Members of the Emerson Street YMCA, formed in the days of segregation, will be speaking on May 22 as another part of the McGaw YMCA celebration.

Getting your Evanston news from Facebook? Try the Evanston RoundTable’s free daily and weekend email newsletters – sign up now!

This month the McGaw YMCA kicks off a year-long celebration of its 125th anniversary in the Evanston community.

 “The range of events planned over [the coming] 12 months is a time of reunion and reconnecting for individuals and families. Their individual biographies are touched by the McGaw Y and their collective experience is the experience of the whole community,” says Bill Geiger, president and CEO of the McGaw YMCA.

Events include a kick-off gala celebration on Jan. 23, “Back (and) to the Future” that will include a video presentation created by Evanston filmmaker, Susan Hope Engel, commemorating the 125th anniversary. The annual Brillianteen production will come up in March, as will as the Alumni Review, this year to be held on March 13. The show will include skits by former Brillianteen cast members, as well as singing and dancing hits from iconic Broadway shows. 

Doors to the McGaw YMCA will open wider on April 17, when the community is invited in to flex muscles and break a sweat on Healthy Kids Day. The event spotlights demonstrations in wellness and healthy eating. Toasts to the
Emerson Street Y will be raised on
May 22, when distinguished former members will speak on the impact of this historic and significant establishment on the Evanston community. 
“The mutual embracing of and by Emerson Street Y is a deepening expression of inclusion. Everyone is welcome,” adds Mr. Geiger.   

In the summer, the Y will participate in the annual 4th of July parade, and a reunion is planned for participants in the well-loved Y Clubs, some of whom still meet today.  August brings a golf-and-tennis-outing reunion of the Adventure Guides (formerly Indian Guides and Princesses) at a multi-generational picnic and campout.

 The cultural diversity that Evanston embraces will be highlighted in December at the International Family Festival, another community-wide celebration.  December also means a reunion for Camp Echo veterans who will reunite for dinner at a local venue.

 “I am excited and maybe a little exhausted just thinking about this year,” says Mr. Geiger, a life-long Y member and Evanston native.  Mr. Geiger said, “Chances are you or someone you know has been involved with the Y in some way – we invite everyone to reconnect with us.”

 General chairs of the 125th anniversary year are Patty and Bob Reece and Jan and Tom Hazlett, who say, “We are honored to be a part of this celebration.  The two Y’s have been an integral part of our lives and, because of the Y’s influence, giving back has been a pleasure.”

 Send contact information or any Y stories to share to or call Juliet Garrard, 847-475-7400, ext. 261.