Sunday, 17 October 2021
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Showing their hometown pride

The following is a list of the winners of the 2018 Patriots in the Park Essay Contest, sponsored by the Granite City Park District. All of the winners received their medals and read their essays July 3 at City Hall. The theme of the contest is “Just Can’t Hide Our Hometown Pride.”

High school

First – Darcy Popmarkoff

I have always enjoyed traveling with my family, especially to places like Disney World and Universal Studios. We have traveled by car, train and airplane to many of our great states as well as several trips to Canada. Each trip was fun and exciting in its own way, although I still feel the happiest when I am at home in Granite City! I feel that Granite City is the best place on Earth to live. I know there are many places that I have never been, but I would put my hometown up against any other in the whole world. There is no place like home and I would like to share some of the reasons why Granite City, Illinois, is number one for me.

First, our schools offer a variety of subjects and activities for every student. Even families that cannot afford books or food are taken care of so that every child is given a chance to learn. We also have teachers who care about all children and treat everyone with respect. Without these wonderful and caring teachers, we might not grow up to be good and productive adults. I have personally needed extra help at school and my teachers were always more than willing to take the extra time to make sure that I completely understood the assignment. It’s wonderful educators like these who make our schools so special!

Next, my hometown has the best parks around. The Granite City Park District offers so many activities for kids and adults. I have participated in gymnastics, tennis, ice-skating, swimming, basketball or just walking my dog and looking at the beautiful scenery. The gardens are always pretty in the spring and so well-maintained throughout the year. I have a small park near my home that I can walk or ride my bike to. We have even used the pavilion for one of my birthday parties. It is so nice to have this many parks that offer year-round activities. The parks are truly the pride of the city.

Last but not least, United States Steel Corporation and Locks and Dam 27 are two very important businesses to our community. Without the steel mill Granite City would not be what it is today. The mill has employed generations of families and provided steel for countries all over the world. Many people are unaware that the Locks and Dam 27 moves more cargo than any other navigation structure on the Mississippi River. It was designed by the United States Corps of Engineers and was built so barges could bypass the dangerous Chain of Rocks. The locks began operation in 1953 and can drop the water level from a few feet to just over 10 feet. This allows commercial towboats and barges to safely pass while traveling the mighty Mississippi River. Due to the locks’ great importance with transporting goods up and down the river, viewing the lock is very limited for security reasons. These two companies are the backbone of our community and they are a big part of what makes Granite City great!

I could go on and on about why my hometown is the best, although I feel these are some of the most important features that make it difficult for me to hide my hometown pride. Having such wonderful schools to educate our youth, beautiful parks and recreation to keep us on a positive track and great industries to provide a comfortable living for families, make Granite City the only home for me. I still enjoy traveling to new places and meeting different people, although there is no place like home and I am proud to say that I am from Granite City, Illinois!

Eighth grade

First – Lawson Kimble, Holy Family

Granite City is a very beautiful community that I am proud to call my home. I can’t imagine growing up in any other town. When I reflect on the past 13 years of my life, certain places and events in my community bring a smile to my face. If someone asked my recommendation of three places they should frequent in Granite City, I would suggest they catch a movie at our local Granite City Cinema, eat at my favorite restaurant Ravanelli’s, and take a stroll around our beautiful Wilson Park any time of the year.

Have you ever gone to see a movie at our Granite City Cinema during Christmas time? If not, it is a sight to see! Businesses in our community decorate beautiful Christmas trees for our enjoyment. Children can see Santa, sit on his lap, and read their Christmas lists while getting their picture taken. It is awesome to jump in the car and go to the show right down the street from my house. Our cinema hires local high school students, which is a great place for them to earn money and stay out of trouble. The most special event I have ever attended at the cinema was a free screening of my aunt’s first Twentieth Century Fox film. It made me proud that the citizens of Granite City came out to support her. They also had a free screening when my sister’s first movie came out, too! The workers at the cinema are really accommodating. My sister insists on waiting until the very last credit is shown on the screen. She says it is a “union thing.” Although I think it is a bit dramatic, they are always cool about it.

If you are going at eat anywhere in Granite City, it has to be Ravanelli’s! Ravanelli’s is one of the most spectacular restaurants to dine in! I have been going there ever since I can remember. Ravanelli’s food is excellent and no matter what you choose, it will hit the spot. Holidays are always special at Ravanelli’s! Coming from a family that isn’t Irish, St. Patrick’s Day has never been really a holiday that we have celebrated. Not to worry! It has become our tradition that no matter where we are, or what’s going on, we get Ravanelli’s St. Patrick’s Day corn beef and cabbage spread. I can remember going to Ravanelli’s when I was little and seeing the gingerbread houses during Christmas time. That was a special event. My aunt recalls a time when she was in high school, sick at play practice and her friend Andy Ravanelli gave her his dinner, which happened to be her favorite vegetable soup from his mom and dad’s restaurant. I love hearing stories about when my mom and aunt were little girls. It was always a special treat when their grandpa would babysit and get “Lasagna for Two” from the Ravanelli’s take-out side. Speaking of the take-out side, have you ever walked in and not thought, “Ah, I love that smell?”

When we got to Ravanelli’s, I love watching my grandmother talk to practically everyone she knows who walks in the door. It is really fun to watch when Beth and Terry Ravanelli, the owners, come in and greet their customers. They are both very personable and are proud to be living in the community that made their restaurant famous! I love to see the different generations of families spending time together. No special event takes place in my family that doesn’t warrant a trip to Ravanelli’s. On the weekends after my sister’s plays, Sundays after church, birthdays, anniversaries and sometimes for no good reason at all, I hear, “Let’s go to Ravanelli’s!”

Wilson Park is by far the most special place in our community. Ever since I was a little boy, I have had memories from the park I will cherish my entire life. Park employees work very hard year round to make our park beautiful. At the entrance to our park in early spring are extravagant tulips. As a very small child, I can remember taking pictures with my sister in the tulips. Every year, my dad stands in line for an hour to bring the bulbs home to plant in my yard. If I ever leave Granite City, those bulbs will be coming with me. The water fountain is a very interesting sight to see. The water shoots up really high and falls in the pond below. Every year, hundreds of kids come to our park to get pictures taken in the gardens for homecoming and prom. Come to think of it, my mom and dad got engaged there after 10 years of dating.

