A passion for parks is what keeps members of the Swansea Patriots dedicated to their cause of raising money for permanent improvements to village parks.
"It's all about trying to do something positive for the parks," said President Bill Saak, a village trustee.
Swansea Patriots is a small organization with only a dozen active members, including Saak, Vice President Marilyn Neumeyer and member Sandy Beimfohr, a local insurance agent.
Both Neumeyer and Beimfohr are founding members of the organization, which formed in 1986 in celebration of Swansea's centennial. Saak has been involved in the group for 15 years.
For the last 25 years, members of the Swansea Patriots have been organizing an annual auction to raise money for improvements to village parks. Since its first auction in 1988, the nonprofit group has raised more than $400,000 for Swansea parks.
These funds have brought several additions to the Swansea park system, including the roller rink, pavilion, climbing wall and walking trail at Melvin Price Memorial Park and the Swansea Kingdom playground and splash pad at Schranz Park.
Neumeyer said the Swansea Patriots' Camelot Dinner Auction raises about $16,000 to $18,000 a year.
This year's auction will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at the C.K.L. of I., 2800 N. Illinois St. Tickets are $35 and include dinner catered by Bellecourt. Tickets for the event are only available through Nov. 2.
Radio disc jockey Paul Cook from Y98 will be this year's master of ceremonies, and Schumacher Auction Services in Belleville will serve as the auctioneer.
Items up for auction this year include an iPad 3, two tickets to "Wicked" at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, an autographed baseball, tickets to sporting events as well as vacation getaways including rental of a condo in Florida.
The group is still accepting donations for its Camelot Auction. "There's going to be something everyone likes," Neumeyer said.
The improvements the Swansea Patriots group makes to village parks are often suggested by the Park Board, a recommending board for the village, according to Saak.
Swansea Patriots meets at 7 p.m. the second Wednesday of every month from June to December at the Normal Lehr Community Center at Melvin Price Park. The meeting, and membership to the group, is open to the public.
There's only one requirement to be a member of the Swansea Patriots, according to Beimfohr. "You have to be interested in the parks," she said.
For more information about the Swansea Patriots, contact Saak at 604-4859 or e-mail email@example.com.
Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or firstname.lastname@example.org.