MAPLE PARK – Earlier this year, officials in Maple Park got a pleasant surprise.
In early February, Capt. Nick Louis, chairman of the Airline Pilot’s Historical Society, walked into Maple Park Village Hall and said he would like to donate park equipment to the village.
“He just kind of showed up at our door,” said Mike Miller, director of public works. “He just kind of noticed we were in need of some playground equipment. We’re overjoyed.”
Louis has spent 14 years driving through Maple Park to the Airline Pilot’s Historical Society’s hangar near town, and he noticed the town was in need of playground equipment.
“Maple Park is a very humble, normal American working-class town,” Louis said.
“The need is there. They’ve got a couple very in-need parks. ... They just don’t have the budget for it.”
So Louis approached the village, and though skeptical at first, officials became receptive to the idea.
Louis expected some skepticism, he said, because its unusual for someone to give a gift with no strings attached, but he said that’s what the organization does.
“This was a welcome surprise,” Village President Kathy Curtis said in a news release. “With limited funding available for park equipment, this is a project that would not have been possible without the generosity of the Airline Pilot’s Historical Society.”
The park equipment, which includes a hut with slides and monkey bars attached to it, will be installed at McAdams Park on the Civic Center property on Willow Street.
The property already is home to two baseball diamonds.
“It’s a nice outfit,” Miller said. “It’s not often someone walks into your village and wants to give you something.”
The park equipment has been ordered and could be delivered this week, Louis said.
Miller said if all goes well, the equipment will be installed by the end of June.
“The one request we’ll make is we’ll get this equipment, but please put a bench in there so grandma and grandpa can sit and watch,” Louis said.
The Airline Pilot’s Historical Society has been in existence for 16 years and has worked to promote aviation and generate an interest among young future pilots.
The society was created after Louis’ retirement.
Now he spends his time looking for aviation memorabilia to purchase and resell to collectors.
Once the organization started generating cash from the sales, it knew it wanted to do something to help the community.
Every year, the organization donates to Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago (formerly Children’s Memorial Hospital) and St. Jude Hospital.
This isn’t the first set of playground equipment it has donated.
In 2005, the Airline Pilot’s Historical Society donated equipment to Fox Chase Park in St. Charles.