RANTOUL - The Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce is moving Independence Day activities from Wabash Park and other sites to the former Chanute Air Force Base.
The chamber's board of directors voted 7-0 Thursday to move its July 4 events to the area east and south of Rantoul's new family aquatic center, which opened in July.
Chamber Executive Director Joe Bolser said the establishment of a central location will be an improvement from last year, when participants had to drive from one end of town to another to take part in different activities.
?I think it will help all of us make the Fourth of July better, rather than spreading things all over creation,? Bolser said.
Under the new plans, the morning Independence Day parade would be the primary event still held in northern Rantoul.
?We never did have much parking at Wabash Park,? Bolser said. ?Not only will our new site be more centrally located, but there will be more than enough parking for everybody.?
Rantoul Recreation Director Rich Thomas said softball tournaments will be held all day on two fields just south of the pool, a baseball tournament is scheduled at an adjacent field, and he is working on booking a soccer tournament for one of the fields used later in the summer by the Illini football training camp.
Chamber President Lori Shields said the new setup will help showcase Rantoul's new outdoor swimming complex to village residents and visitors.
?I think the aquatic center will go gangbusters with a huge crowd,? Thomas said.
Bolser said he is in the process of booking a carnival for the entire week. The carnival would be set up on an open field south of the aquatic center parking lot.
The chamber hopes to set up a giant tent on nearby tennis courts where village officials are considering building a skate park.
?We want to have tables and chairs and a place for people to get some shade if it is a hot day,? Shields said.
Children's games would also be held in the tennis court area.
Bolser said the chamber has invited the Rantoul Fire Department to hold water balloon competitions just east of the carnival site.
Board members also agreed to invite the Rantoul Rotary Club to move its annual pancake breakfast from the Rantoul Civic Center to a south Rantoul site. Some options would include the Rantoul Recreation Center, the tent at the tennis courts or even the old Fanmarker building if the village hasn't sold it by then.
Rantoul Rotary President John Peck said his club's directors are discussing the possibility of moving the breakfast to a new site.
The Rantoul fireworks display will take place a few blocks east of the carnival at the Rantoul airport.
Bolser said tentative plans call for shooting the fireworks from the area of the swoop pond used by the World Free Fall Convention.