Some of my earliest memories of sporting events began at Wilson Park. My first tennis, baseball, skating, and even though I belong to Paddlers, my swimming lessons took place there, too. My sister and I have had many festive birthday parties there. The pool is so much fun and the employees always worked very enthusiastically to make our parties memorable. The first time I skated with my dad was at the Wilson Park Ice Rink. My mom took tons of pictures as my dad held me and skated around the rink. Ironically, I received my first eight stitches to the chin as a result of falling on that ice! I am very excited that I will become a Granite City Warrior hockey player in the fall. I am sure I will have many more memories from the rink especially because my dad is going to be the coach. I think it is awesome that when I leave the rink and walk out to the car, I see a tree that was planted in honor of my grandpa. Benches and bricks honoring community members can be seen throughout our park — just another way our community stays connected.

In conclusion, I must talk about the largest, most significant event that my family celebrates along with almost everyone in our community, Fourth of July. Thousands of people from all over the St. Louis metropolitan area come to enjoy our celebration. It is awesome to see the carnival pull into town because you know the highlight of summer has arrived. After riding rides, eating funnel cakes, and drinking the best lemonade around, we go to the fireworks. I love how our community honors our veterans and current military heroes by making the celebration so patriotic. At the last boom of fireworks, I always feel so proud to call Granite City my home.

I would like to thank every person, from every generation, who has worked so hard to make Granite City the best hometown I could ever grow up in. I will always remember how much fun I had enjoying places like the movie theater, spending family time at Ravanelli’s, and just being a kid at Wilson Park. I will always be proud to be a “Granite Citian!”

Second – Lillian Harris, Coolidge

As a local from Granite City, I’d love to share with visitors some “must go-to” places and some “hidden gems” within our town. There are so many amazing businesses and places of entertainment for those that may choose to visit this great town. Today, I’d like to share my top three places that I would have on our visitor must-see guide, as well as an event that makes Granite City special to me.

First, I would invite those traveling through Granite City to visit a well-known restaurant in my hometown. My favorite place to dine in is Jerry’s Cafeteria. I love this place because it is a family-owned restaurant. It has been around since 1986! I wasn’t even born then! I love their cafeteria-style atmosphere. You can’t go wrong with their fried chicken and cheesy potatoes. Also, be sure and get one of their famous desserts. My favorite is the cheesecake!

Next, I would invite our visitors to cool off at our local private pool, Paddlers Swim and Dive. This is a hidden gem that is tucked back between a few businesses on Johnson Road. Parents can enjoy relaxing on a comfy lounger, while the kids take a dip in the cool water. My favorite thing about Paddlers Pool is getting to go off the diving board and talking with the lifeguards. No visit to Paddlers Pool is complete without stopping by the confession stand on your way out to get one of their famous Slush Puppy-flavored ice treats.

Then, I would make sure that every visitor knew about the hill behind Frohardt School. To get to this hill, you must drive down Wabash Avenue and stop right before you turn into the subdivision of houses. This hill is a hidden gem after the perfect snow. It is the perfect place to sled down. Even if it hasn’t snowed, this is a fun place to roll down the hill. It’s not too big, so you don’t have to worry about getting tired walking to the top of the hill. This is always the place that my dad takes us to after it has snowed. It’s close, so we never have to drive too far on snow-covered roads.

Last, I would suggest that a visitor experience the Route 66 Bridge Birthday Bash and Bicycle Ride. This bike ride can be as long as 69 miles; it starts and ends at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. To get the best experience, I would invite visitors to sit on our front porch, as the bicyclist trail takes them directly in front of our house. This is always a highlight to a warm June morning for our family. Typically, on this warm Sunday morning, we are decorating our home for the Granite City Patriots in the Park House Decorating Contest. The cyclists ride past as we put the finishing touches on our home. This is such as encouraging and positive morning for our family. We offer encouragement to those riding and they complement our efforts of making our home patriotic for the Fourth of July.

As you can see by my suggestions, Granite City is very special to me. As a local resident, I get excited to share with others what I feel makes our town special and unique. I’m proud to say this is the place that I call home!

Third – Ciara Folkerts, St. Elizabeth

Do you like Granite City? I do, because I am proud to be a part of such a wonderful community. I have been part of this community for 13 years, and I just can’t hide my hometown pride. One reason I like our community is because it has many restaurants, attractions and activities. I think that Granite City is very nice to live in because it is peaceful and like a family. I am very proud to represent to be a part of the Granite City community.

One destination that I love the most about our city is Kool Beanz. Kool Beanz is a café joint that serves to the public. I love Kool Beanz because it is new and serves delicious food. Their café has great service, delicious drink beverages and very comfy seating arrangements. It is also a very good place to study, finish homework, or just to hang out and chat with a friend. This is one of the first destinations I would recommend a tourist to check out.

Another destination I love is Alfresco. Alfresco is a place that does theatrical shows for all ages to enjoy. Some plays they have hosted are “Seussical,” “Little Mermaid” and “Alice in Wonderland.” It is a great little show production to bring your friends and enjoy a good show. They also have great food to serve and sell merchandise based on the play. Sometimes they sell props that interact with the play at certain scenes. I highly recommend that destination to friends and family who have no plans on the weekend.

A great place to visit is Wilson Park. Wilson Park has many activities and events that help bring families together, such as going to enjoy a nice sit-in movie for free. I also love Wilson Park for their playground. They always try to update the playground as much as they can for young children and for families to enjoy. They also host many sports events such as basketball, softball and hockey. I love Wilson Park and would recommend many people to go to Wilson and hang out with friends and family.

I have participated in many events that our community has hosted for the public. One event that I have always attended was the firework show on the Fourth of July. I believe that Granite has one of the best firework shows that brings the community together as one. A place that is special to me in Granite City is Duke’s Bakery. Duke’s Bakery is a small bakery that sells cookies, cannolis, doughnuts and more. It is very delicious and the people there are very kind. Another place that makes Granite City special to me is the movie theater. I really like the movie theater because it is close to home and the tickets and food aren’t overpriced. It is also a good place for me to spend time with my family and friends enjoying a good movie. All of these places and more mean a lot to me, and make up how Granite City is my home.

