Genuine Northwest, Cabin Fever Edition

Check out these unique destinations that reflect the genuine character of our region

Hebron Basketball Water Tower

12101 Illinois Route 173, Hebron

Hebron High School made history in 1952 when it became the smallest high school ever to win the state championship. Their record still stands today.

Those were the days before schools were placed into divisions by size. With fewer than 100 students, in a town of just more than 600 people, Hebron’s Green Giants bested much-larger schools. They took down Centralia, Rockford West, Quincy and Thornton – all teams who at the time were ranked among the best in the state. For nine out of 13 statewide polls that year, the Green Giants were ranked No. 1.

The championship game, in March 1952, pitted Hebron against the mighty Quincy High School. Hebron starters Phil and Paul Judson, Bill Schulz, Ken Spooner and Don Wilbrandt kept the pressure on Quincy and forced them into overtime. The Green Giants stayed alive and finished the game 64-59 to capture the state title.

The Green Giants finished their memorable season with a 35-1 record, having lost only to Crystal Lake High School.

Nearly 70 years later, Hebron’s water tower, painted like a basketball, stands as tribute to its mighty state champions. Standing near the intersection of Illinois Routes 173 and 47, the tower can be seen for miles in any direction. Last summer, it received a fresh coat of paint and a slightly updated look.

DeKalb Memorial Park/Soldiers & Sailors Clock

101 E. Lincoln Hwy., DeKalb

Set along the scenic Lincoln Highway, on a busy intersection downtown, this memorial is a silent reminder of those who’ve fought and died in service to our country.

Standing at the park’s center is a tall green and gilded clock first installed in DeKalb in 1921 and dedicated to residents who fought and died in World War I. Set at its current location since 1996, the clock has been restored several times.

The clock is set among landscaping, a brick pathway and benches. In the backdrop, painted on the side of the adjacent building, is a collage mural celebrating the life of Annie Glidden, whose uncle Joseph Glidden developed a form of barbed wire. Annie was a local philanthropist and farmer, and is the namesake of DeKalb’s Annie Glidden Road.

Set at the back part of the Memorial Park, behind a row of tall evergreens, sits a World War II tank that arrived in DeKalb in 1949 and is affectionately dubbed “Donna.”

“No one knew its name was Donna until it was restored several years ago,” says Brad Hoey, interim sales and marketing director at the DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Traditionally, tanks were named after a girlfriend, wife or mother of one of the soldiers.”

Fox Valley Ice Arena

1996 Kirk Road, Geneva, (630) 262-0690,

Located on Geneva’s far-east side, this ice arena is a year-round destination for cold-weather fun and much more. Inside are a sporting goods store, a fitness center, and a pub and grill, but the main attraction is this facility’s twin ice arenas. One is a 200-by-85-foot NHL regulation-sized rink, while the other is a 200-by-100-foot international scale rink.

Athletic programs range from learn to skate classes for kids all the way up to recreational and competitive hockey leagues for youths and adults. Figure skaters of all levels train at the arena, including Team USA members like Isabelle Martins. Her coach, Rockne Brubaker, is Fox Valley arena’s skate school director.

In addition to hosting Aurora University’s Spartans men’s and women’s hockey teams, Fox Valley arena is home to the U.S. Hockey League’s Chicago Steel, a Tier 1 junior hockey league for players 16 to 20 years old. The league recruits from more than 35 states and nine countries.

The Spring Ice Show, held the first weekend of May, brings out the arena’s wide variety of skating talent, from its learn to skate to its competitive programs.

Public skate is available, but hours vary, so call ahead or check online.