written by: Carol Gilbert
photographs by: John Hoch

Lawn Mower Precision Drill Team: 1st Place Just 4 Fun

Bob Morrissette says, “It was actually pretty easy to come up with ‘All Men Are Pigs’ ” as the mowers’ 2011 theme, adding “We had a lot of good choices.” The drill team is well-practiced at their method: first comes a few meetings punctuated with guffaws and ribaldry, then a props plan is hatched, and “it just falls into place. We see each other’s efforts on the 4th.” The float was well-received. Bob says “Divorced women appreciated it. Married women appreciated it!” And no-one complained. Bob says, “Now that’s a problem! We better step it up next time.” Wearing a pig nose and pink shirt, each mower morphed into a celebrity. Charlie Sheen, “Cheetah Wood”, Drew Peterson, and Bill Clinton are just a few of the 25 personae who marched. Ed Richardson came as Newt Gingrich, saying, “My robust physique and white hair were a fit.” Ed’s mower was decked out as the White House and advertised for a “Campaign Manager/4th Wife”. Ed says “It always amazes me; there’s so much detail work on everyone’s mower. You couldn’t possibly see it all when we go by. We really do have fun with it.”

Pugs Group: 2nd Place Just 4 Fun

Jennifer Beeler says, “I’m definitely on-board” when it’s time for the parade. “We’re dedicated. I know all the dog’s names – maybe not the people’s – but definitely the dog’s!” And pug owners do worry about their dogs. “People put out water along the route. And we had a water-filled mattress filled with ice cubes last year.” Lisa Doyle has organized the pug float for six years and says, “Now, the pugs call us.” Lisa can also rely on her sister-in-law Maureen, whose family tried their local parade near Washington DC, and said “Never again!” Gary Doyle says all the kids help to prepare the banner and their signature signage. The pugs participate in float planning, too, in their own way. Niece Kelly says, “Last year I helped decorate Bob [the pug] with a flag, but it didn’t work out too great”. The pug’s goggles for 2010’s pug-lick pool got mixed reviews from the dogs, too. The pugs compete in the same category as the mowers, and Gary laughs that a friendly rivalry has started. Last year the mower float sported a sign that said “Pugs are Pigs, too!” To which Gary replies pug-naciously, “pugs rule.”

James Kinzer Grandpa: 3rd Place Just 4 Fun

Janet Kinzer says, “It was his idea. Dad called me up and said ‘You’re going to be in the parade!’ ” While father James rode his scooter, daughter Janet held up a sign that said “Granddad for Rent”. Janet describes marching in the parade as “a really wonderful time. People were hollering, saying ‘What are his hours?’ and ‘Can he still drive after dark?’ I would yell back ‘He doesn’t do diapers.'” Daughter-in-law Mary Kinzer says, “We were kind of kidding about ‘Granddad for Rent’ when we made up the sign for him. But he had the gumption to go out there and put himself on the line!” James is a widower who says “I didn’t get any offers for rental, and I didn’t get anybody to ask me to marry them either.” But Janet reports James did get asked out on a couple dates. James will be 88 this July, and dotes on his grandchildren, but knows that some of their friends do not have a grandfather to spend time with. So James decided to “share the bounty. I just thought it would be fun to be in the parade. And I’m trying to come up with a theme for next year.”

Honoring Dawn Weston: 3rd Place Just 4 Fun

Dawn Weston’s parade float in 2011 spotlighted a life lived well. She lives now at Balmoral, in Lake Forest Place, surrounded by her art, and the banner that decorated her car in the parade. Denna Weston says getting the signage ready was easy because “we always knew what we wanted it to say: ‘Dawn Weston … teaching young minds for 37 years!’ That’s what Dawn wanted people to know about herself.” Dawn has many friends from her decades in the community, a resume that includes founding the Senior Center, and teaching at the Grove School. Dawn lost her husband last year, and also lost her grandson the week before the parade. Denna says the parade “took our troubles away for a bit. It was a bright spot in a very sad week. And it was one of the nicest experiences of my life.” Dawn’s sister cheered from the curb, as did her grandchildren. Four generations rode in the Weston convertible including Dawn’s grandson Elliot, great grandson Jackson, and daughter-in-law Denna. Son Rand drove. Denna says, “People clapped and called out and came running up to the car. Dawn cried.”

