrowhead Country Club for the two Little League teams (and their families) that we sponsored.

Sept. 1992

– We had an Optimist Club Food test for 3 days at Three Sisters Park, for the Civil War re-enactment during Chillicothe Days.

– At our Installation of Officers Banquet, we presented our 1st Annual “Friend of Youth” Award to Susan Gooddale. Susan is the coordinator of the Q.U.E.S.T. Program and also is the Principal of the Rome School. She has been involved in education for 26 years. Josh Taylor was our speaker for the evening.

Nov. 1992

– A Proclamation was issued by Mayor Irvin Latta proclaiming the 3rdweek of November as “Youth Appreciation Week” in Chillicothe.

April 1993

– Respect for Law Dinner was held at Dock Side Restaurant, sponsored by our club, several other organizations and the City of Chillicothe. We honored retiring Police Officer Bob Munk. A plaque and pin were presented to Bob who had served our town for many years.

May 1993

– We entered our float in the Claud-Elen Days Parade. Our float entitled “Children Are the Flowers of our Lives” won 1st place. A check for $200.00 was received.

June 1993

– Held another entertaining Kiddie Parade during the River Road Days.

Aug 1993

– Held our 2nd cookout/swimming party at Arrowhead for the Little League.

Sept. 1993

– Presented our 2nd Annual “Friend of Youth” Award to Chillicothe Police Officer Rick Mark who is the D.A.R.E. Officer for area schools.

Dec. 1993

– Our Optimist Club took over the program of providing “Gifts for Youth” to be distributed with the food baskets given by the Community Needs Agency. The Kiwanis Club had previously taken care of this program but their club had folded.

April 1994

– Our club helped the Chillicothe Chamber of Commerce put on the Easter Egg Hunt in the City Park for many children.

May 1994

– Respect for Law speaker was the Honorable Judge Michael McCuskey. He spoke on “The Current State of Criminal Justice as it Affects the Youth of Illinois”. Judge McCuskey is an alumni of Sparland High School.

– We had 259 entries in the 14th Annual 5K Run & Walk for Wellness River Run.

– Summer Theatre Group was formed and the musical “Bye Bye Birdie” was chosen for the first production. Our club helped Craig Miller, the President of the group, an IVC graduate, with the initial funds of $1,200.00, for the rights to perform this musical. The Summer Theatre continues to be an important part of the community activities for Chillicothe.

June 1994

– We had a drink and snack stand at Pearce Community Center’s Cruise-In for Wellness.

July 1994

– “Bye Bye Birdie” was presented to the Chillicothe community to a packed house for all three nights of production. Our club took care of the concession stand for several years before we turned that over to other groups so that they could also raise money for their projects.

Sept. 1994

– At our Installation of Officers Banquet we presented Chuck Flagg with our 3rd Annual “Friend of Youth” Award for his work with the Boy Scouts and through his teaching Art at IVC. A special award was presented to Craig Miller for his efforts in starting the Chillicothe Summer Theatre. Jerry Anderson received the “Optimist of the Year” Award from President Mike Mahoney.

Nov. 1994

– Our club and Pearce Community Center worked together to prepare a float for the Santa Parade. The “Gift Giving Tree” was the main theme.

Mar. 1995

– Our club sponsored and chaperoned a St. Patrick’s Day Dance for 149 5th, 6th and 7th graders at Pearce Community Center. Entertainment included a D.J., a magician, dancing, snacks and door prizes.

July 1995

– Our club co-sponsored the 2nd annual “Chilli Cruise-In” at Pearce. This was an all day event with all proceeds going to Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities of Central Illinois.

– Many of our club members and families attended “Optimist Night with the Chiefs” – free tickets provided with donations from six area Optimist Clubs. Each club, including ours, donated $175.00.

– Our club celebrated 10 years of serving the Youth of Chillicothe by having a picnic in the backyard of Dennis and Kathy McLaughlin’s home. Over 40 were in attendance, which included members of the Peoria Noon Club, which was our sponsor when our club was formed 10 years ago.

