Highwood parade puts ‘buzz in the air’ for first time in 25 years
07/29/2012 Highwood Members of the Marine Corps League march during the Highwood Chamber of Commerce 44th Annual Highwood Festival Days parade on Sunday, July 29, 2012. | michael jarecki ~ for Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 3, 2012 12:37PM
Highwood Festival Days included a parade on Sunday for the first time in a quarter of a century to honor the city’s 125th anniversary.
A parade was originally part of the festivities when the Highwood Chamber of Commerce started the event 44 years ago, said Gabriel Viti, owner of Viti Financial and one of Highwood Festival Days founders.
But over the years, interest in the parade dwindled. There was difficulty getting school bands to participate and it was a large time commitment to plan the parade. That’s why the parade dropped off, Viti said.
Since this year marks the city’s 125th anniversary, a parade was added back to the celebration.
“We didn’t think we’d get many people, but they kept calling,” Viti said.
He estimated more than 6,000 people attended Sunday’s parade, which went down Sheridan Road, to Green Bay Road, north to Highwood Avenue and ended at the library. A festival with rides, games, food and music followed the parade.
Viti estimated that about 75 percent of Highwood’s population was at the parade and festival, along with residents from surrounding communities.
There were more than 40 entries in the parade, including dignitaries.
“There is a great buzz in the air because of the parade,” Highwood Mayor Charlie Pecaro said.
Some of that buzz came from excited children. Oak Terrace Elementary School — the only public school in Highwood — was among the parade entries.
The school is celebrating its 10-year anniversary, according to Principal Sandy Anderson of the state-of-the art building for children in school grades K-5.
She joined her students Sunday in showing their school spirit at the parade, waving pom-poms and wearing their school shirts.
“I think (the parade) is a way to bring everyone together and celebrate a great place. (The kids) are ... thrilled — what kid doesn’t like a parade?” Anderson said.
Parade participants walked where Gen. George Patton once walked, said Army Col. George Burbules, who represented Fort Sheridan. Patton marched down Sheridan Road for Highwood’s parade when he was stationed at Fort Sheridan in the 1940s, Burbules said.
Representatives from all four services rode on the back of an oversized tactical vehicle in the parade. Burbules said it was important to represent Fort Sheridan at Highwood’s parade because their histories intertwine.
“The U.S. Army is very committed to expanding its mission in the community. Our force is people from the community,” Burbules said.