DeKALB – There weren’t any bad seats, but Bob and Joy Hadley had two of the best on Friday evening.
The DeKalb residents carried their lawn chairs to the barren northeast corner of Lincoln Highway and Fourth Street to take in the largest-ever Lincoln Highway Parade. They didn’t know anyone marching, but they wanted to be part of the community experience.
“I think it’s great. I can’t believe all the units here, and all the things that they’ve got,” Bob said from his seat just yards from the railroad crossing. “And there’s only been two trains so far.”
The Hadleys and hundreds of others descended on Lincoln Highway in downtown DeKalb to take in the fourth annual parade as part of a week of Kishwaukee Fest events.
Director Michael Embrey said this year’s procession was the biggest yet.
“The community is starting to embrace it,” Embrey said. “We really are pushing for that community down-home parade. It’s not the big glitz of a Chicago parade ... but we have all local people.”
Embrey said that in its first year the parade had 65 organizations and has since grown to include 90 participants.
“For a fourth year, that’s not too bad,” he said.
The crowds were treated to rock bands on trailers, Boy Scout troops, skateboarders, shriners driving miniaturized mock jet fighters, marching politicians, Hispanic folk dancers and floats designed by local businesses.
Marissa Caltagerone, of Alexis Kay Designs, enlisted the help of two design interns to turn a Jeep Wrangler into a post-wedding honeymooners vehicle, complete with a bride, a “Just Married” sign and cans tied to the back bumper.
“We just opened about six months ago, so it’s our first time in the parade,” Caltagerone said.
Payton Meyers, a recent graduate of the National Guard’s Advanced Individual Training program and a Marengo native, took the role of parade marshall in a salute to women serving in the military.
In the weeks leading up to the parade and even in the moments right before it stepped off from the intersection of Seventh and Taylor streets, Hinckley native Jacki Prusa was in the middle of it all.
“It’s a little hectic,” Prusa said of her fourth year as the parade organizer. “But it’s not too bad, because I get to meet so many fun people.”