Being adopted, I have grown up to appreciate how grateful I am to be in America and the freedoms that I received here. It is truly amazing to be here in Granite City with the friends and family that have supported me all my life. Growing up in Granite City has made me realize that I am very fortunate for the wonderful community I have grown up in. I love my city and I am not afraid to show it. I am very honored to call Granite City my home.

Seventh grade

First – Aleah Crenshaw, Holy Family

When visitors come to my hometown,  I want to show them some good places to look around, eat and have a good time. Granite City is home of the Warriors. Mayor Hagnauer is the mayor of Granite City. Granite City has a great fire department and police department. The people in Granite City work hard to keep our city and to keep us safe.

There are great places to eat and relax in Granite City, including Imo’s, Jerry’s, Ravanelli’s, Mr. Twist and Kool Beanz. Mr. Twist has been twisting and making ice cream for us for 41 years. Jerry’s Cafeteria and Catering was established in 1986 and it is a good place to get lunch or dinner. Imo’s is based from St. Louis and has 99 locations; one is in Granite City. Kool Beanz is a coffee café with food and many places to sit down and have a good time.

Good places to look around are the Six Mile Museum, Horseshoe Lake State Park, Wilson Park and the GC Lock and Dam. The Six Mile Museum was built around 1837 and still to this day grows crops with the fertile soil from the Mississippi River and sells the crops they grow in the summer. Horseshoe Lake State Park has many activities such as boating, camping, dog training, fishing, hiking trails, hunting, picnicking and many more. Wilson Park, established in 1921, has a lighted softball field, seven baseball fields, six lighted tennis courts, playgrounds, a swimming pool, an outdoor ice skating rink, 1.4-mile fitness trail, outdoor pavilions, a stage, picnic shelters and much more. The GC Lock and Dam is part of the Upper Mississippi Nine Foot Navigation. The GC Lock and Dam 27 moves more cargo that any other navigation structure on the Mississippi River.

Places to get a great show are the Alfresco Center and the Granite City Cinema. The Alfresco Center puts on great shows and plays. Some of their shows’ casts are all children with amazing talent! The Granite City Cinema has movies in theaters with a very nice and helpful staff. Granite City Cinema has movies in the theaters for a long time and it is such a fun experience to hang out and watch a movie.

My favorite places in Granite City are Wilson Park, Kool Beanz, Mr. Twist and the Alfresco Center. Wilson Park, because they have a very fun and nice ice rink and pool. Kool Beanz, because it has delicious drinks and it’s a great place just to hang out and relax. They even have some people perform sometimes! The Alfresco Center, because I love seeing my friends in exciting plays. Also, Mr. Twist because it has the best ice cream and never lets anyone down.

Second – Michael Atkins, Holy Family

Many generations ago, my ancestors made Granite City their home. My great-great-great-grandparents came to the United States from Poland. After hearing about Granite City’s wonderful opportunities available for their four sons and two daughters, they settled in the area. Since then, my family has been active in our fine city; my great-great-great-uncle Casmir Skubish was an alderman; my great-great-grandpa Michael Skubish was head of security at Granite City Steel; my great-great-aunt Sandy Skubish-Hughes-Strannigan taught English at the high school; my grandma Debra Kelley worked at the Army Depot along with many of my other relatives; and my mom, Amanda Atkins, is a teacher!

With my family history, I feel like I know a thing or two about Granite City! Some of my favorite places are Wilson Park, the revitalized, historic, downtown area, and our fine arts theaters. These are just a few of my favorite places.

Wilson Park has so much to offer. During the spring, we have the ball parade to kick off the season. Throughout the summer, we have an abundance of playgrounds to thrill children of all ages. We also have well-maintained basketball and tennis courts. If you find yourself too warm, head straight over to our spectacular pool! In the winter, our nostalgic outdoor ice rink is home to the Granite City Warriors’ hockey team, and provides a fun family-friendly atmosphere. Year round, you can see people utilizing the paved trail that surrounds our amazing park.

If you are hungry, I recommend heading to the revitalized downtown area. You can sample local meals at Lascelles, Petri’s, the Garden Gate Tea Room, and Jerry’s Cafeteria. I highly recommend the cheesy potatoes at Jerry’s! When your stomach is full, you can take in a movie at our modern three-screen theater. During the warmer months, you might be lucky enough to partake in the Melting Pot Market that is held in Civic Park. Looking for something quieter? Head to our beautifully remodeled Six Mile Regional Library! Downtown has a little something for everyone!

We, in Granite City, can boast about our fine arts offerings. The state-of-the-art Performing Arts Center at Granite City High School provides our town with much entertainment. We have the homecoming play in the fall, the annual community production of “A Christmas Carol” in December, and then in the spring, there is a fairytale-themed play. Want more theater? There’s no need to head across the river, just down Delmar! The Alfresco Performing Arts Center has been entertaining locals for years! The renovated church has hosted plays, musicals, and even some rock and roll!

For these reasons, and so many more, I am happy to call Granite City my home. Many of our restaurants are one of a kind, our park is spectacular, and entertainment is easy to find! My ancestors were right to settle in this great city!

Third – Christopher Taylor, Holy Family

As locals, we know the best places to eat at and to visit here in Granite City. If you have a friend or family member visiting, you might take them to your favorite place. It might be for an afternoon walk around Wilson Park, on dining out for dinner at Jerry’s Cafeteria. Maybe you do not have a favorite place to eat or visit. That might get some of us thinking. What are some places that make Granite City special to us?

One place that makes Granite City special to me is Ravanelli’s Restaurant. The restaurant is special to me because their fried chicken and pasta are like no one else’s. The homemade bread they serve melts in your mouth. The service is fast and friendly. For a quality dining experience, you can find no other place around. It is special to me and my family because we have shared so many special occasions there.

