written by: Carol Gilbert
photographs by: Lake Forest Photography

American Legion Post 510: “The Judge’s Favorite” Award

Judge Liz Schuetz says, “It was just a single guy with his trumpet. The crowd was attentive and we all stood. It was simple and very moving.” Gordon Kitson is the lone person on the Lake Bluff float and every time he plays taps, he ends with a salute that he silently dedicates to history’s soldiers. Head float builder is Legion Sergeant-at-Arms Richard Dornbush, who says that in addition to local parades and funerals, and a tour of duty at Arlington, the trumpet plays taps at every Post 510 American Legion meeting. “It’s a way to close and honor American heroes.” Some 2000 World War II veterans are passing every day, so there is great demand for those plaintive notes. Richard and his son Bobby, both Marines, sometimes pull the float together in the middle of the night in their determination to make it just perfect. Featuring flags representing all the armed forces, the American Legion float is dedicated to the memory of 100,000 MIA-POW troops of WWII and after. The float is built anew every 4th, and the flags are rich in color and action. Post Commander Rudy Iberle says he is truly proud the Legion was recognized this year. Rudy says the Legion has presented the float “for about five years. Before then we were too busy planning the whole darned parade!”

Classic Cars from Classic Movies: “The Best Picture” Award, Just 4 Fun Category

Shirley Dillon says that as soon as she heard the family’s antique cars were headed for the parade she announced, “I want to be queen.” A perfect choice for the 1968 Phantom IV State Landaulette, a ceremonial car just for heads of state. Shirley says, “It was so amazing that people came up and gave a royal bow. It was pure makebelieve.” After 25 years in the Midwest Shirley and husband Bob are now retired to the Carolina coast, but she says “I always loved that parade.” Shirley’s daughter, Catherine Driscoll, confirms that saying “We all grew up watching the parade. And it was fun thinking up what we’d do with the cars. The beauty of the Lake Bluff parade is you can do anything.” Catherine and her Bonnie-and-Clyde themed tommy gun rode the running board of a 1963 Coachbuilder Rolls Royce. A big part of the fun for the Driscolls was all the family members who flew in to be their supporting cast. Car collector Tom Driscoll says the weather was a huge concern. His four cars were spotless and sparkling, but “they can overheat. My mechanic drove the hottest one,” a wood-framed 1954 red Rolls formerly owned by Aga Khan. “I thought if it lit up, it’s all over!” But the people and the cars survived, and Tom calls the day “a blast. I’ve been going to the parade for 20 years, so I had to do it once and it worked out pretty well.”

Lawn Mower Precision Drill Team: “The Best Use of Women’s Underwear” Award, Just 4 Fun Category


The Mower team always provides fresh showmanship, but those who look closely will see the mower’s museum woven through. The 2007 squad wore long blonde wigs and jailbird suits to telegraph their identities as Paris Hilton. Bob Morrissette says cross-dressing is almost a norm for the team, but last year “we were all flat-chested like Paris. We were also partying in the AM like Paris.” Bobby O’Neill hasn’t missed Lake Bluff ‘s 4th ever, even though he lives in Panama. Bobby says his favorite part of being a mower is “seeing the duality of the crowd. Many times you have people laughing so hard… then ten feet away, you have another group… ready to throw rotten tomatoes.” He says “We march for the Bluffer who values the good humor and sarcasm we bring. Everyone knows we push the envelope. They also know if we don’t not many others in the parade will.” Tom McInerney’s favorite memory of the 2007 parade is the citizen reviewing stand. “There was a group doing their own commentary…coming right out onto the street with us,” and flashing their judge’s scores. Tom says it’s great that people are “laughing at us and with us… The way we look at it is we have a right to express ourselves, and we choose to do it in this foolish manner. Everyone has their own threshold of humor. And we do try to stretch it.”

