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Batavia to salute 1958 magazine cover with ice-skating celebration

BATAVIA – The long cold snap should help ensure thick ice on Depot Pond in time for the 60th anniversary celebration of the famed Saturday Evening Post cover depicting skating on the river in Batavia.

Festivities will feature entertainment, food and ice skating from noon to 4 p.m. Jan. 6, Batavia MainStreet announced. And people can visit the Batavia Depot Museum to view the original painting by John Falter, the artist for the magazine’s cover published Jan. 11, 1958.

“The ‘Fox River Ice-Skating’ … painting was purchased in the early ’60s by the Batavia Woman’s Club and donated to the museum,” said Jennifer Putzier, director of the Depot Museum. “Currently, we’re planning on opening the entire museum so people can enjoy [it]. The gift shop will be open. We have prints of the painting available by donation.”

For the “Post to Present” party, ice skate rentals will be offered by Funway, while supplies last, with open skating on the pond. Rental proceeds will go to the CHIP IN Batavia charity.

What is now the museum’s lower level used to be the original warming shelter for skaters on the pond, Putzier said.

“It will be nice and toasty warm in here,” she said. “The Batavia Historical Society will be selling s’more-making kits [for] some fire pits on the Riverwalk [similar to those shown] in the painting … by the old Appleton [factory].”

The Batavia Historical Society has begun a capital campaign to raise $2 million to double the space of the Depot Museum, which is on the Register of Historic Places.

“Everyone is so proud that Batavia was on the cover,” Putzier said, noting that Falter worked in the same tradition as Norman Rockwell. “Batavia was America that week. It was the representative of the perfect winter in America in 1958.”

Today, in place of the old warming center, the museum’s downstairs area is home to the “Little Town in the Big Woods” exhibit based on the book by Marilyn Robinson. The book was a third-grade reader style work on the history of Batavia, Putzier said. The permanent exhibit also includes items excavated at the site of the 1833 cabin of Christopher Payne, the first settler, and highlights other early settlers and businesses.

In conjunction with the event, two Batavia women brought a program about Falter and his painting to third-graders at Alice Gustafson Elementary School, where art teacher Laura Starzec worked with the pupils to create an artwork for the Jan. 6 celebration. The students’ piece celebrates the original painting and also illustrates what happens today on the pond. It will be on display at the Peg Bond Center that day.

The commemorative party is a partnership with many Batavia community organizations and businesses.

For information,visit or call 630-761-3528.

“I am so excited this is happening,” Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke said at the City Council meeting Dec. 18, according to the Batavia MainStreet event announcement. “I have been receiving a lot of calls about this historic celebration.”

‘Post to Present’ lineup

• Open skate on Depot Pond

• Music and live entertainment by the Batavia Community Band and Music Matters School of Music

• Hot cider and hot dogs available for purchase from Bernie’s Bully Dogs

• Fire pits provided by the Batavia Park District

• Ice skates for rent by Funway

• The Peg Bond Center will be open as a warming area, and the Depot Museum will be open for tours.

If you go

What: “Post to Present” salute to Saturday Evening Post’s Batavia cover of 1958

When: Noon to 4 p.m. Jan. 6

Where: Depot Pond off Houston Street, Batavia

Cost and info: Free admission;, 630-761-3528

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