Another place that makes Granite City special is Wilson Park. The park is special to me because of all the fun activities I have participated in at the park. The pool turns a hot summer day into a place to cool off and have some fun. The baseball diamonds at the park provide us with a great place to play America’s pastime. I have played many games with friends and learned to love another sport. Although falling down is not fun, the ice skating rink is one of the first places I visited frequently with my family. At a very young age I started learning to ice skate in the parks’ Learn to Skate program. The place I have the most memories of is the playground. When I was younger we would frequent this area and my sister and I would play for what seemed like hours. From shipwrecks to neverland, we would let our imagination take us to far-away place as we turned this place into our playground. I am thankful for each cherished experience I have had there.

The last place that makes Granite City special to me is Paddlers’ Pool. Paddlers has been part of my family for several generations. My great-grandmother was a stockholder the very first summer it opened. My grandparents owned stock, as well as, my parents have. We have all spent endless hours in the pools there. For myself, I have enjoyed every minute I have spent on the swim team. Hours and hours, I have spent practicing in the pool. One favorite memory I have is of our relay team being undefeated one season. Not all of my memories are about the swim team, though. I have many memories of great times with friends. Gutter ball is one of our favorite games, as well as diving off the board or eating some of our favorite snacks. I can’t imagine a summer without Paddlers.

In conclusion, I think Granite City is a beautiful town and I think many would agree. Ravanelli’s, Wilson Park and Paddlers might not be everyone’s favorite places in Granite City, but they are special to me. However, it is not all about the places; it’s about the people who keep Granite City united, clean, safe and a fantastic place to live. I have visited many other cities and Granite City hold a special place in my heart. I would not trade growing up in Granite City with any other place.

Sixth grade

First – Marli Popmarkoff, Holy Family

I’ve have always enjoyed traveling with my family, especially to places like Disney World and Universal Studios. We have traveled by car, train and airplane to many of our great states as well as several trips to Canada. Each trip was fun and exciting in its own way, although I still feel the happiest when I am at home in Granite City! I feel that Granite City is the best place on Earth to live. I know there are many places that I have never been, but I would put my hometown up against any other in the whole world. There is no place like home and I would like to share some of the reasons why Granite City is number one for me.

First, our schools offer a variety of subjects and activities for every student. Even families that cannot afford books or food are taken care of so that every child is given a chance to learn. We also have teachers who care about all children and treat everyone with respect. Without these wonderful and caring teachers, we might not grow up to be good and productive adults. I have personally needed extra help at school and my teachers were always more than willing to take the extra time to make sure that I completely understood the assignment. It’s wonderful educators like these who make our schools so special!

Next, my hometown has the best parks around. The Granite City Park District offers so many activities for kids and adults. I have participated in gymnastics, tennis, ice-skating, swimming, softball or just walking my dogs and looking at the beautiful scenery. The gardens are always pretty in the spring and so well-maintained throughout the year. I have a small park near my home that I can walk or ride my bike to. We have even used the pavilion for one of my birthday parties. It is so nice to have this many parks that offer year-round activities. The parks are truly the pride of the city.

Last but not least, United States Steel Corporation and Lock and Dam 27 are two very important businesses to our community. Without the steel mill, Granite City would not be what it is today. The mill has employed generations of families and provided steel for countries all over the world. Many people are unaware that the Lock and Dam 27 moves more cargo than any other navigation structure on the Mississippi River. It was designed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers and was built so that barges could bypass the dangerous Chain of Rocks. The lock began operation in 1953 and it can drop the water level from a few feet to just over ten feet. This allows commercial towboats and barges to safely pass while traveling the mighty Mississippi River. Due to the locks’ great importance with transporting goods up and down the river, viewing the locks is very limited for security reasons. These two companies are the backbone of our community and they are a big part of what makes Granite City great!

I could go on and on about why my hometown is the best, although I feel these are some of the most important features that make it difficult for me to hide my hometown pride. Having such wonderful schools to educate our youth, beautiful parks and recreation to keep us on a positive track and great industries to provide a comfortable living for families make Granite City the only home for me. I still enjoy traveling to new places and meeting different people, although there is no place like home and I am proud to say that I am from Granite City, Illinois!

Second – Madison Holland, Holy Family

Being born and raised in my hometown of Granite City gives me so much pride to say that I am a part of such a wonderful city. There is so much to see and do in Granite City. My community is very kid-friendly; it has amazing ice cream shops, and we have the best Fourth of July celebration every year. These are just a few amazing things about Granite City that make me proud of my hometown.

I have played sports in Granite City since I was about four or five years old. Even though I’m now 12, I still love to play sports at the Granite City Park District. When I was 4, I loved doing gymnastics. I had a lot of fun working with the coaches and meeting new friends. When I was about 6 years old, I started playing softball. I loved playing shortstop, and now I’m a pitcher. I always had so much fun with my friends and family during softball. Later on I decided to play park basketball. I enjoyed playing against my friends, which was one of the first times I played against them, not with them. I also had the best and the funniest coaches ever.

You cannot miss the best homemade ice cream shops in Granite City. There are Weathervane, Dairy Bar and Mr. Twist. Every time I’m finished with any of my sports, I always have to get some ice cream. Plus, you can have a good time with your family and friends there, too. It’s excellent because it’s homemade! You can never miss out on good homemade ice cream. I typically get vanilla with sprinkles at Weathervane, banana with sprinkles at Dairy Bar, and a chocolate-dipped vanilla cone at Mr. Twist.

In Granite City we have the best Fourth of July ever! There are fireworks, music and carnival rides. My family and I always have a blast! We always bring sparklers and some fireworks when we are waiting for the show to happen. We park and often snack at the Great Wall of China on my favorite, crab rangoon. When the show finally starts it’s really cool! We always say “woah” every time a firework blows up. We have watched the fireworks every year since I was a little kid. Granite City always has a great firework show. My family is all about traditions, and this is one that I love a lot.

Everyone should have hometown pride no matter where they live. It takes a supportive community to love and appreciate everything it has to offer. I’m very happy to have a hometown that allows me so many opportunities to play sports, eat hometown ice cream from local businesses, and to be part of the Fourth of July tradition every year with fireworks and fun. It is not hard to have hometown pride where there is so much it has to offer.

