School bands' cancellations fueled decision to cancel Naperville parade

Concerns about safety in the heat - particularly that of marchers - are why Naperville's Memorial Day parade was canceled Monday.

Indian Prairie Unit District 204 officials decided mid-Sunday to cancel appearances by marching bands from Neuqua Valley High School and several middle schools, parade organizer Ron Keller said. Naperville Unit District 203, which had units from two high schools and several middle schools scheduled to march in the parade, had been waiting to see what District 204 would do, Keller said.

Keller, a retired middle school band director, said the Illinois High School Association has rules against performing in the heat. Depending on the heat index - it factors in humidity and temperature - an activity can be canceled.

District 204 officials could not be reached for comment.

As of parade time Monday morning, the temperature was 88 with a heat index of 93 at the weather station at the Aurora Municipal Airport in Sugar Grove.

Naperville was not alone: A parade and picnic in Lisle were also canceled due to heat.

In Arlington Heights, organizers of a ceremony at Memorial Park offered a cooling bus and water. They also shortened the memorial ceremony, due to the heat.

Keller said leaders from the Judd Kendall Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3873 and American Legion Post 43 were consulted, as was the Naperville Fire Department. He said fire officials urged organizers to cancel the parade, saying if it went on, they expected 16 to 30 ambulance calls for heat-related illness involving participants and spectators.

Memorial Day ceremonies, including the one at Naperville's Central Park, went on as planned, Keller said, with several hundred people attending that event.

There were also veterans groups that had planned to participate in the parade.

"We just felt that putting them on the streets at 90 degrees was not a good idea," Keller said.

During the extra hot spring of 2012, "we had people falling out left and right" - often children who were dehydrated, Keller said. He also recalled a bass clarinetist and a trombonist in the Naperville Municipal Band collapsing from heat illness that year.

However, the Naperville Municipal Band - whose members range from age 17 to 85 - was prepared to march Monday.

Keller said the memorial ceremonies were more important than the parade, and there was "no way" those ceremonies would be canceled.

"The parade is just kind of a secondary thing," he said.

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