© 2024 WNIJ and WNIU
Northern Public Radio
801 N 1st St.
DeKalb, IL 60115
Northern Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Funding Effort For Rockford Park District Trolley Has Reached Its Goal

Rockford Park District
The Rockford Park District Trolley 36 runs along the Rock River past Nicholas Conservatory.

A Rockford-area drive to keep an iconic local attraction open this summer has reached its goal.

Faced with the news that the Rockford Park District was sidelining one of her favorite hometown attractions due to budget constraints, Rockford musical icon Jodi Beach decided to take action.

“Our first thought was, this can’t really be happening," Beach said.  "So we approached some people with the Park District and said, 'How can we help?' Of course the Park District loves the trolley; this isn't an us against them. We’re all on the same team.”

Beach has a lot of connections in the Rockford entertainment community. She’s a singer and pianist and the name in front of the popular Jodi Beach Trio. She also is musical director for a local church, a regular performer at local outdoor concert events, and a frequent performer in local musical theater productions.

Credit Jodi Beach
Veteran Rockford musician Jodi Beach and her husband, Jim McDowell, started an internet funding effort to keep Trolley 36 running this summer.

“For me personally, I love the trolley. I’ve always loved the trolley," Beach said. "When I was a little girl, my family watched 'Meet Me In St. Louis' all the time, I loved 'The Trolley Song,' and I got to play that role of Esther and sing 'The Trolley Song,' and my parents took me out to San Francisco to ride the trolley."

With a goal of $16,000, Beach and her husband Jim McDowell started a GoFundMe page to keep Trolley Car 36 on the tracks, Friday and Saturday nights through the 2018 season. Beach credits her husband with the Go-Fund-Me idea. He grew up in the area and supports many Pro-Rockford campaigns.

She lights up when she talks about Trolley 36.

“We just love trolleys, and the trolley in Rockford was very special," she said. "When I was young, I narrated on the trolley and there was a script that I was supposed to read to them about the history of Rockford, but five-year-olds don’t care about that, so I taught them songs. So I would teach them ‘The Trolley Song’ and we’d learn it on the way to the Symbol, and on the way back we’d sing it together and it was just very fun. It’s a unique special thing.”

The trolley also has supported various Rockford events, including service as a parking shuttle between parking lots along the track and the Rockford Market events of Friday nights during summer.

Credit Rockford Park District Foundation
Lori Berkes-Nelson

The Go-Fund-Me page specifically mentions raising funds for the Rockford Park District Foundation. Director Lori Berkes-Nelson says the foundation appreciates these kinds of community efforts.

“They love their Park District and they love the service," she said of Beach and McDowell, "and they realize that ‘Gosh, we love it and we know lots of other people that love it, so now we have to come forward and show our true love.’”

A Facebook post confirmed that the GoFundMe page has reached its goal. It has raised more than the targeted $16,000.

Berkes-Nelson explained that plans are in the works for a number of Town Hall-type events throughout the Rockford area. The Park District will be seeking citizens input about what they would like more of and what they would like less of from their park district.

“We love to work with citizens who are passionate about what the Park District is doing,” she said.