Round Lake Heights police chief steps up, organizes village's annual parade

Round Lake Heights' top cop wants to put on a show the town can be proud of

Police cars, fire trucks and a float with some village board members was not what Round Lake Heights Police Chief John Roehlk had in mind for the village's annual parade.

But that's what he saw in 2011.

So when Mayor Terry Lumpkins suggested scrapping the parade this year after none of the trustees showed interest in planning the event, Roehlk offered to take charge.

Under his leadership, the parade will be more than triple in size with about 25 floats scheduled to participate this Saturday.

“I just didn't want to see the parade canceled,” Roehlk said. “The parade has always been the traditional kickoff to our festival, and I just didn't want to see that tradition go away.”

The parade will start at 11 a.m. on Blackcherry Lane and will head east to Lotus Drive and end at the village hall, 619 W. Pontiac Court.

“It seems that this year will be one of our biggest parades because of (Roehlk),” Lumpkins said.

Roehlk has been planning the event for the past eight to nine months and said it has become “kind of an obsession.”

Floats and participants scheduled to appear include Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops, the Wauconda Police 9/11 Memorial Car, the Round Lake High School color guard, the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile, a Red Bull car, local politicians and more.

Though Roehlk wasn't given any money to plan the parade, he managed to secure the Medinah Genies of Medinah Shriners of Addison at a lowered donation of $300, when usually they ask for $2,500. The donation will go to Shriners Hospitals for Children. Organization members will appear in costume on motorized “flying carpets.”

He said his only concern now is that enough people will show up to appreciate the changes that have been made. Roehlk said the village upped its advertising this year.

“We're trying to get the word out in many ways so that the audience matches the size of the parade,” he said. “To be completely honest, last year was a bit of a downer ... I think it'll be a happier atmosphere (this year) because it will be worth seeing.”

Roehlk said his main goal is to make the parade an enjoyable event for community members.

“There was maybe a bit of embarrassment from last year that that was the best parade we could have pulled off, and this year, I'm very excited about providing something to the residents that they deserve and, I pray, they can be proud of,” he said.

After the parade, Roehlk says he may take a short break, then will look to the future.

“As soon as this parade is over, I may take a month off, and I'll jump right back into planning next year's,” he said.

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