Community gathers for Kishwaukee Fest Parade
Every town should have a parade. At least that’s what DeKalb resident Mike Embrey believes.
The owner of FunMe Events created the Kishwaukee Fest Parade eight years ago to showcase the many organizations and businesses that DeKalb has to offer.
The eighth annual parade kicked off from Founders School on Friday night with about 90 entries, including scout groups, dance groups, sports teams, community organizations and plenty of bands.
“Sycamore has the Pumpkin Parade, but DeKalb didn’t have one,” Embrey said. “And we’re proud of our town.
It’s a little country paradise. It’s almost like an ‘end of summer’ parade.
I wanted it to be the Norman Rockwell parade for DeKalb. It’s good for people to come to downtown DeKalb, see
all the businesses and support their town.”
The parade is one of the biggest parts of Kishwaukee Fest, which continues Saturday with “Baconpalooza” in Van Buren Plaza. Embrey said the festival is a great way to celebrate all of the exciting things happening in DeKalb, including all of the new construction downtown.
“We’re proud of our parade and our new buildings,” he said. “We want to focus on all of the positives about DeKalb, and want visitors to come and see it as a great little town.”
This year’s military parade marshal was Hunter Munch, a Marine Corps reservist from Sycamore. The 2015 Sycamore High School graduate said he was honored to serve as a parade marshal.
“This is something I can do for my community, and I always like to give back,” Munch said. “I’ve been a lot of places, but this is home. I have great pride in my community.”
Members of Conexion Comunidad in DeKalb performed traditional Mexican folkloric dance along the parade route. Rosa Marquez, president of the organization, said that the parade is a great way to show off the dancers’ talent.
“We teach our kids to give back,
and we’re doing that through dance,” she said. “This is a fun atmosphere,
and the kids always enjoy it. It’s nice
to see the crowd engaged and applauding us, and that we can bring smiles
to their faces.”
Daerielle Culver was playing guitar from the back of the DeKalb Area Women’s Center’s truck. The DAWC Board member said that the organization has participated in the parade since the beginning, and she was excited to celebrate the center’s 25th anniversary this year.
“We want to show people that we have pride in the community, and that we have a space to host community events,” she said.
For Veronica Garcia-Martinez, director of the DeKalb Epilepsy Foundation, the parade is about letting the organization’s clients have fun for an evening without being judged or labeled.
“It’s an easy thing for our clients to participate in,” she said. “We know they can come and have fun without having a stigma put on them. We also try to raise awareness by doing [the parade]. The kids love it and look forward to it every year.”
Dennis Marler lives on the parade route, so every year, he and his family have a front-row seat. Marler said that they always look forward to it.
“It’s nice for people to get out and watch the parade. It’s something that families can do together,” he said.
Kim Montcrief of DeKalb said that the Kishwaukee Fest Parade is one of the best parades in the area, and this year, her son was participating with his youth football team.
“You get to see everyone who comes out, and see a lot of businesses that maybe you didn’t even know were here,” she said. “This parade is diverse, which resembles the town itself.”
Jennifer Johnson of DeKalb learned about the parade on Facebook and wanted to bring her three sons. She said her youngest son was excited about the firetrucks.
“I wanted them to experience a hometown parade, and thought this would be a fun thing to do with the kids,” she said. “It’s awesome, and they’re having a lot of fun.”