The year was 1899. Renowned psychologist Doctor Francis, disgusted with the inhumane practices in place at the Danvers State Hospital, decided to leave his position at the so-called "Hospital Hell" and start his own clinic in his family's backyard. For six months, all seemed perfect for the Francis family and their 13 patients. But the doctor was so consumed in his work that he failed to see the tragedy that was befalling his beloved wife and daughter. By the time he could tear himself from his clinic, it was too late—his family was dead. Half crazed by guilt and grief, the once kind-hearted doctor forgot his patients, dooming them to neglect and starvation, and dooming himself to a grisly death that awaited him once his wards escaped from behind the asylum's doors.
Today, the scene of this terrible tragedy draws thrill-seekers to brave the halls of the mansion where the ghosts of Dr. Francis and his family linger on. Those foolish enough to ignore the warnings from the guardian at the door endure more than 25,000 square feet of twists and turns, coming face to face with more than 60 terrifying specters and at least one jaw-dropping hospital bill. Those lucky enough to survive the mansion can head home to hide under their beds––but only if fate smiles twice and guides them safely past the tortured souls still confined in the backyard insane asylum.
One fish peeks out inquisitively from behind a lichen-covered tank. Others swim through the windows and railings of a sunken ship, passing odd artifacts such as an electric guitar or a sign reading "Tricycle parking only." Surreal scenes like these aren’t accessible to most landlubbers, but they’re part of a worldwide subaquatic playground for Dive Right In’s students and staff of certified dive instructors and instructor trainers. An SDI, ERDi, and TDI five-star instructor training facility, the shop is helmed by teachers who coach their customers to achieve RTSC standards, and employ many of the same skills they use to train police, fire department, and lifeguard dive teams.
Among the caves and wrecks of local quarries and Lake Michigan, instructors prepare their trainees to dive down as far as 60 feet, the farthest depth at which they can guarantee there’ll be no sea monsters. They also lead courses in TDI technical diving, diver First-Aid, and specialty certifications such as adventure or rescue diver. Inside the dive shop, techs sell and repair masks, snorkels, wetsuits, and gear such as dive computers, regulators, and tanks.
As the reigning Midwest Collegiate League champions, the CrackerJacks pour onto the diamond at Brennan Field set to defend their title while showcasing some of the country's top collegiate ballplayers. A year ago—during the inaugural season for both the team and the league—the CrackerJacks established themselves as a spring of talent, sending nine recruits to the league's first-ever all-star game. During 23 home games this season, including five Sunday matchups, fans can scout the club's refreshed roster of up-and-comers, who will remain with the 'Jacks until they head back to their university programs or until they grow too big to fit into Brennan Field's dugouts.
As the Plainfield community has grown, so has its park district. Although the district was established in 1966, a population boom in the early '90s led to more diversified facilities, each one with different features. The Ottawa Street Pool, for example, invites visitors to bask in 200,000 gallons of crystal-blue water with diving boards and lap lanes, while the Normantown Trails Equestrian Center offers horseback-riding lessons and neighing tutorials in an indoor arena.
The 18-hole, par 72 Fox Bend Golf Course spans 6,890 yards of kempt fairways and rolling greens to form a well-maintained grassy monolith that has played host to three Illinois Opens and a 2010 USGA qualifier. Throughout the lush links, mature trees frame short-grass corridors peppered with a total of 34 sand traps and frequent water hazards that complicate each spheroid's passage onto slick, boldly contoured greens. Take a virtual course tour to begin preparing for the 175-yard shot needed to clear the par 3 15th's deep bunker fortifications while still landing the ball on the hole's relatively shallow green. Hone your fairway wood game to set up an eagle putt on Fox Bend's signature par-5 fifth hole, where bold duffers reckon with a watery ravine that sits right in front of the green and subsists on the souls of mishit orbs.