Sept. 1995

– Many of our club members helped dismantle and remove the playground equipment from the former North School *(now the Chillicothe Bible Church). Our plan was to reinstall this equipment at Shore Acres Park but current rules and regulations on used equipment prevented us from completing this project.

– Max Bundy received our 4th Annual “Friend of Youth” Award for his dedication to Children through his work in the Little League and Basketball Programs. Marian Crull received the 2nd Annual President’s Appreciation Award.

Oct. 1995

– Our Optimist Club took care of the children’s program during the 1st Quarter District Meeting held at the Hotel Pere Marquette in Peoria. The child care was for 4 years and up, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and again from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. They enjoyed rolls and juice and then a trip to Pearce Community Center for swimming, basketball, games and crafts as well as lunch. The evening consisted of a pizza party and a movie. It was a fun day for all.

Nov. 1995

– An article about our club was written for the new Chillicothe Historical book put out by the Chillicothe Historical Society.

Jan. 1996

– The Chillicothe Optimist Club was the 1st Service Organization to join the Chillicothe Chamber of Commerce and has remained a member to present time.

Feb. 1996

– Many of our club members provided Wednesday evening dinners to Irv and Mary Latta’s family for several months after their home burned earlier that month.

April 1996

– As a community service for the children, we served coffee, hot chocolate and rolls during the Arbor Day program held at Three Sisters Park.

June 1996

– The Summer Theatre presented “Grammercy Ghost” in June and “Fiddler on the Roof” in August. Our club handled the concession stand for both plays.

Sept. 1996

– Gail Quinn was presented with our 5th Annual “Friend of Youth” Award for her work and dedication to the IVC Band Boosters.

Oct. 1996

– Our club donated $500.00 to the Chillicothe Park District along with a $1,000.00 donation from McDonald’s Children’s charities and sand from Galena Road Gravel to complete the new playground project on the north side of the park.

Jan. 1997

– Chillicothe Optimist Club was an Honor Club during the 1995-06 club year. This was recognized at the 2nd Quarter Meeting in the Illinois District.

May 1997

– There were 265 entries in the 17th Annual 5K River Run for Wellness.

July 1997

– The 3rd Annual Chilli Fest was held sponsored by the Chillicothe Chamber. Our club sponsored a free Bicycle Safety Program in Cutright Park, we also coordinated the Fun-Zee Olympic Games. The unconventional “Olympic” games included boxing (building a tower with boxes), fencing (building a fence), field-hockey (tossing a cow-chip for distance), and a 3K Run, where three people with the letter “K” in their alias run a short distance while tied together. Entry fee was $1.00 each per child.

Aug. 1997

– Chillicothe Summer Theatre presented “Music Man” and our club manned the concession stand making a profit of about $500.00.

Sept. 1997

– The Kelly-Miller Circus came to town sponsored by the Chillicothe Optimist Club and the Chillicothe Lions Club. The profits were split between our two clubs.

Apr. 1998

– A large group of our club members and spouses attended a Dinner/Play in Henry, IL as a social event. We enjoyed the play “Fiddler on the Roof” put on by the River Valley Players.

Aug. 1998

– The first annual Decoy and Outdoor Collectible Show was held at Three Sisters Park, co-sponsored by the Chillicothe Chamber of Commerce and our club.

Nov. 1998

– Pearce Computer Lab Open House was held for the public. Our club donated $1,200.00 for their teacher’s station and our club members were encouraged to attend. A large group did.

Apr. 1999

– The Teacher’s Station was purchased and installed in the computer lab. A large bronze plaque of the Optimist Creed was also donated to be hung in the Computer Lab. Optimist Club members were present for the dedication and to try out the computers.

