Oak Park on the march brings folks from every corner of town

A variety of folks from every corner of the village came out in their patriotic bests to stroll in this year’s Fourth of July parade in Oak Park.

At the front of Saturday’s parade was the village’s Board of Trustees, joined by Village President Catherine Adduci of neighboring River Forest.

Following the elected leaders was a pack of local Democratic Party boosters toting election signs for U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Gov. Pat Quinn, state Sen. Don Harmon and 78th district state Rep. Camille Y. Lilly.

In tow was an envoy from the Oak Park Art League, who, adorned with googly-eyed balloon monsters on their heads, gave parade goers a taste of the silliness to come.

After being taken over briefly by a gang of roller derby skaters, some dressed in tutus, Ridgeland Avenue was then transformed into a supermarket aisle by not one but two groups pushing decorated shopping carts.

The first, the Sugar Beet Co-op, is shooting to open its member-owned, organic grocery store in the village next year. The second, the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry, distributed 660,000 pounds of food in the area last year.

As the carts rattled by, parade goers could hear the popular disco song “We Are Family” sounding in the distance and eventually passing by in person.

But it wasn’t Sister Sledge coming up the street — the centerpiece of this year’s parade was the Lakeside Pride Band, an LGBT-awareness group that has performed for the likes of President Barack Obama and attendees at the Gay Games. Saturday’s parade was the energetic marching band’s third in Oak Park.

Meanwhile, a man, with daughter on lap, sped by in a giant cupcake. The means by which this contraption was propelled — manual or electric — was not yet known at press time.

The parade’s lone float was topped by Oakie and Parker, the polar bear and penguin mascot duo who recently welcomed residents back to the newly renovated Ridgeland Common Complex pool and ice rink.

Other acts to hit the avenue that day included representatives from the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park, the Girl Scouts of Chicago and Northwest Indiana, and the day’s sponsor, Community Bank of Oak Park-River Forest.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Fourth of July parade without a cavalcade of vintage cars and a man dressed as a convincing Abraham Lincoln.

This year’s parade kicked off at Longfellow Park at Ridgeland Avenue and Adams Street and ended near Whittier Elementary School on Harvey Avenue.

The celebration was followed by fireworks at Oak Park and River Forest High School’s football stadium later that evening.

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