Sycamore tradition: Pumpkin Festival Parade brings families, community together

SYCAMORE – Erin-Mikal Dickens of Yorkville has been going to the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival Parade since he was a young boy.

On Sunday, during the 57th annual event, four generations of his family, including his 4-year-old twin siblings, Sedonia and Joseph, gathered together to watch the parade as it passed by his great-aunt’s house on Somonauk Street.

“I remember when I watched the parade when I was little, and now my kids are watching it,” Dickens said. “We come every year. It’s more than a Sycamore tradition, it’s a family tradition.”

This year’s parade featured about 110 entries, including 14 marching bands and floats created by local businesses, banks, sports teams, church groups, dance troupes and nonprofit organizations.

One of the bands, the Finglas Concert and Marching Band, traveled all the way from Dublin, Ireland. The Finglas program hosted the DeKalb High School Marching Barbs when they went to Ireland in 2017. The Irish band performed in the Pumpkin Fest Parade while it was in town.

“I love that the Pumpkin Fest Parade is an old-fashioned parade for the community with floats and bands,” said Festival Committee President Bart Desch. “The Pumpkin Fest Parade has more bands than any other parade in Illinois. It gets kids and families involved. Everyone loves the live music and seeing the bands perform and march every year.”

This year’s Pumpkin Fest theme was “A Pumpkin Carnival,” chosen by Dempsey Webb, now a first-grader at North Grove Elementary School. The parade’s grand marshal was Windy City Amusements, which has been providing the carnival for the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival for 30 years.

“It was a great theme this year and it was fun to decorate to,” parade chair Terri Goodman said. “I was born and raised in Sycamore and Pumpkin Fest and the parade are part of who I am. It’s part of my Sycamore heritage. It’s a multi-generational event. This, more than events at any school, really is homecoming week for Sycamore.”

Tom Kucala, a design engineer at Ideal Industries, helped design and build the float chosen “Best Use of Theme.” It took a team of more than 10 Ideal employees, led by Pat Holtz, almost two months to build the float.

“I’m from Sycamore, and I’ve always loved Pumpkin Fest,” Kucala said. “I love that we get involved with and support the community at Ideal.”

Sycamore Mayor Curt Lang said his favorite part of the parade is the people that help make it happen.

“I love seeing everyone happy, talking and smiling,” Lang said. “I’ve been attending Pumpkin Fest for 42 years. Even though Halloween is coming up, I’m much more a fan of Pumpkin Fest. Pumpkin Fest is all about family, it’s a great event that showcases our small town.”

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