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57th annual Sycamore Pumpkin Festival Parade reflects 'A Pumpkin Carnival' theme

Sycamore Pumpkin Festival Parade reflects ‘A Pumpkin Carnival’ theme

SYCAMORE – Karen Grush and Nancy Dashner, neighbors in DeKalb, have been attending the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival Parade together for about 40 years.

“We wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Grush said. “It’s more than a community event, it’s a tradition for our families.”

Dashner said that for their families, it starts with a pre-parade lunch together.

“Both kids and us adults look forward to it every year,” Dashner said. “I even made sure that I traveled back from overseas in time for the fest and parade. You can tell that a whole lot of work goes into planning and preparing for the parade and the floats every year.”

The 57th annual Sycamore Pumpkin Festival Parade was held Sunday, stepping off at 1 p.m. and traveling along Somonauk, Elm, California, State and Main streets. On average, 100,000 people attend the parade.

This year’s parade featured about 110 entries, including 14 marching bands and floats created by local businesses, banks, sports teams, church groups, dance troupes and nonprofit organizations.

One of the bands, the Finglas Concert and Marching Band, traveled all the way from Dublin, Ireland.

The Finglas band hosted the DeKalb High School Marching Barbs when they traveled to Ireland in 2017. The Irish band performed during the Pumpkin Fest Parade while they were in town.

“I love that the Pumpkin Fest Parade is an old-fashioned parade for the community with floats and bands,” Sycamore Pumpkin Festival Committee President Bart Desch said. “The Pumpkin Fest Parade has more bands than any other parade in Illinois. It gets kids and families involved. Everyone loves the live music and seeing the bands perform and march every year.”

This year’s Pumpkin Fest theme was “A Pumpkin Carnival,” chosen by Dempsey Webb, a first-grader at North Grove Elementary School. The parade’s grand marshal was Windy City Amusements, which has been providing the carnival for the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival for 30 years.

“It was a great theme this year and it was fun to decorate [for],” Parade Chairwoman Terri Goodman said. “I was born and raised in Sycamore, and Pumpkin Fest and the parade are part of who I am. It’s part of my Sycamore heritage. It’s a multigenerational event. This, more than events at any school, really is homecoming week for Sycamore.”

Katie Lesniewski attended the parade with her friend, Tim Welsh, while home visiting family.

“I’m happy to be back home attending the parade because it’s such a great tradition in Sycamore,” she said. “I feel like a kid again. You couldn’t ask for a better town to have a fall celebration in. It’s definitely a community you want to return to.”

For information about the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival and its parade, visit

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