There were plenty of pet dogs marching in Saturday's Pet Parade in LaGrange. (Photos by Steve Metsch)
75th Pet Parade attracts huge crowd after year off
By Steve Metsch
After waiting more than two years, John Bezerril and his sons were finally able to enjoy the La Grange Pet Parade live and in person.
The last time the parade was held live was in June of 2019, long before the words “COVID-19” and “pandemic” became part of our daily vocabulary.
On Saturday, thousands of people lined the downtown streets of the village for the 75th edition of the parade.
There was a buzz in the air, perhaps because the 2020 parade was held online, using video clips folks had sent in, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced its cancelation.
This year’s live version had 100 entrants who marched beneath a warm September sun.
Bezerril and sons Julian, 6, and Aaron, 4, sat on the parkway on the east side of La Grange Road, south of Cossitt Avenue.
“The kids have been waiting for this day for a long time. I think it’s wonderful,” Bezerril, of La Grange, said. “We missed it last year. It was a bummer. Now that it’s back, it’s awesome.”
That was the sentiment of pretty much everyone along the parade route.
The crowd was treated to a wide range of entertainment.
There were live bands – country, rock and the high school marching variety – and local celebrities like recording artist Josie Dunne, a graduate of Lyons Township High School.
Children clutching bags gathered candy and other treats handed out by folks marching in the parade.
Local businesses had a strong presence.
And, of course, there were plenty of pets in the parade, most of those being dogs.
Countryside resident Toni Manzo watched the parade with her niece’s dog Ricco on a leash as she stood near the Lyons Township High School fieldhouse.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Manzo said. “It’s such a community event.”
Manzo decided to not march with Ricco in the parade “because he’s so nervous.” But she’s glad to have attended.
“It’s so cool. A nice event and well received, obviously,” Manzo said. “People are craving for things to do, to get out of the house. … I enjoy it.”
The crowd enjoyed popular returnees like Tommy Hawk, mascot of the Blackhawks; The Lawn Rangers, a drill team from downstate Arcola that performs routines using lawnmowers and brooms; and the Jesse White Tumblers, whose leaps continue to defy gravity.
Township of Lyons Supervisor Christopher Getty made a long overdue return to being in the parade.
Getty fondly recalled when he was selected king of the fifth grade at George Washington School in Lyons.
“It was an amazing experience,” Getty said. “We had to get dressed up. I was in suit, in a convertible, waving.”
“So, I’m back and this time we’re coming out in force,” Getty said. “We’ve been doing a lot of outreach this summer through the township.”
Dozens of people wearing blue T-shirts bearing the township logo handed out candy, fans and other freebies. Some waved as they rode in a trolley that played pop songs on a loudspeaker.
Waving back at many in the parade were Heather Schrock, of Brookfield, and daughter Hadleigh, 5, who made their Pet Parade debut on Burlington Avenue.
“We had no idea what to expect,” Schrock said. “We’ve been here for three years, but her school was marching in the parade, so we’re like, ‘Let’s go for it, let’s do it’.”
“I had no idea it was this huge,” Schrock said. “We’re happy to be here. We’ll definitely be back, for sure.”
Hadleigh attends kindergarten at St. Cletus School in La Grange, which had dozens of students marching in the parade.
Hadleigh said the Pet Parade was fun “because we get to pass out candy.”
Asked if she kept any candy for herself, an impish grin crossed her face as her mother opened a paper bag and said, “just a few.”
Hadleigh may be marching again soon as next year’s Pet Parade is scheduled for June 4.
The parade, usually held on the first Saturday after Memorial Day, was pushed to September because of concerns earlier this year regarding large crowds gathering during the pandemic.
Not many masks were seen Saturday. They were replaced by plenty of smiles.
