Dome aimed at making Allerton experience warmer

The appearance of an igloo at Allerton Park and Retreat Center – even if it is made mostly of plastic instead of blocks of ice – seems appropriate as frigid temperatures continue in Piatt County this week.

The geodesic dome was purchased and placed on the wetland boardwalk earlier this month and will be available to rent in three-hour blocks from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, with two-hour daytime blocks also available Saturdays and Sundays. It has seating for six, and debuted during a recent employee party at the park. Director Derek Peterson said since that time it was also used as a warmer way to view the recent blood red moon lunar eclipse.

“Winter is a more difficult time to get people to come out due to the cold, and it gets dark early, so my vision is to get people out here in the winter, which is our slower season,” said Peterson. “You get to facilitate something with them where they can still see nature.”

He had seen domes at other locations, mostly rooftop restaurants, and felt it could be a fit for the park.

Rated for up to 30 mile per hour winds, it’s a structure that is anchored down but can also be moved “fairly easy,” according to Peterson. The plastic can be replaced with summer netting to let breezes in if it is used during warmer weather.

But don’t expect it to keep you toasty warm with the 15-below-zero degree temperatures forecasted for this week. The small heater is aimed more at taking the edge off, while the plastic cuts down on the wind chill. The geodesic shape makes it heat more evenly, but Peterson was not sure how cold it could be outside and remain comfortable in the igloo. He did note that manufacturer’s specifications say that it requires roughly 40 percent less heating in winter than a standard greenhouse due to its shape.

The Wetlands Boardwalk is a wooden walkway located between the Allerton Mansion/Retreat Center and the Visitor’s Center, and includes a view of the mansion, pond, and plenty of forest.

Park officials tout the dome on their website as a way to plan a “special night out with your sweetheart” or to use as a “creative workspace.”

There are also three throw blankets included in dome rentals, with attendees either bringing their own food or arranging to have it catered by Allerton’s Greenhouse Cafe.

For now, the igloo is only available by reservation only. No alcohol is allowed.

“As we figure it out we may start a walk-in situation, but we don’t know how it will be received,” added Peterson.

More info
For more information, call the park at 217-333-3287.


Categories (2):News, Parks and Recreation


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