North Avenue Group’s Chief Illini’s Last Dance: “The Best Comb-Over” Award, Just 4 Fun Category

Pugs: “The Most Beautiful Use of Non-Beauty” Award, Just 4 Fun Category

Jennifer Beeler has pugged all three years the squad has appeared, so she knows the ropes. Jennifer says her dog Fannie May “had to diet to get into her bikini.” But marching is easy because “all I do is supply the dog. Lisa and Bob do all the work preparing banners and blender drinks.” Lisa and Bob Doyle started the Pug Float in 2005 to make a statement about preservation. Each year finding a new theme “is always a last minute thing. It just happens,” Lisa says. “Last year we wanted to be comical, so we started thinking about the Ugly Betty TV show and came up with Pugs for Ugly. Julie O’Malley says “When Lisa calls me and tells me where to be — I’m there!” Julie, who has marched twice with her pugs, says it’s a fun event and she does it “because there’s a connection between pug owners.” And though her dog Dorothy enjoys the parade, it is a long route for her short legs. Julie says Dorothy “gets tired and wants to rest, and the kids love it when my dog just plops herself in their lap.” Tina Rosine and her husband Larry came to see the mowers in the parade one year, then it became an annual event, and now the parade is a pug event for Roscoe and Mia, who were both adopted from pug rescue. Tina says pugs prefer to “cuddle, eat, and shed” and she was very proud they “did the whole parade on foot, no riding in wagons.”

She Boom: “The Best Second Generation Entry” Award, Just 4 Fun Category

Lake Bluff resident Beth Pestka loves the Lake Bluff parade, saying “I’ve never missed it. I was in labor with my first child at the parade.” Drumming in the parade was her idea, and it was she who convinced her colleagues to join her last 4th of July. Beth says “We were just so energized by it. Once, when I tried waving, my stick flew right out of my hand.” Donna Donohue says “We played the entire route, and we drummed all the way back to Beth’s house.” This was SheBoom’s second parade, and this time they wanted to bring the big drums so they rented a trailer. Donna says the trailer “let us take the time to boost our fun. It’s about the costuming, the decorating, all that stuff.” Bandmate Corky Neuhaus, an artist, says “We all knew each other through class. First, we had to learn how to work together. To play music is to feel the fun of creating. We got together as a fluke, but we’ve all grown tremendously by being in a group.” Though this was Beth’s first time in the parade since 8th grade she says “I’ve never missed it, even during the years I lived out of town.” And with good reason: Beth’s father played in the Samuel Dent Band Memorial Jazz Band every year. Corky says she is glad to follow in Beth’s father’s footsteps. “We all have so much fun playing.”

Ambivalence: Just Passn’ Through


Andrew Disney says it started as a joke. “We were watching the NBA playoffs and decided on a road trip.” He and Tyler Schwartz bought an ambulance and christened it “Ambivalence”. An NYU film grad, Andrew says the trip “was quirky… the real America… a grassroots vision… and kinda revolutionary.” You can judge for yourself at youtube.com. (Try keywords “Tyler and Disney” and click on the July 4th video). Tyler, who grew up in Lake Bluff, says “We were looking for adventure, though we had to stop for gas about every hour at 6mpg… and a phone call later we were in the parade.” Tyler’s a Lake Bluff native, but his boyhood friend John Sievert gets the credit for thinking of the parade. John says, “We weren’t sure how we would be received. We made up a little dance, had fun with it, and it was all kind of random.” And when Tammy the ambivalent ambulance conked out, parade fans enthusiastically joined the “float” and pushed. John says, “People actually thought we were trying to make a statement… they were so friendly and engaging with us.” Tyler says, “Yeah we were unintentionally symbolic. Wish we had some ambivamints to hand out.” Andrew says the parade performance might be “one of the most ridiculous things I’ve done,” but “When you put yourself out there it’s a blast. And it’s documented.”

Legends Performing Arts Association: First Place 2007 in the Band Category


The Lake Bluff parade in 2006 was Legends’ first ever outdoor marching event, so Gunther Singh says it was “really unexpected to win” first prize in Lake Bluff in 2007. Gunther has high praise for Legends’ Executive Director Ibe Sodawalla, saying “He’s more about the kids who are into it – the staff dedication is really cool.” Dustin Young agrees, saying the group “doesn’t just play well together, we get along well together.” Dustin plays trumpet “which rocks.” Matt Dally says the summer corps travels “all summer, sometimes through the night.” Matt plays the baritone, and he enjoys parades, even though “it’s kind of repetitive to play the same thing over and over again.” Matt is very dedicated to his art, but the indoor concert season is Matt’s preferred venue to showcase Legends’ estimable musicianship. Their 2008 summer schedule will feature World Championships Week in Indianapolis. Last year the Corps performed in three 4th of July parades before enjoying evening fireworks. The summer engagements featured the drum and bugle corps, batterie and colorguard sections. The 2007 summer tour included 22 days, 2,300 miles in five states. Executive Director Ibe Sodawalla says, “It’s nice being crowned the number one unit and we’re looking forward to coming back.”

