Better late than never, Wheaton holds annual summer parade
Harrowing storms bombarded Wheaton and surrounding communities July 1, leaving behind a path of destruction that required a massive cleanup effort.
And even though the calendar said July 4 was approaching -- time for the city's annual Fourth of July celebration -- residents and public works crews cleaning up from the storm hardly had the time to celebrate.
Nor was it safe, event organizers said, since downed trees and power lines spilled onto the staging area of the parade and fireworks.
But on Monday -- Labor Day -- Wheaton wasn't going to let Mother Nature rain on its parade.
The rescheduled parade took off down Main Street, with 108 entrants -- just 12 fewer than originally scheduled -- and residents camped out with lawn chairs on the parkways to enjoy the Wheaton summer tradition.
"The community wanted it," said Andy Bendy, director of special facilities for the Wheaton Park District, which organizes the Fourth of July activities. "The Fourth of July parade is a tradition here in Wheaton. We wanted to keep the tradition alive."
Bendy said attendance was down about 10 percent at the parade and Sunday night at the carnival and fireworks at Graf Park. But he said many residents heard about the events being rescheduled, and the turnout was still good.
Some attendees along the parade route said they noticed a smaller crowd, but still were happy the parade happened after all.
"It was understandable to cancel," said Amy Secrest of Wheaton, who watched the parade with her daughter, Grace. She said trees were crossing Main Street in early July, and power was out in the area -- up to five days for some of her neighbors.
"I knew they'd pull it off," said Howard Robbins of Glen Ellyn. "The Wheaton crews were swamped with work, so you can understand why they postponed it."
Elizabeth Craig of Wheaton and Sharon Eckert of Glen Ellyn, both members of St. John Lutheran Church on Main Street, were stationed at a table near the parade route giving away some 2,000 hot dogs courtesy of the church.
"It feels like such a great celebration," Craig said. "We're coming together as a community."
"It seems like such a family atmosphere, bringing everybody together, especially after the devastation," Eckert added.