It's unlikely that any historic kingdom had batting cages and water slides, but to be fair, Knight's Action Park is a lot more fun than an actual castle. On one side of the park, guests can don swimsuits and hop aboard bumper boats, slip down slides, or set out in paddle boats. Seven mini slides teach smaller children the fun of water-park attractions, while statues of giant sea creatures teach them that life is terrifying. Across the way, a 50-tee driving range lets golfers hone their swing, and an 18-hole mini-golf course caters to putters of all ages. The park's assortment of land-based amusements also includes a Ferris wheel, an arcade, and go-karts.
The Joliet Park District sprawls across more than 1,000 acres, engaging visitors with everything from sports to nature. Guests can wander through the foliaged paths of the Pilcher Park Nature Center and the organic community garden, or treat their senses to the floral colors and aromas that fill the bird-haven greenhouse. The 10,000-seat Joliet Memorial Stadium hosts high-school and college sporting events, while a dozen athletic fields fill with recreational players hitting baseballs, catching softballs, and spiking soccer balls when the referee isn't looking. During the summer, inner tubes transport patrons down Joliet Splash Station's high-speed water slides and 865-foot lazy river, and the glittery strands of Fourth of July fireworks color the skies above the stadium.
Joe Montalto was riding high after his first-place finish in the Illinois state wakeboarding championship. It was one step away from national recognition and sponsorship, and he hit the water hard to prepare. Joe was mastering a front flip 180 when he missed the wake and landed in the flat water, tearing his ACL and ending any chance he had at competing professionally. After such a career-altering accident, no one would have blamed him for leaving the sport, but he defied expectation. After years of rehabilitation with his wakeboard, Joe still rides the water regularly and spends each summer inducting new riders into the sport he loves with his company, Ride Lab Wakeboard School. He and his cousin, Cody Jarosch, lead groups onto the water to catch their first jump inside the wake. He also coaches competitive boarders for more serious competition, hosts summer camps, coaches collegiate clubs in between private lessons, and demos Ronix gear for anyone. In addition to his wakeboard lessons, Joe designs clothing bearing Ride Lab's insignia and shoots and edits film for his riders.
The Kankakee County Speedway, roaring into its 62nd season, rouses racing fans with a full schedule of supersonic events. Competitors from a wide range of divisions, including stock cars, sport compacts, and pro late models, descend upon the course determined to scorch their name into the track's storied history and rack up points, which are needed to win championships or purchase novelty-size tire gauges. The speedway boasts a long list of legends, such as Tommy Kroll, who has won six track championships in four different decades. Additionally, autograph sessions after select events soup up memorabilia collections, and children 10 years of age and younger gain free admission upon stating their birthday or proving they can drive a stick shift.
Amid the echoes of squealing tires and humming engines, the grandstands barely have a moment to enjoy any silence. That's because the facility plays host to big ticket racing events such as O?Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals, Hollywood Casino Joliet Route 66 Classic, Rockett Brand Racing Fuel ET Bracket Series, and the annual Swap Meet. At the Dirt Oval, fans can satisfy their auto-crunching desires with events such as Monster Truck Mayhem and Team Demolition Derby.
Not limited to spectator races, Route 66 Raceway puts fans' racing pedal to the metal at over 40 drag strip events. Test & Tune events allow thrill seekers to burn a little rubber by racing their own vehicles, while Friday Nights at 66 have trained staff teach prospective dragsters the ropes of racing.
In 2011, the Slammers capped their inaugural season by rising from the ashes of the now-defunct Joliet JackHammers to claim the Frontier League championship. This year, the team begins its quest for a second title by playing their rivals, the Traverse City Beach Bums. 2011 All-Star Game MVP Erik Lis swings for the fences in hopes of topping last season's 20 home runs and 77 RBI. Similarly trustworthy at the plate, infielder Hector Pellot led the team last year with a .319 batting average. Before the opening day game, the team will take to the field for a ring ceremony commemorating last season's championship. The celebration provides a perfectly good excuse for the post-game fireworks display, which is intended to entertain fans and trick a local parliament of owls into thinking the sky wars have begun. In addition, attendees receive a magnet schedule to stay apprised of the Slammers' upcoming games as well as Slammers loot, which can be used as cash inside Silver Cross Field or aboard any pirate vessels docked in the parking lot.