May 1999

– 252 runners and walkers participated in the 9th Annual River run for Wellness

Aug. 1999

– The 2nd Annual Chillicothe Decoy and Outdoor Collectible Show was held at Three sisters Park sponsored only by the Chillicothe Optimist Club.

– Chillicothe Summer Theatre presented “The Wizard of Oz” and the concessions were handled by the Optimist Club.

Oct. 1999

– Bette Gibbs, a kindergarten teacher for 42 years at Chillicothe was our 8th Annual “Friend of Youth” award winner at the Installation of Officers Banquet at Three Sisters Park.

– Spider Hill Halloween attraction opened at Three Sisters Park. Our club was co-sponsor of this month long event held each weekend in October. Our first year attendance was 8,000 and our share of the profit was over $18,000.00, which was given back to youth programs through mini grants.

Mar. 2000

– In February, Kim Ulhig (club member) submitted our Spider Hill Project for the Governor’s Home Town Award. We were one of the Finalists and the Judges came to Three Sisters Park to judge “Spider Hill”. A large group of our club members were on hand to answer questions and support this project.

May 2000

– Our club donated $500.00 for the bike rack located on the west end of the Downtown River Corridor.

June 2000

– Club President Gary Fyke threw out the Ceremonial first pitch at the Pekin Lettes Major Fast-Pitch Softball game as they hosted “Chillicothe Night”.

– Seventeen area residents (8 Optimist Club Members) traveled to Springfield, IL, to receive our plaque for 2nd place in the Governor’s Home Town Award. Our award was for Spider Hill, a Halloween event co-sponsored by Three Sisters Park and the Chillicothe Optimist Club.

Sept. 2000

– A donation was made to Pearce Community Center for use to support youth dances for grades 5 through 8. The dances are held once a month.

– Brad Briggs received our 9th annual “Friend of Youth” award for his extensive involvement in Scouting in the Chillicothe Area during our Installation of Officers Banquet and program.

Nov. 2000

– Our club entered a car entry in the Santa Parade and we also had a float thanking the community volunteers who helped us put on Spider Hill.

Dec. 2000

– About 18 club members volunteered to Ring the Bell for the Salvation Army Red Kettle on Saturday, December 9th at the Kroger store. Our donation of time raised $341.00.

– We received a thank you note and an 8×10 picture of the IVC Marching Band in front of the U.S.S. Missouri while on their Band Trip. We had donated $1,000.00 for their trip.

– We helped the Community Needs Agency with the filling of 120 food baskets and the distribution of toys for the kids.

Jan. 2001

– We held out annual Christmas party for our Club members with a breakfast (prepared by several club member ladies) and a white elephant gift exchange for fun. After the breakfast party we set up for our 2nd Annual Spider Hill Thank You Party that was held later in the evening. About 150 people attended the Thank You party co-hosted by the Chillicothe Optimist Club and Three Sisters Park. Lots of food, pizza, music for dancing, and karaoke was enjoyed by the adults and kids. Everyone also received thank you gifts.

– A contest was held for the name of our monthly newsletters, and Dick Howarth was the winner with “Optimistically Speaking.”

– Information was sent out for local youth groups to apply to our club for mini grants for funds for their youth programs. This was the 2nd year we had funds available from Spider Hill to disperse back into the community. Thirteen grant applications were received.

– New club polo shirts were ordered from Parr Silkscreen. Many club members ordered shirts with our without a pocket and in various colors.

Feb. 2001

– The 2nd Quarter District Meeting was held in Glenview, IL. Lt. Gary Fyke and Harry and Marian Crull attended. We were asked in advance to talk about Spider Hill in the Fund Raising Session at the meeting. We took scrapbooks, flyers for Spider Hill and Three Sisters Park, and several posters for Show and Tell. The attendees were very interested in our presentation and asked many questions.

– Plans were made for our 4th Social Event to attend the River Valley Player’s Dinner Theatre in Henry, IL. The play is “Forty Second Street” to be presented in April. Two of our local high school students will sing and dance in the show.

