Batavia VFW Post draws 100 to a social-distancing July 4 mini-parade

  • Local Scout troops kick off a short social-distancing parade Saturday morning outside the Batavia VWF Post 1197.

      Local Scout troops kick off a short social-distancing parade Saturday morning outside the Batavia VWF Post 1197. Harry Hitzeman | Staff Photographer

  • Chloe Raykow and her dog Jack get ready for the Batavia VFW Post 1197's parade Saturday.

      Chloe Raykow and her dog Jack get ready for the Batavia VFW Post 1197's parade Saturday. Harry Hitzeman | Staff Photographer

  • Nelson Casey of Aurora volunteered at VFW Post 1197's concession stand, where bottled water was free, food was cheap and #BataviaVeteranStrong T-shirts, left, were for sale.

      Nelson Casey of Aurora volunteered at VFW Post 1197's concession stand, where bottled water was free, food was cheap and #BataviaVeteranStrong T-shirts, left, were for sale. Harry Hitzeman | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 7/4/2020 6:10 PM

Chloe Raykow and her dog Jack readied for the Batavia VFW Post 1197 social-distancing parade Saturday morning, donning patriotic gear and putting an American flag "tie" around the canine's neck.

It was a short parade route -- about a quarter-mile around the post's 6-acre property and along a small stretch of the Fox River Trail -- but it sure beat sitting inside all day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"If it's outside and we are 6 feet apart, I feel safe," said Chloe's grandmother, Millie Raykow of Batavia. "If we were inside and crammed together, I wouldn't go."

Added Raykow's daughter, Dawn Chapman, who was there with her daughter, Adaline Chapman: "Illinois is doing better. We're in Phase 4 (of reopening). I wouldn't want to be inside with people."

Saturday's festivities at the post, 645 S. River St., were among a sprinkle of July 4 events in the suburbs as communities months ago canceled larger parades and shelved fireworks displays.

At least 100 people gathered at the post, keeping their distance in the shade among picnic tables, horseshoe pits and lawn bag sets.

Kasey Harnesk, her husband, Mario, and their two kids came out from North Aurora to be in the parade, where a few spectators threw candy.

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"We want to make it feel like a holiday," Kasey Harnesk said.

Nelson Casey, an Aurora native, volunteered at the post's concession stand where bottled water was free, there was a nominal charge for food, and red "BataviaVeteranStrong" T-shirts were for sale. Each shirt had the acronym "RED" on the front for "Remember Everyone Deployed."

"It's a great thing," Casey said of the post's mini-parade and festivities. "There's not many parades or festivals going on."

Post Commander Jay Davis welcomed everyone, gave a brief overview of the post history and encouraged people to enjoy themselves on a day that defines the American spirit.

"This day, Independence Day, is the day that tells you, you are free," he said. "If you're an American, you can decide your future."

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