Exciting New Playground Project at Harvester Park in Burr Ridge

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Big things are happening at Harvester Park in Burr Ridge! I met with Jim Pacanowski, Director of Parks & Recreation at Burr Ridge Park District, this afternoon to get the details for an amazing Route 66 Playground going in to the west of the center bridge. He has been planning the project for the last few years and is now managing the project in addition to physically working on parts of it himself. Jim has a passion and talent for creating fun and functional spaces for our families! The uniqueness and creativity in this project blew me away.

The design is a thematic trip down Historic Route 66, with roadside attractions from each of the eight states it passes through. The landmarks are reimagined with play in mind. Almost everything is custom designed and custom made, drawing from talent across the country.

Route 66 originally went past the southern border of Harvester Park, which why the theme is so fitting. Route 66 enthusiasts will marvel at all the details woven in and kids are going to love playing at such a unique and colorful playground while learning about the historic route with its geography and attractions.

Route 66 Playground at Harvester Park in Burr Ridge

Keep reading for a preview of each section of the new playground.


A 30-foot Willis Tower stands on the other side of the existing bridge between the two playground sections. It will have a 16-foot tube slide, with each section representing a leg of the highway that replaced Route 66 across Illinois. There will also be a 6-foot slide with a network of tubes within the tower, along with stairs on the side. Underneath the tower, aka in the basement, there will be switches and other manipulatives that kids can turn and press to pretend to operate the building.


In honor of Meramec Caverns, home to the world’s rarest cave formation, there will be boulders for climbing and sitting.


Jim Pacanowski stands next to Tow Mater (makes for a great photo op!)

Don’t miss Tow Mater from Cars! This handmade car replica is so cool. You are welcome to take photos with him or climb on the hood. As the sign at the playground says, “Popular legend claims that Tow Mater’s design was based on a truck that lifted mining equipment in Cherokee County, Kansas.”


Have you seen this iconic whale? The Blue Whale of Catoosa is a popular roadside attraction in Oklahoma and now your kids can climb over or through the whale tunnel at Harvester Park.


Cadillac benches will represent the public art installation and sculpture in Texas called Cadillac Ranch.

New Mexico

Santa Rosa, New Mexico has 20 lakes and sink holes which all link up hundreds of feet underground. So in the New Mexico section of the playground, you can jump on one of three small in-ground trampolines. They are so fun and bounce smooth. (I had fun bouncing on them this afternoon!) The metal frame shown in the photo will be surrounded by the rubber playground surface to make it flush with the ground.


A rotating climber represents Wigwam Village in Arizona and there are also boulders with striating patterns to represent the Painted Desert. With the rubber surface sloping down between the rocks, younger kids can get the sensation of walking down into a canyon and looking at the stone above.


The playground experience ends at Santa Monica with boogie boards, a wood pier, and the existing tilted rotating merry-go-round, which has always been a favorite. The rubber surface will be thicker in that area since kids will be challenging their balancing skills on the elevated boogie boards.


The exiting zipline that everyone loves will be staying. As you zoom from the bridge to the end, you can now think of it as the interstate that will take you across the country!

The attention to detail in this new Route 66 playground is impressive, from the eight custom colored rubber surfaces unique to each state section to the plants chosen to reflect different environments. You won’t find anything else like it! I can’t wait to see it finished, which will be sometime in June 2022. It’s currently fenced in and under construction, but you can check out the progress while enjoying the rest of the park. Once the rubber surface is poured, the project will really pop!

Other Features of Harvester Park

Play music in the barn! There is also a train to sit on to the left of this photo.

The treehouse at Harvester Park is iconic and a fun place for imaginative play. There are also great climbing opportunities up to the bridge behind the tree.

These latches, wheels, and buttons are fun, especially for little ones!

Harvester Park brings sand play to a new level with pulleys, a conveyor belt, and screw auger.

The digging area has nice shade while your kids are discovering fossils.

There is a small splash pad for warm days.

Climb up to the lookout for a nice view of the prairie.

Harvester Park has been recognized in our list of the top playgrounds in our area every year as it keeps evolving and getting even better! Check out the list of the Best Playgrounds in the Western Suburbs. We are currently in the midst of playground voting and we would love to hear your picks! Click here to share your favorite playgrounds.

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