Mar. 2001

– One of our local high school girls (Jamie Yarger) was killed in a tragic car accident. As a club, we were asked to help furnish food for the funeral luncheon. Thirty five club members donated covered dishes, desserts and $129.25 (for the family).

– Seventeen club members attended the Youth Dance at Pearce at their invitation so they could express their thanks for our donation last fall for lighting, music, etc. The evening was enjoyable.

April 2001

– We presented ten checks totaling $15,500.00 from the Spider Hill profits to the grant applicants who were chosen.

– The Drug Prevention Poster Contest was held for 3rd, 4th and 5thgrade school students. The winning posters by a boy and a girl will be taken to the District Meeting in May to be judged with the others from around the state.

– The Easter Egg Hunt was moved to Three Sisters Park this year. Games, face painting and story telling were some of the activities planned. We also spend $135.00 for a new and larger Easter Bunny costume.

– We sponsored a boys team for the Chillicothe Summer Youth Program.

May 2001

– Starting in May, Spider Hill work nights were set up for every Thursday evening all summer. Two volunteers from our club will furnish a light supper at 6:00 p.m. each evening.

– Respect for Law Week was observed at our club meeting by three of our club members – Attorneys Chris Cassidy, Mike Mahoney and Police Officer Gary Fyke. This program is an annual Optimist International program to be held each year in May.

– The 21st Spring Run for Wellness was held in spite of the rain, with over 215 runners. Steve Wilson, Director of Marketing at Proctor Hospital was on hand to pass out the trophies. He was also responsible for getting a $2,500.00 donation for our club each year.

– May 23rd, IVC Senior Honors Night was held at IVC. President Marian Crull presented the Annual Student Optimist of the Year Award to two seniors this year as there was a tie. Adam Frank and Katie O’Brian were the winners. Each received a check for $100.00 in a graduation card from the club and a copy of our Optimist Creed on a desk plaque.

June 2001

– The Annual Junior Golf Tournament was held at Arrowhead Country Club. About 20 boys and girls were expected to participate from IVC and area schools. A record 33 boys and one girl turned out.

– Dan Donnelly was Chairman of the Annual Flag Day Project.

July 2001

– The July 21st Meeting was held at Crossword Case to view the building and hear of their plans. We had donated $5,000.00 from Spider Hill profits to help them get started.

– We donated funds for the Bicycle Rack that was installed on the west end of the Chillicothe River Corridor Park Walkway.

Aug. 2001

– The 4th Annual Chillicothe Decoy and Wildlife Show was held at Three Sisters Park. We sponsored this show and 270 people attended along with 59 tables reserved by exhibitors.

Sept. 2001

– The Installation of Officers and Directors Banquet was held at Three Sisters Park. Dr. Dave Kinney received our Friend of Youth Award. The 1st Annual Optimist of the Year Award was given to Gary Fyke.

– The Chillicothe Optimist Club purchased the new scoreboard for the Chillicothe Junior Football League’s multi-purpose field at IVC High School. This project was three years in the making and the dedication was held in September 2001.

Oct. 2001

– New President Marilyn DeVoss and Vice President Dick Howarth attended the 1st Quarter District Meeting in Peoria. They learned that the CPA Book that was done on our East Egg Hunt was the winner at the Illinois State level and was sent on to Optimist International for further judging. It did not win at that level. Marian Crull prepared the book.

– This was our 3rd year co-sponsoring Spider Hill. The new storage building/Haunted House has been completed and is ready to be used during our weekend shows this month.

Nov. 2001

– Youth Appreciation Week was observed at our club meeting. Six students from local schools and their parents were our guests for breakfast. They each received an Optimist Coaster, Appreciation Certificate and a $25.00 gift certificate for the Book Emporium.

Dec. 2001

– We rang the bell for the Salvation Army and also took care of the toy program for the Community Needs Agency Food Basket Program for the needy.

