The theme of Sunday's West Chicago Railroad Days Parade was "Pearls of Our Community," and the spectators who lined the parade route got a chance to express appreciation for many such jewels.
Organizations like the West Chicago Park District, VFW Post 6791 and the West Suburban Home School Band ("The Patriots") all marched in the parade, which was designed to showcase the various government, civic and service groups that make West Chicago what it is. The VFW float included a sign thanking former Mayor Mike Kwasman, who passed away earlier this year.
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It was sunny and searingly hot when the parade stepped off at 1 p.m., but the spectators didn't seem to mind too much.
"I've got water, sunscreen and an umbrella for shade, so I'm all set," Marcia Aquila said. "My family loves this parade, it's a fun community event."
The children in the crowd seemed particularly enthusiastic, most likely because just about every float that marched by threw handfuls of candy at the crowd.
"Yeah, the candy is a big attraction," Wheaton resident Jenny Neumann said.
The parade was the centerpiece event for the final day of the 40th annual Railroad Days festival, which started Thursday. The fest, located at Reed-Keppler Park, included carnival rides, food from local vendors and a full slate of (free) live music.
Originally created to pay tribute to the role the railroads played in the development of local communities, the fest has since grown into a summer tradition that attracts 40,000 people from in and around West Chicago.
"We'll probably go to the carnival after this," Neumann said. "It's a nice event."