Palatine kicks off 56th annual Hometown Fest
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Rain couldn't keep people away from the opening of Palatine's 56th annual Hometown Fest.
Families instead waited in cars Wednesday for the rain to stop outside Community Park before 2:30 p.m., when the fest's special needs carnival began.
"(The rain) stopped at like 2:27 p.m., and everyone just came out of their cars and flooded in. Some people actually braved the rain and brought umbrellas," said Jennifer Iannuzzelli, a volunteer with the Palatine Jaycees, the group that organizes the festival.
The free special needs carnival was open to anyone with a disability and their families, without the long lines or loud music that sometimes accompany the festival's carnival. It has run for 16 years on the first day of the fest and lasts an hour-and-a-half.
Palatine resident Julie Blume brought her three children, including 14-year-old Nathan, who has learning disabilities. Nathan doesn't like the loud music or the big crowds, so Blume said it has been a fun and comfortable way for him to celebrate the Fourth of July for the past seven years.
And it's an understatement to say her two other children don't mind.
"I like a lot of the rides but especially the race car one cause it goes around and around so fast," 9-year-old Kevin Blume said of the carnival's new ride, The Speedway.
Besides The Speedway, Iannuzzelli said there's no new additions from last year's fest. As in past years, there will be live entertainment, a dozen food vendors and a colorful carnival with games and rides, including the Dragon Wagon roller coaster and a Ferris wheel.
Carnival wristbands will be available for purchase at noon on each day of the fest, which runs through Sunday. Attendees can also buy mega-passes, which are $80 and give unlimited ride access for the all festival days.
Fireworks will go off at dusk Friday, and the festival parade kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday on West Slade Street from North Cedar Street.
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