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Sycamore Pumpkin Festival draws regulars and newcomers

The Sycamore Pumpkin Festival is so special to Jim Oczkowski’s family that they call it a noncalendar holiday.

Oczkowski was camped out with family and friends at their “marked” spot for the festival’s hour and a half long parade Sunday, which traveled through downtown Sycamore.

The family hosts a chili cook-off during Sycamore Pumpkin Festival weekend every year at their house, which is within walking distance of the parade.

“It’s a Sycamore holiday,” Oczkowski said. “That’s why we started doing it.”

Dozens of floats participated in the parade. Spectators saw everything from horse-drawn carriages and golf carts to dancers and marching bands.

Oregon resident Linda Connelly was watching the parade with her 2½-year-old grandson, who she only gets to see twice a month.

It was Connelly’s first time at the parade.

Her grandson pointed out a man dressed as a duck and a monster truck during the event.

“I’m seeing things through his eyes,” Connelly said. “You see things differently [with a young child]. He saw the duck before I saw it.”

Local business, organizations and politicians had floats. The Aurora Area Shrine Club drove around in mini go-carts while waving to spectators.

North Aurora resident Sheri Lundell was watching the festivities with her husband and daughter.

The family was watching the parade to see their daughter, 15, play the mellophone, a marching French horn, with the West Aurora Blackhawks Marching Band.

The band travels to various area parades, but this was their biggest parade so far this year, Lundell said.

“It’s at least 10 times bigger than any of the parades we’ve seen,” she said. “It’s a lot of work marching. It takes a lot of muscle.”

Sycamore resident David Kolzow’s muscles were sore while he was watching the parade. That’s because Kolzow ran the Sycamore Pumpkin Run 10K Road Race on Sunday morning.

However, the soreness couldn’t keep him away from the parade.

“The community gets together for the parade,” he said. “It’s a good, family-friendly activity where you can bring your kids.

“When everyone is active and participating, it brings people together. I think that’s what draws the whole event. It brings the community together.”

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