KIRKLAND – Things had come full circle Wednesday for Jenny Robbins and Kim Kreitinger during the Kirkland Lions Club’s Fourth of July parade.
The two friends, once regular participants in the parade while growing up in Kirkland, watched cars and floats go by with their own children. Neither lives in the area any longer – Kreitinger resides in Madison, Wis., while Robbins lives in San Diego – but they chose to return for the holiday celebration and expose their young children to the parade.
Wednesday morning’s parade was one of the main attractions during the Kirkland Lions Club’s 64th consecutive Fourth of July celebration.
The festival – which began Saturday and continued Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday – also featured live music, carnival rides, a flea market, food vendors and fireworks Wednesday night.
With steady sunshine and temperatures in the upper 90s, parade-goers found shade and breeze where they could. Hundreds of people parked themselves along Main Street, setting up chairs, blankets, tents and umbrellas.
Many snagged a spot early Wednesday to ensure a good view of the parade, or, for those with young children, easy candy-catching. Some in the parade sprayed or squirted water at the crowd.
An honor guard led the parade, followed by Kirkland Lions Club members, emergency vehicles, bands, local businesses, elected officials and political hopefuls.
David and Denise Haskell of Cherry Valley have come to Kirkland to watch the parade for 36 years. They enjoy the hometown feel of the parade and the pork chop dinner that follows it. As old pros, they set up a canopy tent to keep cool.
“We’ve been doing this for a few years, so we know how to do it,” David Haskell said with a laugh.
When asked what the significance of the holiday is, David Haskell didn’t hesitate.
“It’s right there,” he said, pointing to a flag hanging from the tent depicting war memorials and the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action icon. The Haskells always stop to visit the Northern Illinois Veterans Memorial at South and Third streets. David Haskell said it’s important to recognize those that have given their all for their country.
Just before the parade began, Lions Club members grilled about 1,800 pork chops in preparation for the popular dinner. Member Jim Woodward said that’s less than they’ve cooked in the past, as festival attendance seemed to be affected by the week’s high temperatures.
Selling cinnamon-roasted nuts, vendor Marvin Dunn also said attendance at the festival seemed to be down compared to previous years, and attributed that to the heat.
“If [people] don’t come out today, this is going to be a failed event,” he said of business.
Tom Mahon of Byron sat in the shade while his wife, Dorothy, shopped. Mahon said he’s a member of his local Lions Club and likes to support fellow Lions.
They planned to watch the parade, get lunch afterward, “and then we’ll head for air conditioning,” he said.
Sharon Schreier, whose husband, Jack, is a Kirkland Lions Club member, said traditionally, people come out to the festival and stay for the day. But with Wednesday’s heat, they hoped those who headed home for the afternoon would return for the fireworks.
As she sells raffle tickets during the fireworks show, Schreier said it amazes her to find out where people have traveled from, including Rochelle, Leaf River and Maple Park.
“We have one of the best fireworks around for a small town,” Jack Schreier said. “... I think for a small town community, it draws a lot of people.”
DeKalb and Shabbona also celebrated the holiday with fireworks.