Third – Lucas Hutchings, Holy Family

I personally cannot hide my hometown pride. My hometown is Granite City, Illinois. There are about 35,000 people in the city. We are close to St. Louis, on the Illinois side of Mississippi. There are a lot of fun places to go. We have a lot of fun parks, very good schools and plenty of places to go swim. These are the top three places that I think you should go in Granite City.

One of my favorite places to visit in Granite City is Kool Beanz Cafe. The reason I like this place so much is because it has a great atmosphere and delicious food. My mom says their specialty coffees are good. My favorite food there are the veggie breakfast burritos. Plus, while you wait for your food, you can even play a board game.

My second favorite places to go is Novel Idea Bookstore. If you like books, this is the place for you. They have a ton of books. Their books are cheap too. They are also have a couple of mini-stores for babies and dogs. They have a big penny candy section. I like to look around the store for all of the cool things they have.

My final place on this list is Wilson Park. I absolutely love Wilson Park. Wilson Park has a lot of different things to do. In the summertime you can go swimming and in the winter, you can go ice-skating. If it is your first time ice-skating, I would suggest you wear warm clothes and a hockey mask. If you like Pokemon Go, you can find many Pokemon all around the park. I love walking around the park and playing Pokemon Go.

I hope you like my top three places to go in Granite City. We are lucky to live here with all of the fun things to do. Who knows? If you go to these places, you might even see me there.

Fifth grade

First – Brynn Hawkins, Holy Family

It was very hard to choose just three of Granite City’s many amazing places. Out of these many places, there are three that are especially important to me. Here are places that I would definitely show someone out of town.

I think that the fireworks displays on the Fourth of July is one of the best places to be! This display represents just how big and beautiful America really is. It reminds me of all of the heroic people it took to shape this nation. A lot of people come to the fireworks display from out of town. They witness all the big, beautiful and amazing things Granite City has to offer.

Another great place in Granite City is Veteran’s Park. This park is especially important to me because I remember going there with my great-grandfather on Veteran’s Day. He was a World War II veteran and prisoner of war. This park reminds us of all the people who fight and risk their lives to keep this country safe. I think it is important to have parks like this so not one single person forgets who fights for us.

The beautiful place in Granite City would have to be Wilson Park. Wilson Park is one of the best parks in the state of Illinois. From the biggest trees to the smallest flower, Wilson Park is one of my favorite places to be! I have spent many days there playing at the playground, watching my brothers’ baseball games, seeing everyone dressed up for homecoming and prom, and riding my bike around the trail. Wilson Park makes me think of my family and my community. I am proud that Granite City has one of the best parks!

Although it is hard to choose, I would have to pick the fireworks display and two of our beautiful parks. To me, these places represent our community, our families and our values. They make me feel proud to be from Granite City and I would want to share them with others.

Second – Noelle Richey, Holy Family

If I were introducing a relative or a friend to Granite City, I would first show them Wilson Park. It is a pretty good size and has a lot to offer. It has a swimming pool, a tennis court that I will be taking lessons at this summer, and a hockey rink that my dad grew up playing in. The park holds many different memories for anyone who has been there.

Wilson Park not only has fun parts to it, like the pool, the playgrounds, baseball fields, and the tennis and basketball courts, but it also has many other different things. If someone decides they want to have a relaxing day, they can go to the park and walk through all of the different paths and see some of its beautiful sights, like their arrangement of flowers. There are many pavilions throughout the park that can be used for having a picnic or for having parties. Another beautiful thing about our park is that there is a gazebo right past the flowers that is sometimes used for weddings. Wilson Park is pretty awesome and I’m thankful to have a great park in our little town.

After spending some time exploring through our beautiful park, I think I would take them to our movie theater, Granite City Cinema. We would grab some popcorn, catch the latest movies, and relax. Our movie theater has the most comfortable seats ever!

A cute little café is just the place to go after a day like this! My hometown has just the place and it is called Kool Beanz Cafe. I would grab my absolute favorite meal, the hot ham and cheese with baked chips, and then a brownie for dessert; you can never forget about dessert. They have many different things on their menu and also have lots of different tasty drinks. While sitting and enjoying the food, they have tons of artwork to check out and always have some good music playing. They have a whole section dedicated to just books and board games — isn’t that awesome? It is such a neat place.

Granite City has a lot of different places to offer. There are places to play and have fun, there is a place to relax and watch a movie, and even a place to enjoy some tasty good while getting to see some beautiful art. There is never a time where I feel unsafe. We have an amazing police force and firefighters. Granite City is special to me because they have employed my dad at the fire department for over 18 years. This city is an amazing place to grow up in, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

Third – Gracelyn Ratchford, St. Elizabeth

There is no place like Granite City! I have lived here my whole life, and I can tell you that Granite City is one of a kind. There is so much to see and do in Granite City. It is so fun to paint and find rocks for GC Rocks. My family loves to go to the St. Elizabeth Parish Picnic, and we also love to eat at the awesome restaurants we have in Granite City. Our Park District is one of the best!

Something fun to do in our town is GC Rocks. GC Rocks are stones that are hidden all over Granite City. Kids and grown-ups paint these rocks with many different colors and designs. GC Rocks can be hidden in the parks, at businesses, and at other fun places like outside the library. Going on a rock hunt is so much fun!

In the summer, an entertaining facility is the St. Elizabeth Parish Picnic. Enjoy exciting rides, delicious food, snacks, music and games. The smells of tacos, hamburgers, funnel cakes, and my favorite — hot dogs — will make you want to eat a lot here! I love knowing that my school has such a great activity for the community every year.

If you are hungry, Granite City is the place to be! We have excellent restaurants and places to get sweet treats! For a great meal, we can visit Ravanelli’s, Uncle Linny’s, Steel City Barbecue and Si Senor. We love to get ice cream at Mr. Twist, Weathervane and Lisa’s Dairy Bar. We doesn’t enjoy stopping by Duke’s Bakery for a doughnut or a famous smiley-face cookie? Most of these places are family-owned and started right here in my hometown.

