When Galen Thomas signed on to help organize and promote Sleepy Hollow's Fourth of July festival, he knew he was charged with a lofty task.
"Making a memory is really important," Thomas said. "As a father and a husband, I try to do things to help kids have great memories of childhood, and this kind of event ... people will reflect on this the rest of their lives."
The nation's birthday demands a celebration, and Sleepy Hollow is among several towns on the Fox River hosting a party. Fireworks displays, parades, and local bands highlight each of the different festivals.
In South Elgin, the parade kicks off at 10 a.m. Thursday, July 4, led by grand marshal Mike Kenyon of the Kane County Board, who has helped organize the parade since the 1970s. The patriotic parade features local businesses and organizations, each promoting this hometown tradition.
As in years past, organizers ask that attendees bring nonperishable food items for the South Elgin Food Pantry. Watch for the South Elgin Parks and Recreation float to donate.
After the parade, stop by the Fox River Trolley Museum to celebrate Red, White and Blue Dollar Day and the organization's 47th birthday. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., riders can enjoy the museum for $2.
Over in Elgin, the "Elgin Marching Thru Time" themed parade along Douglas Street will start at 9 a.m. Thursday, July 4. Members of the Elgin Women's Club will be the grand marshals at this year's event to commemorate the 125th anniversary of when the club brought Advocate Sherman Hospital into Elgin.
There will be events that precede the parade, starting off with a patriotic dog parade at 8:30 a.m.
Elgin City Councilman John Steffen, sporting a suit and a beard he's been growing for weeks, will read the Gettysburg Address in honor of the 150th anniversary of the famous speech.
The Elgin Harvest Market, at 200 N. Grove Ave., will sell fresh produce from 9 a.m. to noon.
The village of Huntley will also host a family-oriented farmers market on Saturday, July 6. The market will include face painting, bike decorating, a craft fair and kids' games from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. near the town square.
While the Huntley Outlets will host its annual Summer Sale Thursday through Sunday, the annual fireworks display will be postponed, due to construction that could make traffic "hazardous," said Rita McMahon, FOIA officer with the village clerk's office.
But Huntley-area residents are not short on options for fireworks on the Fourth.
Batavia, St. Charles and Sleepy Hollow will fill the night skies with colorful shows.
Susan Stark of Batavia, a volunteer for Batavia's fireworks, said she hopes the city's Fourth of July celebration offers a sense of patriotism and community with food, music and fireworks. Before the fireworks display, dig into some favorite foods from 5 to 9:30 p.m., including cheese curds -- Stark's favorite.
As the 25-minute long fireworks show kicks off at 9:30 p.m., two local bands, Kilpatrick and Spectator, will play music to complement the display. Organizers request a $5 donation at the high school parking lots.
In St. Charles, Pottawatomie Park will offer picnicking, swimming and mini-golf all day on Thursday, July 4. Get to the golf course early for the discounted price of $4 from 9 a.m. to noon.
The Fox Valley Concert Band will play 4 to 5:30 p.m., followed by local favorite Red Woody, which will play until dusk when the fireworks show starts off Boy Scout Island.
Jeff Greenwald, of Geneva, assistant superintendent of recreation for the St. Charles Park District, promised the approximately 25-minute fireworks show will be as intense this year as in years past.
As for Thomas, of Sleepy Hollow, he said the village is offering something for everyone July 4 at Sabatino Park.
Get there early for a milelong fun run/walk at 8 a.m. and stick around for the fishing derby from 9 to 11 a.m.
After a morning of activity, food and drink vendors will complement the carnival and basketball shooting games from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Music and raffle drawings will also be held throughout the festival.
Decorate your bike, tractor or wagon in patriotic décor to join in the end of the 11:30 a.m. parade.
"It will be mid-America, small-town fun," Thomas said of the parade.
For something a little different, check out the pie-eating contest and the car show. The Buick GS Club of America will be bringing in over 150 different classic and muscle cars for people to check out.
Parking for the fireworks display opens at 7 p.m., and local act Cry Baby will perform before the show starts at dusk.