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Park History

Oliver Thomas Park

Oliver Thomas Park is an eight acre tract of land located on Caroline Street in
Sunnyland and contains two ball diamonds. Beatrice K. Swann and her husband
Roy J. transferred title to the property to the Sundoer Civic Club on November 1,
1951. The Sundoer Civic Club was a Sunnyland not-for-profit organization
pledged to community betterment. Its name was derived from Sunnyland and
Doerr Subdivisions which, at that time, comprised the majority of “Sunnyland”.
Not only was the Sundoer Club instrumental in the creation of Oliver Thomas
Park, it, along with the Robein Men’s Club, was the impedance for the creation of
the Northern Tazewell Fire Protection District. The Sundoer Civic Club was
officially dissolved on September 2, 1964.

Boy Scout Troop # was the prime developer of the Sundoer property and the park
was named for Oliver Wendell Thomas, a Sunnyland Boy Scout leader that was
killed September 13, 1949 in an explosion at the Hiram Walker Distillery in
Peoria. He was born to Robert W. and Cara C. Thomas in Johnson County, Illinois
on May 18, 1917 and came to Peoria in the late 1930s. After serving in United
States Marine Corps as a Sargent he returned to Hiram Walker and resided in

A softball field was developed and the park became the home field to the
Sunnyland Lettes for the 1956, 1957 and 1958 seasons. The Lettes, under the
tutelage of Chuck McCord, were State Champions in 1957. Caterpillar ceased
sponsoring the Dieselettes in 1955 and the team moved to Sunnyland for three
years before moving to Pekin.

The Northern Tazewell Recreation Association was established in 1958 and under
the direction of George “Butch” Carson lights were added and a second ballfield
established. Today the NTRA provides baseball, softball, T-ball, soccer and
basketball programs to over 500 area youth. The NTRA is a volunteer 501(c)3 non
for-profit organization operated by volunteers and funded by local businesses.

Information provided from the East Peoria Historical Society by:
Frank Borror
[email protected]


300 Carolina St. 
Washington, Illinois 61571

Email: [email protected]

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