– The Optimist Club and the Chillicothe Wrestling Club provided the funds for a new wrestling mat purchased by IVC. A dedication was held on Dec. 11, 2001, at Pack the Gym Night. Some of our club members were on hand for the dedication.

Jan. 2002

– 23 Optimist Club Members enjoyed their annual Christmas Party at Shore Acres with breakfast and a gag gift/white elephant exchange.

Feb. 2002

– Several members of our club attended the 2nd Quarter meeting in Alton, IL. We were presented with several awards that were earned in 2001.

– Our club received an award from the Salvation Army for being the top group raising $426.78, when we rang the bell in December.

– Our share of the Spider Hill Profits was $9,569.00 for 2001.

Mar. 2002

– The Annual Easter Egg Hunt was held at Three Sisters Park. A concession stand was added this year and was a big hit with everyone.

Apr. 2002

– $8200.00 was given out to five organizations through mini grants from our Spider Hill profits.

– Kay Wilson was Chairman of the Poster Contest this year. The topic was “Living with a Drug Free Attitude”.

May 2002

– 165 runners participated in the 22nd Annual River Run for Wellness.

– Harry & Marian Crull received the Pride and Performance award from Dan Dietrich, the IVC Band Director. They were instrumental in helping obtain funds through the Optimist Club for the band program. Also, as owners of Plaza Cleaning Center, they took special care of the uniforms and offered discounts where possible.

June 2002

– The Junior World of Golf Tournament was held.

– The annual Flag Day was observed by giving away small flags and collecting donations for the youth programs at the bank and Kroger.

– Our club entered a team in “Relay for Life,” raising about $800.00.

July 2002

– We lost a very dear friend and active club member, as Judy Childers passed away on July 5th. We hosted a funeral dinner for the family and friends.

Aug. 2002

– The annual Decoy and Collectible Show was held at Three Sisters Park.

Sept. 2002

– The Installation of Officers and Directors Banquet was held and Dick Howarth was installed as our 2002-2003 President.

Oct. 2002

– We had been working all summer long to get Spider Hill ready for the October shows.

Dec. 2002

– Diane Harland and Jane Harrison were co-chairmen of our annual Toy Drive in conjunction with the Community Needs Agency Christmas Basket Giveaway. 127 baskets were filled and 73 went to families with 146 children.

Jan. 2003

– The annual Club Christmas Party was held at the Chillicothe Historical Society.

Apr. 2003

– The Annual Easter Egg Hunt was held at Three Sisters Park with hundreds of children participating.

May 2003

– The Drug Poster Contest was held for all 4th graders at local schools. The theme this year was “The Joy of Being Drug Free”. The two local winning students each won a $50.00 savings bond from Associated Bank in Chillicothe. Trish Westerman-Connor was chairman this year.

– The 23rd Annual 5K River Run for Wellness was held. Many runners turned out for this event.

– Over $16,000.00 was donated back into the community through mini grants provided with our Spider Hill profits.

June 2003

– The Junior World of Golf Tournament was held.

– The Flag Day give away was held.

– Our “Relay for Life” team this year was the “Butt Stompers”. Our goal was to stomp out cigarette smoking. A fun-filled night was enjoyed by all who participated.

Aug. 2003

– The annual Decoy Show was enjoyed by over 250 people.

Sept. 2003

– Our annual Installation of Officers and Directors Banquet was held at Grecian Gardens. The mystery event that was announced was where we had to go in order to present our “Friend of Youth” Award. Many of our members went to Taylor Field at IVC where a football game was being played. At half-time, the IVC Band performed and then we walked onto the track to present Dan Dietrich, the Band Director, with our award. He was very surprised.

– A new project was undertaken, that being offering the Peoria Dining Tour Coupon Books for sale to our members and friends for $30.00 each. Each club member received $5.00 credit toward their dues for each book sold.

Oct. 2003

– Spider Hill was again a huge success and the attendance keeps going up each year. A blood drive was also held the first night.

