Once the white picket fences go up around intersections in downtown Arlington Heights, local residents know it's time to party.
On Friday, they took to the streets for the annual Mane Event block party, which ramped up the excitement for today's Arlington Million.
"It's one day a year, when you can drink in the streets," quipped Rose Sherry of Arlington Heights. "It's better than New Orleans, because you know everybody."
Julie Reedy, a math teacher from St. Viator High School said it is somewhat bittersweet.
"It's the last bash before the start of school," Reedy said, who reports back on Monday.
This year, downtown turns out to be a two-day party zone, with Saturday night's Taste of Arlington Heights picking up after the racing at Arlington Park.
"We want it to be upbeat, friendly and welcoming," says Neil Scheufler, of the village's special events commission. "It's a street fair, and we want people to have a good time."
For the 12th year, the Mane Event took place at the intersection of Campbell Street and Vail Avenue, with thousands of people filling the streets.
"It's the best crowd we've ever had," said Arlington Heights police Sgt. Tom Seleski.
Lines formed for the 16 food vendors, who served everything from grilled chicken skewers and baby back ribs to fresh corn on the cob, as well as beer, wine and margaritas.
Patrons also visited with more than 50 merchants in their booths, all members of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce. Many had free giveaways and games for the children.
Successive rock bands provided the party atmosphere. Families who came early heard student groups from the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, including its singers and teen rock band.
Later, the cover band Heartless took the stage, belting out hits by Heart like "Barracuda," before Libido Funk Circus rocked the night away with classics from the 1970s and '80s.
Featured at the Taste of Arlington will be specialties from 15 area restaurants, while a pair of rock bands offers more party music.
The band Exit 147 opens the live entertainment at 6 p.m. before Dot Dot Dot, which was featured on the Fox reality show "The Next Great American Rock Band," plays at 8:30 p.m.
Admission is free.