There is one last thing that I love so much about Granite City. Our own Park District is amazing! My family and I love going to have fun at the pool, playing on the playgrounds, and taking walks around Wilson Park. I love renting a shelter at the park for my birthday parties. There is so much to see and do. Patriots in the Park fireworks make wonderful memories for many kids like me.

Out of all of the places that I have traveled, Granite City is the best. All anyone would need to do is visit a few of these places to believe me that Granite City is a wonderful place to live. I just can’t hide my hometown pride!

Fourth grade

First – Alex Pekarik, Holy Family

Granite City is a great place to live. I have a lot of pride in my hometown. There are many amazing places to visit in Granite City, but if I had to narrow it down to just three, I would choose Granite City High School, Wilson Park and Mr. Twist. There are three of my favorite hometown spots because they are fun places to hang out with friends and participate in incredible events. Anyone who visits Granite City must go to these places for good treats, fun entertainment and the chance to hang out with friends and family.

Granite City High School is an amazing place to visit. At the high school, they put on many incredible plays. It is also super fun to watch football games and cheer on the Warriors with my friends. I have been lucky to cheer with a cheer team for the Warriors and it was a great experience. I love being in plays and watching how good the high school actors are makes me want to keep doing plays. I think anyone who visits Granite City should go to a play or sporting event to see how great of an experience it is to witness in person.

Growing up in Granite City, I have many fond memories of Wilson Park. My family and I go to a lot of the parades that end by the park and they are always very good. The Fourth of July fireworks are some of the best in the area, too. I love to go swimming and play on the playgrounds; it is a great way to spend a warm summer day! There are many other things to do at Wilson Park as well. There are tennis courts and baseball fields that you can play on. I like to go to the ice rink in the winter, although I am not a good skater! There are so many things to do at the park and it is always great to be around so many wonderful people and make new friends as well.

Mr. Twist is my favorite ice cream shop. I have spent a lot of nights there getting ice cream with my friends and family. Sitting there eating ice cream, you never know who you will run into. I love to go to Mr. Twist after special events. At certain times, they make different flavors of ice cream; my favorite is strawberry. Felicia, the owner, is super nice and she does a lot for the community. She always lets me try new flavors and always greets us with a friendly smiles. Anyone who is visiting Granite City must try Mr. Twist while they are here.

Granite City has many amazing places to visit. It was very hard to narrow it down to three, but Granite City High School, Wilson Park and Mr. Twist are my three favorite places and would be the three that I would suggest to any visitors to our great town. I am so proud of my town and I love to go to these places with my friends and family. We are all so lucky to have so many great places to choose from and have so many great people to share them with. Granite City is an amazing town, which is why I just can’t hide my hometown pride!

Second — Lennon Petroski, St. Elizabeth

There are three specific reasons I love my town. While these reasons are not the only reasons I love Granite City, there are the top three on my list. Granite City has an awesome Park District. Other towns have nice parks, but not many have an ice skating rink, swimming pool, and, most importantly, baseball. Reason number two is baseball. Who doesn’t love baseball? Who doesn’t love a baseball parade? Last, but definitely not least, nothing beats Mr. Twist’s ice cream shop, specifically the root beer floats. There is only one Granite City and it is my town.

What is the number one thing you can find at Wilson Park? Exercise! I bet you thought I was going to say trees. The trees and gardens are a sight to see, though. How many towns have a full-size ice rink and swimming pool? Not many. How many towns have a huge pool with a water slide that you can rent for parties? Even less; I will call this free advertisement! On a serious note, this leads me to baseball.

I love baseball and Granite City has some pretty awesome fields. I have played ball with the Park District since kindergarten. It feels like it was just yesterday starting out at Worthen Park. Oh, those T-ball years! Not only does the town put in the effort to keep the children like me loving the sport of baseball, the community does as well. Hi, Coach Chad! This town even starts the baseball season with a parade! I’m not a fan of all the walking in the parade, but the celebration in the park afterward makes the walk worth it.

Nothing beats going to Mr. Twist after a hot day playing baseball in the park. Nothing beats going to Mr. Twist any time, really. While my sister is a big fan of Dairy Queen, she has no appreciation for hometown quality. When it as hot as an oven out, absolutely nothing is more satisfying than a good old-fashioned Mr. Twist root beer float. Obviously, they offer more than root beer floats, but we are talking about what I love!

I am fortunate enough to be raised in a town that has so much to offer. However, every town, including my own, can always make room for improvement. There are so many activities that are offered for the children, like baseball, basketball and gymnastics, and I see them advertised everywhere, but I can’t name one program offered for the veterans. There is room for improvement on this. I recommend we discuss it after my one of my baseball games over a root beer float!

Third — Calyx Wise, Holy Family

Welcome to my hometown. In my eyes, it is the best place to live. We will travel to some interesting spots that will surprise you. Hold on to you seats for the best experience ever.

The first spot of interest is the U.S. Steel plant. Granite City is noted for the steel plant. It employs many people, and it is the heart of Granite City. The steel plant sells steel worldwide. It is very impressive to see the steel plant in operation.

Our next stop will be Wilson Park. Wilson Park has many points of interest. It has an ice-skating rink, swimming pool with a slide, pool for younger children, and other water activities. Baseball and softball fields are throughout the park. The park also has tennis courts, playgrounds and a basketball court. Wilson Park is truly beautiful with fountains, flowers and a gazebo.

My favorite spot is Holy Family School. This is where I go to school. Holy Family has top-of-the-line education for students. Smartboards, computers, music program, sports, speech competitions and advanced math programs are just a few of the high points. It is a school that I can say is truly a big family.

Granite City has some special events. My favorite event is the great fireworks display and carnival in July. People come from all over the area to see these fireworks. The Labor Day parade is special; it is something that I take part in. The Christmas parade is also fun. There is a parade with all of the baseball teams in the park league that’s a lot of fun to take part in.

I am proud to be living in this great town of Granite City. The people are also a part of this town. We have friendly and caring people here. The police and firemen are very nice and are great at their jobs. The businesses in this town are great and are multiplying by the day. It is nice to support our local businesses in our great town. What more could you ask for in a place to live?