Dec. 2003

– The toy drive was held again along with the Christmas Basket distribution through the Community Needs Agency.

May 2004

– We held our annual Drug Free Poster Contest. One of our local winners, Bryce Hoover’s poster won at the Illinois District level, earning him $200.00, a 1st place ribbon and certificate. Bryce and Kelsie Seaver, our other local winner, each received a $50.00 savings bond, donated by South Side Bank and Associated Bank.

– The 24th annual River Run for Wellness was held with a good turnout.

June 2004

– The annual Junior Golf Tournament was held.

– The annual Flag Day give away for donations to the Optimist Club Youth Fund was held. Dan Donnelly has been chairman of this program for many years.

Oct. 2004

– The 6th annual Spider Hill was held at Three Sisters Park every Friday and Saturday evening during October.

April 2005

– Our Optimist Club gave out over $23,000.00 in funds raised through Spider Hill and other fund raisers. Twenty-one different youth related groups received various amounts.

May 2005

– The Chillicothe Optimist Club received the 2005 Pride and Performance Award from the IVC High School Band Director, Dan Dietrich. The award is given annually to a person or group which has contributed outstanding support to the IVC Band Program. President Jerry Anderson accepted the award. Our name is engraved on a large plaque which hangs in the commons area at IVC.

– The Chillicothe Optimist Club celebrated our 20th Anniversary with a banquet at Shore Acres Club House on May 12, 2005. Special guests were Illinois Optimist International Governor, Dr. Jerry Wolf and his wife Margaret. Nine of our past presidents were present. Charter President, Harry and Marian Crull were each presented an Optimist of the Year Award plaque for their support of this club’s efforts.

– A donation of $500.00 was given to the IVC Key Club for Habitat for their Humanity Fund.

– The 25th Anniversary of the River Run for Wellness was held with a very good turnout of runners.

June 2005

– 15 boys and girls participated in the Junior Golf Tournament at the Leo Donovan Golf Course in Peoria.

Sept. 2005

– The Installation of Officers and Directors for 2005-2006 Banquet was held at Shore Acres Club House. The annual “Friend of Youth” award was presented to John Heffron, Director of Crossword Cafe.

Dec. 2005

– The annual Toy Program was held in conjunction with the Christmas Basket Program for the less fortunate in our community.

May 2006

– The annual Drug Free Poster Contest was held.

– The 26th River Run for Wellness was held.

June 2006

– The Junior Optimist Golf Tournament was held.

– The annual Flag Give away for donations was held at Kroger and First National Bank.

– The Optimist Club awarded $21,800.00 in donations to area groups and for projects presented to us through mini grant applications.

– The Marketing and Tourism Commission gave our club $450.00 for our Annual 5K Race.

Sept. 2006

– The annual Installation of Officers and Directors Banquet was held at Shore Acres Club House. We presented the annual “Friend of Youth” award to Mike Berchtold for his work as Coach of the Girl’s Softball team.

– One month before Spider Hill was to open in October 2006, the Three Sisters Park Committee terminated our contract with them as they wanted to take over the production of Spider Hill on their own. They wanted to try a new program allowing other volunteer groups to donate volunteer hours and receive funds on the percentage of hours worked as a group.

Dec. 2006

– The Gift Giving trees were up at Kroger, Pearce and Geiger’s True Value Hardware with tags for the boys and girls of less fortunate families. The plan is for all of the tags to be taken and age appropriate gifts purchased for the children. The toys will be given with the Christmas baskets on the 3rd Saturday in December, each year.

Jan. 2007

– The Spider Hill Committee distributed over $26,000.00 to area groups who had volunteered to help put on the 2006 shows. A part of this distribution was $10,000.00 that was returned to the Optimist Club. This was seed money that was used to help get Spider Hill started in 1999.

April 2007

– The annual Easter Egg Hunt was held at Shore Acres Park for the first time, and it proved to be a great place for this event.