Brookfield VFW Post gives 45 Navy recruits a happy Thanksgiving Day
By Steve Metsch It had been about three months since Brittney Rodriguez sat down to enjoy a home-cooked meal. It’s not that the food is terrible at the Great Lakes Recruit Training Center in North Chicago, Rodriguez said. It’s just not as good as Mom’s cooking. “They have their days, but it’s not a home-cooked…
Nazareth rally celebrates fourth state football championship
By Steve Metsch Two huge cheers rocked the Rooney Student Center at Nazareth Academy in La Grange Park late Monday morning. The first was when Zach Hayes – joined by the coaches and teammates – walked in carrying the IHSA Class 5A state football championship trophy high over his head. The second was when school…
Orland Park gets in the holiday spirit with parade and tree lighting
By Jeff Vorva The Village of Orland Park’s lighting of the Christmas tree ceremony has been going on for decades, but its holiday parade just completed its sophomore run. The second holiday parade kicked off the festivities on Sunday followed by Mayor Keith Pekau and a group of children pulling the switch to not only…
Pedestrian, 70, hit by car, dies crossing Harlem Avenue in Bridgeview
By Steve Metsch A 70-year-old Bridgeview man died after he was hit by a car at 6:45 p.m. Monday in the 8100 block of South Harlem Avenue, Police Chief Ricardo Mancha said. The man identified as Brian Callaghan was walking from the east side of Harlem to the west, Mancha said. Callaghan lived at Moraine…
Summit lights Christmas tree, holds last Neighborhood Watch for the year
By Carol McGowan Summit officials and residents were on hand November 17 for the lighting of the village Christmas tree in front of the police station on Archer Road. In what’s become an annual event the last couple of years, the tree is lit before the last Neighborhood Watch meeting for the year. There is…
Orland Park man wins Turkey Trot; St. Laurence runner takes women’s title
By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The number 19 meant good things on Thanksgiving morning. The top two finishers in the 34th running of the Orland Park Turkey Trot had “19” as part of the number on their bibs. Brandon Lukas, 25, of Orland Park, wore No. 7519 and took first place with a time of…
Area Sports Roundup: Orland Park Pioneers honored; local hoops teams win Thanksgiving tourney titles
By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Two youth football teams teams were honored by the Orland Park Village Board for winning Super Bowl championships in their respective divisions. The Orland Park Pioneers’ varsity and super lightweight players received awards and recognition Nov. 21 from the board and Mayor Keith Pekau, who has the distinction of playing…
Cook County Board approve Aguilar’s proposal for a sheriff’s helicopter
The Cook County Board of Commissioners voted overwhelmingly last week to approve Commissioner Frank J. Aguilar’s proposal to lease a helicopter to the Cook County Sheriff’s office. While Cook County is among the largest metropolitan areas in the nation, its helicopter fleet lags far behind other large urban areas. The Los Angeles metropolitan area has…
Football Class 5A State Championship: Roadrunners win shootout for fourth state title
By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Nazareth opened the season in August with a 2-0 win over Kankakee. It closed the season the afternoon of Nov. 26 with a 45-44 win over Peoria at Memorial Stadium in Champaign to take the IHSA Class 5A state championship. In between was a rollercoaster of wins and losses and…
EPCHS art teacher draws something every day In Inktober
A series of drawings from Evergreen Park Community High School art teacher Libby McArthur will grace the walls of the Evergreen Park Public Library through the end of November. The drawings, collectively known as her ‘Inktober’ collection, were made during October. McArthur took part in a worldwide drawing month activity that had specific prompts for…
Contempt citations against DCFS director reversed by appellate court
By BETH HUNDSDORFER Capitol News Illinois [email protected] An appellate court on Wednesday reversed several contempt of court citations that were filed in recent months against Department of Children and Family Services Director Marc Smith for failing to comply with court orders to place state wards in appropriate settings. The court found that Smith did not…
State lawmakers pass measure limiting state investment in Russian assets
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House gave final passage Wednesday to a bill aimed at prohibiting state investment in assets tied to Russia and Belarus in retaliation for their participation in the war in Ukraine. House Bill 1293, by Rep. Lindsey LaPointe, D-Chicago, urges the state’s five retirement systems…
Changes to cash bail statute surface before Thursday’s planned adjournment
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Two days before lawmakers were scheduled to adjourn for the year, one of the lead negotiators of the SAFE-T Act criminal justice reform filed a long-awaited amendment detailing several changes to the landmark cash bail overhaul. Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago, filed a 308-page amendment to House…
CAPITOL RECAP: State announces deal to pay down remaining unemployment debt
By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – Lawmakers on Tuesday announced a bipartisan plan to use state revenues to pay down the remaining $1.4 billion in debt taken on by the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The unemployment trust fund is generally funded by the state’s businesses through insurance premiums collected via…
Lawmakers announce bipartisan plan to pay down remaining unemployment debt
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Lawmakers on Tuesday announced a bipartisan plan to use state revenues to pay down the remaining $1.4 billion in debt taken on by the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of the agreement is expected to move through the General Assembly this…
Flagpole removed from Old State Capitol
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – People walking through downtown Springfield on Monday morning looked up to an unusual sight – a helicopter hovering over the Old State Capitol, dropping a rope and lifting away the flagpole that sat atop the bronze-colored dome. “We took off the flagpole of at the Old…
Welch, poised for another term as speaker, reflects on growing House majority
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, who recently announced he has the support for another term as House speaker, says he looks forward to governing with an even larger supermajority than he had during his first two years. “Expanding our caucus was definitely a priority of…
Curran eyes ‘balance’ as he prepares to lead Illinois Senate’s GOP minority
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Senate Minority Leader-elect John Curran will take over a caucus that’s more than doubled in size by the majority-party Democrats. His goal: “Bring balance to state government.” “Because we’re going to produce better results with that balance for working families throughout all Illinois communities,” Curran said…
CAPITOL RECAP: Statehouse Republicans choose new leadership
By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – Republicans chose new leadership for their caucuses in the Illinois General Assembly on Tuesday night, Nov. 15, while the two Democratic leaders have each announced they have the votes to maintain their positions. House Republicans elected Tony McCombie of Savanna and Senate Republicans chose John Curran of Downers Grove.…
With three session days left, SAFE-T Act changes could be forthcoming, ‘technical’ in nature
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Changes may yet come to the SAFE-T Act criminal justice reform before its Jan. 1 effective date, but some of its major proponents in the General Assembly said the results of the Nov. 8 general election have signified that the ship has sailed drastic amendments to…