Forest City Queen has summer makeover

She’s blue and green and looking so serene gliding down the mighty Rock River.

The Forest City Queen has a new paint job and a totally different appearance than any time in her 26-year history.

“We wanted to give new life to our special riverboat, so we decided on bright blue and green so she’d really stand out on the river,” explained Jay Sandine, manager of Forest City Queen operations. “We introduced the new specialty dinner rides last year, but with the river being closed most of the summer, people were just beginning to discover the fabulous new meal cruises, and we’re going to offer more of those fine dining experiences,” he added.

River District Catering is providing gourmet fare as well as family-friendly choices. The Friday Night Fish Fry Cruise sold out last year, so this season a new “early bird” dinner is featured at 4:30 p.m. in addition to the 7 p.m. cruise. The menu is Atlantic White Fish, roasted potatoes, all the trimmings and dessert while you cruise the Rock River.

Family Fun Nights are offered Wednesdays with pizza and the best seat on the river for Ski Broncs water ski shows.

Saturday evening sunset dinner cruises set sail twice a month with exquisite, upscale dinner cruises featuring Tuscan sauteed chicken breast, chateaubriand, roasted tenderloin of beef, island grilled mahi mahi filet, and bacon wrapped pork filet. Beer, wine, and soft drink beverages from Coca-Cola are also available for passengers to purchase.

To make reservations for dinner cruises or to receive more information, call 987-8894 (TTY-963-DEAF). Dinner cruise reservations must be made at least three days in advance of the schedule date. The Forest City Queen has a wheelchair lift to assist passengers and has an assistive listening device available to ensure effective communication of narrated tours; please call 987-1600 (voice/TTY) 48 hours in advance to reserve.

History and facts

The Forest City Queen made her maiden voyage Aug. 8, 1979. She was a gift to the Rockford Park District by two local banks, The First National Bank & Trust Co. and North Towne National Bank, with a grant of $47,000 to build the boat and assist with financial expenses for five years of operations. Since 1979, the Forest City Queen has ferried about 300,000 passengers.

The Forest City Queen is 48 feet long, has a steel hull, and seats 49 passengers plus two crew members. She is equipped with a wheelchair lift. In 2001, she underwent major repairs of the steel hull by volunteers, with local companies donating $50,000 in time and materials to make her river-worthy once again.

From the May 25-31, 2005, issue

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