Love a parade? We've got you covered
Hundreds of us will line Lincoln Avenue to watch the Champaign County Freedom Celebration parade. But it's not the only such event in the area.
Many smaller towns — and at least one neighborhood — offer parades that make up in quality what they lack in quantity.
They also have a tradition of drawing visitors from other towns. Though Seymour is much smaller than its partner in schools, Mahomet, it's the town that draws Cub Scouts, churches, tractors and the occasional politician to its celebration of the nation's heroic beginnings.
Likewise, Danville doesn't have a parade, but you can check out a long-running parade at Rossville that takes you past historic homes and antique streetlights.
Finally, Champaign's Clark Park neighborhood shows that small is beautiful, with an event geared more toward the kids than to flashy floats.
Anna Marx of the city of Tuscola says her town has a special celebration, which includes beauty queens and Santa, as well as more traditional patriotic fare.
After the lineup, the fun starts at 10 a.m. July 5 at the Ervin Park swimming pool parking lot. "We've been having the Fourth celebrated with the (beauty) pageant for as long as I remember," Marx says.
The celebration brings different queens from all over the area, she added.
Tuscola also has a parade at Christmas. Santa and Mrs. Claus came down from the North Pole, and liked Tuscola so much they decided to make the Fourth of July parade as well.
"This year we have a couple antique tractors, old cars and also Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus on vacation," hopefully with lighter clothing to celebrate in Central Illinois, Marx said.
This village in western Champaign County has about 300 people but draws hundreds to its Fourth of July parade, says Chris Carr of the sponsoring Seymour Fire Department.
The parade has hundred of entries, including vintage tractors and cars as well as Cub Scouts by the score.
There's an old school bell on his father's tractor that has been popular. Fire chief Mark Nibling says paraders start showing up around 8:30 a.m. and it goes into full swing at 10 a.m.
A Scout group leads the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
"It's just a long tradition with tractors, floats, a few politicians every now and then and fire trucks like crazy," Nibling said, followed by a car show.
"For a very small town, it's a huge crowd," says volunteer Sandy Satterwhite.
At 11 a.m., the parade starts at the high school and continues down Illinois Route 1 to Christman Park.
Route 1 is called Chicago Street in Rossville and Halsted Street in Chicago. It's an old Indian trail, an early highway in Illinois and, through Rossville, it shows off some beautiful old houses.
The parade is very kid-friendly, Satterwhite says. "You can't throw candy, but we sure hand out a lot."
The parade is all volunteer work, "word of mouth, built up over the years," she says.
It's also very efficient if you're looking to hit several parades.
"It doesn't last long, maybe 20 to 25 minutes," Satterwhite estimates.
Just after the parade, a huge water slide is provided by fire department, then the Sons of the American Legion fish fry starts at the pavilion; barbecue and hot dogs also will be served
There's also the Rossville Community Organization Dixie Duck Race, a cornhole tournament, a band (Social Factor) and, at dusk, fireworks.
Homer, in southeast Champaign County, does things a little differently. You're less likely to suffer a heat stroke here, because the parade doesn't start until 6 p.m. July 4. Fireworks go off at dusk.
Christine Cunningham, the town's librarian, says the parade is modest.
"It's small-town parade; usually we have 50 or so floats. Nothing really spectacular," she says.
But she says the village is proud of its history on the Salt Fork River. Among other things, it's one of the oldest towns in the area, with a mill on the Salt Fork in 1834. The town up and moved in February 1855, when 18 teams of oxen dragged the town more than a mile in the snow to get nearer the new railway. There used to be an amusement park near the Homer Lake Forest Preserve.
"A lot of the organizations and older businesses are still quite proud of Homer," Cunningham said. "The kids love it. We throw candy and the kids go wild."
This Piatt County town almost didn't have a Fourth of July celebration after its longtime sponsors, going back to 1955, announced they were taking time off.
An organizer of this year's event, Carol Kalk, said the parade will go in, with floats, a grand marshal, antique cars, the community band, ire trucks and local businesses and organizations from Monticello and Cerro Gordo.
"The kids decorating their bikes is a big highlight, she said.
The parade starts at 2 p.m. Stick around for the Bingo and food, and fireworks make their noise at dusk.
What with decades of airmen and trainees at the closed Chanute Air Force Base, the town has a lot of veteran and a lot of pride in our country.
Mandy Briggs, director of the Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce, says there's a large parade at 9:30 a.m., early enough that about 10 of the floats can join the Champaign-Urbana Freedom Celebration parade, which starts at 11:05 a.m.
"We've always had a great turnout for this tradition," Briggs says. "It takes about an hour, a good mile long lined with people."
Water wars are very big in Rantoul.
"There's always competition with the water wars, spraying water in to the crowd. There are fights between different floats," she says.
Another tradition is the Pierce family's Herbie the Love Bug, which offers a surprise under the hood. Herbie has been a regular since the 1980s, Margie Pierce says.
Clark Park, Champaign
Katelyn Shamhart and her sister Abby Crull can remember this parade around the family-friendly park back to the early 1980s.
When they returned to the neighborhood, both teachers, the sisters wanted to bring back those glory days, with a neighborly friend, Gwenna Pelz.
Clark Park is unusually cohesive, with events throughout the entire year such as a Halloween celebration, movie nights and concerts in the park.
July 4 starts at 10 a.m. with the parade, in which kids decorate their bikes. There's also a "stroller roller parade," she says.
"The parade usually turns into a race with all the big kids," Shamhart says.
"There's a game or two, and we encourage people to bring a snack to share."