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updated: 7/1/2011 3:12 PM

Glen Ellyn parade a slice of Americana

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  • The Glen Ellyn Fourth of July parade will head down Main Street after starting at noon Monday at Glenbard West High School.

    The Glen Ellyn Fourth of July parade will head down Main Street after starting at noon Monday at Glenbard West High School.
    Daily Herald File Photo


Bands, Boy Scouts and church groups march down Main Street. Families line the sidewalks decked out in red, white and blue. Later, they gather to watch fireworks lighten the dark skies over the nearby lake.

It's a small-town story that plays itself out throughout the country on July 4.

But perhaps the best local real-life depiction of such a Norman Rockwell-like portrait can be found in Glen Ellyn.

"It's one of the reasons people come to Glen Ellyn. It has a small, hometown Mayberry kind of feel to it," said Dawn Smith, a member of the Glen Ellyn Fourth of July committee.

The festivities on July 4 kick off with the annual Freedom Four 4-Mile Run starting at 8 a.m. at Memorial Field at Glenbard West High School. There will be nine age divisions. To register, contact the park district at (630) 858-2462. Day-of-race registration is from 6 to 7:30 a.m.

The parade steps off at noon from Glenbard West, heading west on Crescent Boulevard to Main Street, then north to Linden Street and east to Lake Ellyn. There will be 75 entrants, including the Jesse White Tumblers, Medinah Mini Choppers (motorcycles), high school bands, cheerleaders, dance troupes and other local groups.

One parade entry will feature a bit of local lore. The Glen Ellyn Historical Society's float is expected to be a representation of a cow tied to the roof of the First Congregational Church. It's believed that local youth tied the animal there on a Halloween night in the 1920s.

The parade's grand marshals are Scott and Connie Willsey, owners of Barone's restaurant, who are retiring after 40 years.

Following the parade, afternoon activities at Lake Ellyn Park will include an inflatable obstacle course, carnival games, face painting and concessions. Wristbands for all games will cost $2. The festivities run from 1 to 4 p.m.

The popular fireworks show begins at dusk at Lake Ellyn. Officials have advised residents that no blanket-saving spots will be allowed at the park until 6 a.m. Monday. Clearly, the event brings out a good crowd, so the Fourth of July committee is offering "Boomer Booster Seats" on the boathouse dock. Seats are sold in fours, and cost $100.

The parade and fireworks cost $45,000 -- paid through corporate sponsorships, a village contribution and in-kind donations, Smith said.

While other towns are cutting back, Glen Ellyn has been able to maintain its Fourth of July festivities, Smith said.

"We get to keep ours, but it's because of the support of village residents," she said.