Third grade

First — Landon Harris, Frohardt

I just can’t hide my hometown pride for Granite City because it is a peaceful place to grow up in. It has famous leaders who make authoritative decisions, and has people who are proud to be productive citizens in our community. Granite City also has great restaurants, extraordinary ice cream shops, entertaining places to play, outstanding schools and remarkable events during the holidays. If a guest arrived in my community, I would suggest that they visit our finest places and experience our greatest attractions.

First, I would recommend a visitor to drive on down to Lisa’s Dairy Bar. My “go-to” treat after scoring the winning goals in my soccer game would be the amazing chocolate and vanilla twist in a cone. It is an excellent way to cool down while spending time with my teammates. Lisa’s Dairy Bar also sells soft pretzels, chips and candy like Swedish fish, Lemonheads and Laffy Taffy. Did you know that Laffy Taffy candy has funny jokes on the back of every wrapper? Which runs faster, hot or cold? Hot, everyone can catch a cold! People of all ages love going back to Lisa’s Dairy Bar because of her generous spirit. Her sweet smile and kind voice makes everyone feel special and happy inside.

Next, Paddlers Pool would be an entertaining place to take a dive. My personal favorite thing to do at Paddlers Pool is to play racing games with my friends in the deep end of the pool. The lifeguards are very well-trained and are ready to save a life any minute. Whenever you are not in the mood for swimming, you could play a fun game of tetherball or volleyball with your friends. Adult swim hours would be intriguing to an adult because they can float on a raft, relax in the sun’s heat, and not worry about getting hit in the face with a water ball and get splashed by little kids. Don’t forget to pack your swim gear and sunscreen because you’re about to go on the swim of your lifetime!

Then, after spending a long day in the sun, it would be delightful to spend an evening in the Granite City High School’s Performing Arts Center watching a theatrical production. This summer’s play is “Into the Woods.” However, if you come at Christmas time, you can attend “A Christmas Carol.” Did you know our community has been performing this play for 12 years? Thousands of people have come to see our play from faraway places. Special effects, a flying system, talented actors, and colorful costumes make the crowd adore the play. Do you know who played Tiny Time in last year’s production. Me!

Finally, I’d have to suggest a visitor experience one of our greatest attractions. You could get a front-row seat to one of our spectacular parades because I live right in the middle of the parade route. I love it when the beat of the drums from the high school band makes the ground shake as it passes by. It is so funny to watch our dogs’ heads spin around and around as they watch they Shriners’ mini go-carts speed around in circles. My grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles, cousins, puppy dogs and best friends all come to enjoy the entertaining parade and eat my dad’s tasty brats and hot dogs. Would you believe we even have freshly squeezed lemonade?

As you can see, I can’t hide my enthusiasm for my hometown of Granite City. I could write on and one about other attractions like our fabulously famous fireworks. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I feel super lucky to call Granite City my home!

Second – Lily Booker, Holy Family

If a friend was coming to visit Granite City for a day, the cool sights I would want to show them are the Alfresco Center, the swimming park, police station, fire station, Granite City Cinema, Granite City High School, Holy Family School, ice rink, Wilson Park, the Novelty Book Store, Tri-City Speedway, Holy Family Church, Legacy Golf Course, Granite City Steel, and Mr. Twist.

Why would I show my friend the Alfresco Center? It’s because I do a lot of plays there and there’s nice people there. Why would I show my friends the swimming park? It’s because it’s so pretty and in summer the cold waters soothes me because of the warm weather and it’s nice to be in the cold water. Why would I show my friend the police station? It’s because my friend’s dad is a police officer.

Why would I show my friend the fire station? It’s because my other friend’s dad works there and there are people that save our lives every day there, the same with the police station. Why would I show my friend Granite City Cinema? It’s because me, my mom and grandmother love to go see their shows and they have good popcorn. Why would I show my friend the Warriors High School? It’s because I went to a basketball camp there and their coaches were really nice; both my cousins go there and one of them was on homecoming court. My dad went there when he was in high school.

Why would I show my friend Holy Family School? It’s because I go there and the teachers there educate us very, very well there and they are nice. Why would I show my friend the ice rink? It’s because when my friends have their birthdays there I always love ice skating with my friends and my mom. Why would I show my friends Wilson Park? It’s because sometimes when I invite my friends there for a play date, I always know we will have fun!

Why would I show my friends the Novelty Book Store? It’s because they sell candy there and they have cool books that are exciting. Why would I show my friends the Tri-City Speedway? It’s because they showcase the world of outlaws sprint car racing. Why would I show my friend our Holy Family Church? It’s because we have a nice church and a nice priest and deacon.

Why would I show my friend Legacy Golf Course? It’s because my dad golfs there and it’s a nice course. Why would I show my friend Granite City Steel? It’s because I’m so happy that it’s open again and it gives people something to do for a job. And finally, why would I show my friend Mr. Twist? It’s because in the summer you can walk the park, then walk to Mr. Twist plus they have good ice cream and my friends works there!

Third – Norah Hutchings, Holy Family

I truly cannot hide my Granite City pride! If you come to Granite City, you should go to Wilson Park, Granite City Library, and my neighborhood. All of these are my favorite places in Granite City.

Wilson Park is different from all the other parks. It is different because you can walk, picnic and play. There is plenty of open space. My favorite thing at the park is the playground. I like the monkey bars because I can do flips, swing from bar to bar, and sit up high on the top.

I like the Six Mile Regional Library because I like to read. The library has all kind of books and they always have a kids’ area with games and toys. I also enjoy playing games on the computers. There are two libraries in town. I like them both, but the big one is my favorite because I can do my homework there and get paid in wooden nickels to trade in for prizes. In the summertime, there is a reading program and if you read enough you are entered in drawings for prizes. Also, in the summer they have guest speakers like scientists and animal experts.

On my street there is not a lot of traffic, so I can play in the street with my brother. I have a lot of friends in the neighborhood, so I can walk to their houses. My next-door neighborhood is a hairstylist, so when I need a haircut I just walk next door. My house is next to a lot of neat places like the library, Paddlers, Abner gas station and Farm Fresh.

