SYCAMORE – Sunday’s annual Sycamore Pumpkin Festival parade was a two-hour spectacle of community participation, Halloween fun and hometown pride.
“It’s a love fest,” said DeKalb County Board Member Misty Haji-Sheikh, D-7th Dist., who attended the parade with her husband, Michael.
Crowds lined each street of the estimated 2½-mile-long parade route, which meandered through a southeast section of town. It began near Somonauk Street and Borden Avenue and ended at Southeast Elementary School.
“Everybody comes, and they’re excited,” said Haji-Sheikh. “They wave and shake [parade participants’] hands. Little kids give you high-fives. It’s just so much fun.”
Glenn and Laura Pryzbyla enjoyed the parade from the portable chairs they pitched near the corner of Lincoln and Main streets. Their daughter, Abbie, had a comfy seat in her dad’s lap. The Cortland residents said it was their first year attending the parade – and likely not their last.
“We like it a lot, to be close to home and to enjoy a short drive over here,” said Glenn Pryzbyla. “The parade is very nice and very convenient.”
Abbie said she enjoyed the Shriners, who whirled through in the parade in tiny, colorful cars. Both she and Dad got the biggest kick out of the dogs that trotted through wearing costumes.
“Yeah, those were funny, too,” said Abbie, who plans to dress up as a mermaid for Halloween.
Marching bands came from all over the region to participate in this year’s parade, held on a seasonably warm fall day under a clear, blue sky. DeKalb’s middle schools’, and Kaneland’s and Sandwich’s marching bands, were among the local ones who participated. Shabbona’s Indian Creek High School band featured only 10 musicians, but were high-stepping with big sound.
The marching Blackhawks of West Aurora High School were among the bands who made a longer trek to be in the parade. After driving for more than an hour to Sycamore, Forreston High School band director Tyler Sutton was grateful for the good weather.
“We don’t have a whole lot of parades around us to participate in, and this is a good one for us to do,” said Sutton, whose school is located in Ogle County.
He said 2015 marked the 30th year of the school marching in the parade.
There were more than 100 parade participants, from businesses and community organizations, preschools and higher education institutions – such as Northern Illinois University and Kishwaukee College – even farmers and politicians campaigning for re-election. They rode on floats, drove cars, steered tractors or simply walked.
Dance troupes performed routines, and clowns did what the silly jesters do. The “funky” ’70s music that blared from one float was actually the Sycamore High School Class of 1975 commemorating its 40th anniversary and reunion.
And no Pumpkin Fest parade would be complete without featuring decked-out displays of the fall’s ubiquitous vegetable – superhero pumpkins, bedazzled ones and, of course, gourds of the ghastly kind.