– The annual Drug Free Poster Contest was held. The theme was “Joys of Living Drug Free”. Our two local winners received $50.00 savings bonds from First National Bank and South Side Bank. The local winning posters were sent on to the State level where Colton Colwell’s poster won 1st Place and he received a $100.00 savings bond and Megan Westerman-Connor’s poster won 2nd place. She received a $50.00 savings bond.

– The Club hosted a NOW (New Optimist Members Wanted) dinner at Grecian Gardens on April 25th. Our featured speaker was Illinois Optimist Governor, Jerry Emery. Six guests, along with club members and spouses attended the dinner. Several of the guests planned to join our club.

May 2007

– A check for $500.00 was donated to the Camp Invention Program. Jennie Hawkey accepted the check and explained to the members how the money would be used.

– A check for $1,000.00 was presented to Laini Greenstein, Children’s Librarian at the Chillicothe Public Library for the summer reading program.

– John Heffron, Director of Crossword Café accepted a check for $500.00 from our club for youth activities at the Cafe.

– The 27th annual River Run for Wellness 5K Race was held with 150 runners participating. Two new course records were set. The men’s new record was set at 15:35, and the women’s new record was 18:45.

– Ben Gauwitz, an IVC Senior, was awarded our Student Optimist of the Year Award. He was presented with a $500.00 scholarship.

Aug. 2007

– The club prepared and served lunch at Shore Acres Park for the Chief Gomo Gathering & Rendezvous.

May 2008

– The 28th annual River Run for Wellness was held with great success.

June 2008

– Dick Howarth represented the Optimist Club at the annual Mr. Chillicothe contest put on by the Lion’s Club each year during Claud-Elen Days. He came in 2nd, dressed in Red Hat attire and in a ladies swimsuit inside of a pickle barrel. The audience loved it.

– 29 youth participated in the annual Junior Optimist Golf Tournament.

Sept. 2008

– Eileen Safford was awarded the Optimist of the Year Award at the Annual Installation of Officers and Directors Banquet at Bella Roma Restaurant.

– Plans were underway to collect nice art pieces for our Art Auction to be held at Shore Acres Club House on October 23rd.

Oct. 2008

– The Art Auction brought in several thousand dollars for our youth fund. A special event during the evening was the presentation of “Friend of Youth” award to Ted Bailey (former owner of the Pub) for his support of the youth programs in Chillicothe.

Mar. 2009

– A $1,000.00 donation was presented to Gail Hintze, the Children’s Librarian at the Chillicothe Public Library, for the summer reading program.

– Five area students were each presented a $50.00 gift certificate as they were honored during our Youth Appreciation Week.

April 2009

– A donation of $300.00 was presented to Lisa Hammer of the Rome Youth Activities, to sponsor a team. The Optimist Club will have a banner with our logo placed on the fence at the Gotch Ball Diamond.

May 2009

– A check for $500.00 was presented to Sandi Level to help send the Hair Company Kids to a dance competition in Wisconsin Dells.

– The 29th River Run for Wellness 5K Race was held. One of the runners, Rob Fennell, ran the 3.1 mile course barefooted. He appreciated the fact that the edges of the street and the driveways had been swept before the race.

June 2009

– The annual Junior Golf Tournament was held at Leo Donovan Golf Course in Peoria. Since 1978, Optimist-sponsored golf tournaments have served as a springboard for many of golf’s greatest players. Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are two players who found their beginnings with the Optimists.

– The annual Poster Contest was held and the boy and girl winners of the local contest each received a $50.00 savings bond and several gift certificates. The theme this year was “Say No to Drugs”.

Sept. 2009

– The 25th Annual Installation of Officers and Directors was held at our regular Saturday morning meeting on September 19th. Our speaker was Stephanie Farris, who was also presented our “Friend of Youth” award. Irv Latta received the Optimist of the Year award.