There are many things I love about Granite City, but these are my favorites. I enjoy Wilson Park, the library, and my neighborhood. These are three of the reasons I cannot hide my Granite City Pride.

Second grade

First — Karson Fowler, Holy Family

Whenever I travel on vacation and people ask where I am from, I am always proud to say Granite City, Illinois. Just like Dorothy says in the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.” If one of my friends were to come visit my hometown, I would start our day off by taking them to Apple Tree for breakfast. You cannot go wrong with the world-famous Mickey Mouse pancake! Next, we would stop by Wilson Park to enjoy our day by playing football or baseball, searching for Granite City rocks, and climbing around on the playground. To end the day, we would visit Granite City Cinema to catch the latest hit movie. I have seen some of my favorite movies there. Now that sounds like an awesome day! No matter where I go in life, I will always be proud of where I came from — Granite City, Illinois.

Second — Drea Andres, Wilson

Come have fun at our excellent town where we share and meet friends and have all fun at our Good Samaritan House. I love the Great Wall (Restaurant), the skating rink and the Good Samaritan House. You will love our Great Wall Restaurant. It has great shrimp, chicken, crab and ice cream. I love the sprinkles. I call them rainbow sprinkles. I go to eat with my mom. She usually eats chicken and noodles. Sweet and sour chicken is awesome. I think you will love our roller skating rink. I got there all of the time. It’s fun. They have an arcade there and all games are hard. I roller skate to music. My mom says to listen to the music and feel the beat. I love the Good Samaritan House. We have talent shows, food and play. The talent show has teams. They are using Cheetah Girls vs. Mickey D’s. I am on the Cheetah Girls and I am the lead singer. You have to come see our spectacular show. I love my Granite City because I love the Great Wall, roller-skating and the Good Samaritan House. It’s my home and I will never leave. My mom makes the best sweet tea. Come by.

Third – Anna Taylor, Holy Family

Wilson Park is so beautiful with the flowers, little gardens and little arches over your head. Girls on the run do their practice 5Ks there. People run along Wilson Park. There is a little staircase. It is so cute. Me and my family went there to hide rocks. There is a little pond there. You can hear the birds chirping. You can see butterflies flying across the air; you should go there because of its beauty. You can swim in the pool and skate in the ice rink. There is so much to do there. The mill is important because people are getting their jobs back. It is important because they are making steel again. We need it for buildings and cars. At the Granite City football field, you can watch the Granite City Warriors games; there’s good food there and you can watch the older girls play in the soccer games and there is a tennis court, a baseball field and a volleyball court.

First grade

First – Lauren Willaredt, Wilson

Granite City is a great city. It has many neat places. These places make Granite City my home. The first place I think of when I think of Granite City is Dairy Queen. Dairy Queen is great because it is close to home, and they sometimes have free cone day. They sometimes help people in town by giving them money they make from selling ice cream. Eating ice cream to help people? What is better than that? It is a great place to go after baseball games, too.

Another place I think of is the Six Mile House. A long time ago people used to visit there. It is six miles from the river and helped travelers a hundred years ago. Once a year they have a festival there and you can tour the house. There are lots of tents where you can buy things. It is a good place for hiding rocks. There is also a little free library where you can a book or leave a book.

Finally, when I think of Granite City I always think of Wilson Park. I like playing there in the spring and summer. I like going to the garden too and looking for fish in the fountain. It’s also a good place for hiding rocks. I learned to swim from taking lessons and Wilson Park, too. In winter I got to the ice skating rink. I’m pretty good at skating. There are so many ways to have fun at Wilson Park. These places help make Granite City special. I’m glad I live in Granite City.

Second – Benjamin Laws, Holy Family

When my friends come to town, I want to show them the best in Granite City. There are many great spots, but the best three are my church, Wilson Park and Weathervane. Anyone that comes to town must attend my church. My church is fantastic, the people are nice and we take communion. After church a visit to Wilson Park will be nice. At the park you can go down the slide, you can swim at the pool and visit the fish in the pond. My friend will want a sweet treat from Weathervane after the park. Weathervane has the best shakes, ice cream cones and do not forget sprinkles. My town is special because I get to go to my church, Wilson Park and Weathervane.

Third – Selah Ratchford, St. Elizabeth

Granite City is a great place to live. If someone came to visit Granite City, I would take them to Wilson Park. We would make new friends at the playground and bring my dog Patches to play and run around. I would also take visitors to the Park Pool, and we could play on the frog slide together, splash and have fun. We would be tired from playing all day, so I would take my visitors to Mr. Twist. I would have chocolate ice cream with crunch! It would taste so good! I am proud to live in Granite City. It is my hometown and I love to live here.

Kindergarten

First — Reed Corzine, Prather

Granite City is a great place to live. If you come to visit, I have three places you should go. Jerry’s is a restaurant. I go with my family on Friday nights for dinner. They have good fish. After you eat, come by my house. We like to have people over. We have a coffee bar and two dogs. The third place is Unity Baptist Church. We go there to learn about Jesus. Granite City is a great place every day for me. I love going to Prather and seeing my friends and teachers. I like going to gymnastics class at the Brown Rec. The high school has great plays for me to watch. In the fall, I watch the football games on Friday nights. I love listening to the band at the high school basketball games. In the summer we go to Wilson Park. I like to swim at the pool. The frog slide is fun. This summer I will be tall enough to slide down the big blue slide! We also go to the park on the Fourth of July. The fireworks are very colorful and loud. Lots of people come to watch. My favorite thing about Granite City is the people, like my neighbors. I love Mr. Jimmy and Ms. Marge. Granite City is a great place to live.

Second – Elliott Carr, Prather

I love the Fourth of July carnival because I like the Ferris wheel. I love Wilson Park because they have monkey bars and the ice skating rink. I like when I play T-ball and get a Dilly Bar at Dairy Queen.

Third – Penny Greene, St. Elizabeth

Granite City is a great place to live. My favorite place to eat is Ravanelli’s. They have yummy chicken strips. Mr. Twist has the best ice cream in town. There are lots of activities for kids to do. I play soccer, softball, and cheerleading. My absolute favorite thing to do in Granite City is go rock-hunting in the Wilson Park Garden.

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