Canceled in 2020, Elk Grove's Hometown Parade surges back with more meaning
Not only were there more residents to watch, more participants and a boatload of Shriners, there was a lot more "meaning" in the Elk Grove Village Hometown Parade Saturday, spectators said.
"This is a real big tradition for the people that live here," said resident Giorgia Spentzos-Dravilas who attended to watch her son and husband march with the Elk Grove Baseball Association.
The annual event that started in 1998 was canceled out of concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Last year was "sad," Spentzos-Dravilas said. Now, "I feel like there's more of a turnout this year. I had a hard time finding parking. It feels awesome because I think people are coming together. I think it feels more meaningful."
Adding a splash were parade-loving Shriners who happened to be in town for the annual Great Lakes Shrine Association conference in neighboring Itasca.
"We probably have an additional 50 units -- all Shriners -- here for our parade," said Elk Grove police Sgt. Randy Schumacher, one of the organizers. "That was perfect timing."
He agreed the crowd appeared larger. "I think people were shut in for so long and probably missing this that wanted the opportunity to get back out and get a little bit of normalcy back in their lives."
So much work goes into the parade that making the call to cancel in 2020 -- although the safe thing to do -- "let a lot of people down," Schumacher said. "So this makes up for it."
The parade's theme was "My Favorite Things," and the Grand Marshal was the Elk Grove Village Community Character Coalition.
That fit right in with Elk Grove Cub Scout Pack 190.
"This year they were extremely excited," Cub Master Jake Mullins said. The theme was broad and the Cubs "thought it was really cool because they were able to show off some of their stuff."
That included a handcrafted mountain on the Cubs' float with steps for someone to climb on.
The parade headed along Elk Grove Boulevard and finished at Rotary Green where the village Oktoberfest is also occurring.