LeaP … Learning everything about Percussion: First Place 2007 in the Drill Unit Category


It was LeaP’s first parade, so their first place prize was a delight. Batterie Caption Head Laith Hodi says pulling the musicians together in the summer was a big accomplishment since the organization plays the winter competition circuit. Just for fun, for the Lake Bluff parade, the kids were given a chance to switch instruments and the 32 who marched in Lake Bluff divided themselves between drumline and pit instruments, both mallet and key. Laith says, “We sent out the music, told the kids to show up with it memorized… rehearsed it that morning, and then it was showtime!”

Cub Scout Pack 42 and Boy Scout Troop 42: First Place 2007 in the Youth Category


Every year the Cubs in Pack 42 invite their brethren in Troop 42 to return and march in the parade. Tripp Wiener says the parade is “kinda fun, and it feels good to do something for the pack again.” Tripp helped build the float and hand out candy, saying “We ran really low, we just barely made it.” John Josephitis says “the route flies by” because everyone is busy handing out goodies. He says float building was a breeze because “we had 40 to 50 people participate. We were done in three hours.” Cub Scout mom Tal Fegan is glad her triplets are Cubs, saying, “It’s a great pack and good values are instilled.” Her son Blaise Bracic says “We pick up trash… take weeds out at school… and get a lot of badges.” Charlie Gallagher says “Yeah, we do community service voluntarily.” One project Charlie is particularly enthused about is his older brother’s Eagle Scout mission to collect soccer equipment for orphans in Ghana. Most service projects are closer to home, though. Many Cubs worked earlier in the week delivering the parade program book to residents’ doorsteps, and the older Scouts began their 4th by chaperoning the Children’s Parade. Nick Anson was a flagbearer, an honor because “hundreds of people in Lake Bluff get to see one person carrying the flag.” Nick says a favorite part of the 4th for him is the Family Fair in Artesian park after the parade. “The games were great and the pizza was a pretty good deal at $1.50!”

Cub Scouts Pack 46 Scooter Drill Team: First Place 2007 in the Youth Category


Drew Seifert, one of about 15 Scouts scouts on scooters, liked being in the Lake Bluff parade “because it was fun to be in front of a lot of people.” Drew says “pretty much everybody has a scooter,” even Pack Leader Bill Oakley. Bill says, the Cubs march in several parades and the boys are always happy to help with events like Memorial Day and Veterans Day but “We thought for the 4th why not do something fun. Hence the scooters.” It’s been several years now, and “We always try to bring something new to the equation every year.” Scout Dad John Corrigan gives credit to the boys for enthusiastically embracing the team concept and for good follow-through, saying “first we had a decorating day, then practice the day before the parade to learn two or three basic routines.” John volunteers often for his son’s Pack, and he manned the water bottle detail on parade day. John’s son, Jack Corrigan, says the scooter squad was thirsty work, but “easier than walking… and we did tricks like jumps and wheelies and walking the dog. Everyone’s watching and it’s fun to ride.” Spence Oakley says afterward he and his Dad take their scooters to a friend’s house on the parade route and celebrate. Spence says the non-stop tricks can be “really tiring, but it’s just loads of fun.”

Lake Bluff Public Library: First Place 2007 in the Community Category


Library Director Catherine Thompson truly loves parades, and hopes the library will be a part of the 4th festivities every year. Last summer the library basement was “decked out with farm stuff from kitty cats to scarecrows for our summer Reading Farm theme.” So straw hats, bandannas, and jeans were a must for the library’s parade team. The group was lucky enough to have a very early parade position, so they were greeted by crowds that were eager to be entertained, also eager to collect some freebies. Trinkets like notepads, pencils, bookmarks, magnets, and candy, of course, proved hugely popular. Librarian Elisabeth Penne says, “I was giving stuff away and I couldn’t keep up! I got separated from the group and marched by myself for a while.” Tamara Mannelly, who is president of Friends of the Lake Bluff Library, brought her whole family to march. She says, “We loved the parade. It’s such a neat tradition, and it was a fun theme.” Tamara says she liked dancing with her pitchfork for the crowds. And she wants us to know this year’s Friends project is to fund a space planning study. Librarian Gloria Newton marched with husband Morgan who was quite popular since he pulled the wagon of goodies. And both the Newtons are ready to march again. Gloria says “People were yelling out our names to us and shouting ‘We love you library!’ We felt appreciated.”