– President Mike Mahoney called a special meeting to consider the Town Theatre proposal on Thursday, September 24th at Grecian Gardens. A very good presentation was prepared and presented to the club members. A very good turnout of club members and spouses attended this meeting. A silent vote was taken after the presentation and the vote was 36-2 in favor of moving forward with the purchase of the Town Theatre.

Oct. 2009

– The 2nd annual Art Auction for Youth was held at Pearce Community Center on October 17th.

– Excitement has risen in the community as word about the pending purchase of the Town Theatre has spread. A committee of Optimist Club members has been formed to oversee this project. Donations have started coming in many amounts of up to $1,000.00. This will help to pay off the mortgage and the renovations to update the theatre. The City of Chillicothe has offered to reimburse the club up to $50,000.00 for all new seats and some renovations.

Nov. 2009

– Our club put together a float for the Christmas Parade advertising our purchase of the Town Theatre. Many dressed up in their favorite movie costumes.

– The closing was held on November 30th for the purchase of the Town Theatre from Vern Reynolds of Reynolds Theatres for $200,000.00. Two loans were made available from the Chillicothe Development Foundation. One of the loans was for $40,000.00, for 90 days, and was paid off in 60 days, thanks to the many donations that were received from the community.

Dec. 2009

– A movie premiere night was held on Dec. 10th to celebrate the 60thAnniversary of the Town Theatre. Over 100 tickets were sold for $75.00 each. A reception of champagne and finger foods was served to the attendees, and then they moved across the street to view a movie.

– The annual Toy Program in conjunction with the Christmas Baskets was held again. Approximately 150 children received toys.

Jan. 2010

– All the new seats for the two movie houses at the Town Theatre were ordered on January 8th. They are expected to be delivered by April 15th.

– Tim & Shelly’s 2nd Street Bar & Grill offered to host a Spaghetti Dinner with all proceeds to go to the Town Theatre project. This was held on Jan. 17thalong with a silent auction put together by club members. Over 450 meals were served and the profit for the day was $9,500.00.

Mar. 2010

– The club meetings were moved to Tim & Shelly’s 2nd Street Bar & Grill for a trial period. They will prepare a buffet breakfast for us.

– The club received the Organization of the Year Award with the club’s new project of owning and running the Town Theatre. This award was presented to us during the annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet. President Mike Mahoney accepted our award.

– Our own President, Mike Mahoney, received the Civic Achievement Award from the City of Chillicothe during the Chamber banquet.

April 2010

– The annual Easter Egg Hunt was held at Shore Acres Park with storytelling, face painting and pictures with the Easter Bunny along with hunting over 7,000 eggs.

– Five area students were honored during Youth Appreciation Week for their good conduct and optimistic attitude.

May 2010

– Many white elephant items and new items were donated for an auction to raise money for Dick Howarth’s campaign for the Mr. Chillicothe Contest. Dick was our club representative and almost $800.00 was raised.

– May 2nd – the Town Theatre was closed after the 7:00 show was over to prepare the theatre for the new seats and a complete cleaning. A crew of volunteers showed up (many were not Optimist members) to take out the seats and unload the new seats when they arrived on May 4th. The larger theatre re-opened for business on Friday, May 7th, and the smaller theatre opened on Sunday, May 9th after all the seats were installed.

– The Grand Opening of the Town Theatre was held Saturday, May 8thas planned, with an Oscar Night theme including a red carpet, local celebrities, dignitaries, paparazzi and more. A full house of movie fans were on hand to see Iron Man 2.

– The 30th Annual 5K River Run and 1 mile Walk for Wellness was planned for May 29th. Three hundred runners and walkers were expected.

– May 25, 2010, is the 25th Anniversary of the Chillicothe Optimist Club. Celebration will be a banquet at Pearce Community Center on Sunday, June 13, 2010. A 5:00 p.m. social hour and dinner at 6:00 p.m. with a program to follow.