American Legion Post 510: 1st Place Community

Tom Tincher is generally behind a camera on the 4th but he makes time to organize the Legion float which features the veterans and the Boys State and Girls State scholarship winners. Ed Pigg was one of the veterans on the Legion truck. Ed enjoyed seeing many friends along the parade route, modestly noting “being veterans we attracted acclaim, sometimes more than we deserve. We served but we are not all heroes. I consider it one of the good fortunes of my life to have bought a house in Lake Bluff.” EEd joined the navy right after high school, and has fond memories of Legion Post 5 in Nashville, a dry town, after WWII. “We had drinks, one-armed bandits, and a steak dinner for a buck and a half!” Richard Dornbush is the float’s trumpeter. He thinks parade duty is “heartwarming, because everybody stood and clapped. World War II veterans are in their 70’s and 80’s now, and we are losing 1500 a day.” Richard was very touched to find the Lake Forest Legion Post 264 Color Guard waiting at parade’s end. “They stood at attention with their rifles and saluted us when we were done.”

CenterStage in Lake Forest: 2nd Place Community

CenterStage turned out a huge float last summer, populated by the Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors cast members. James Schmid says, “It was a really fun way to bring the whole cast together.” James is a classical voice student at Michigan, who played Joseph onstage. “It was really crazy being in the middle of that parachute. We just had to go with it and learn how. It was really fun to integrate all the kids into it.” The cast sang and danced all along the parade route. Megan Pratt says, “We had a lot of kids spinning the parachute – it was an extension of Joseph’s coat. People definitely liked all the colors.” And there were people of all ages in the entourage, as befits community theater. Teddi Santos says, “One little guy was so tired I think I carried him half the parade – and Margaret Miller carried him the other half.” Teddi says 2012’s summer show, Music Man, “is one of my all-time favorites.” The Joseph cast rehearsed at night last summer – good news for Joseph director Tom Beck aka PASTA director by day. Tom says, “We had a really fun mix of great adults, great kids and teens.”

Performing Arts Summer Theatre Academy: 3rd Place Community

Though Tom Beck was director of CenterStage’s musical Joseph last summer, he marched with his PASTA summer camp troupe saying, “It was our first entry ever, so the kids were thrilled to win a prize.” His troubadours sang and danced, and a crocodile chased Captain Hook. Skylar Oldenburg marched with PASTA. She says “it was a big surprise that Mr. Beck brought Daisy”, his dog, dressed up as Tinkerbell. “Soooo cute.” Skylar says preparing for the parade was easy. “Mr Beck gave us our places… ‘You… There… You… There…’ ” Skylar says the best part about PASTA is “All the kids are really nice. It’s fun to get to hang out with the older kids.” Sam and Oliver Pasquesi also marched with PASTA; Oliver played the part of Michael in the Peter Pan show. He says, “I got to fly! It was scary the first couple of times, and it was pretty hard to land”, but the day he learned to fly was his favorite of all. Director Tom Beck has marched many times in the Lake Bluff parade. He says, “I always hear ” ‘Hey Mr. Beck’ from the crowd…from people of all ages now. There’s a nice close-up feel to the parade.”

Lake Forest High School Cheerleaders – Varsity and JV: 1st Place Youth

The cheerleaders take their parade preparation very seriously. Maddie Martin says, “We’ll even practice marching back and forth across the gym, and we do run-through out on the street, too.” The girls combine their tryout dance with a stunt. The acrobatics are carefully selected because the street pavement is a hazard , especially for a newly formed team. Maddie’s first year as a cheerleader the varsity did the stunts and jv did the cheers, but more recently the two squads have teamed up for the parade. “In summer practices the teams are combined so we can get ready for homecoming. It’s fun to work together.” Maureen Foster says, “The parade can be nerve-wracking, we practiced sooo much that week. Then when we warmed up we kept missing our stunts. We were so worried. But we went out there and hit it!” Maureen has been a cheerleader all through high school and says the best thing about cheerleading is her teammates. “They will be long-lasting friends I might not even ever have met.” She also says, “I haven’t missed a year of the parade since I’ve been born, and I don’t plan to!”

Cub Scout Pack 42: 2nd Place Youth

Matt Koch, who is “close” to being an Eagle Scout, says Lake Bluff’s parade is always memorable and always unique. Marching in support of the younger Cubs is a Pack 4″ to guide, to be an example.” Matt remembers “when I was a cub scout I looked up. Also, we also want to promote scouts by showing it’s a wide range of ages.” The older scouts also help run the children’s parade on the 4th, and Matt goes on to duty at the Community Church’s Family Fair in the afternoon. Matt, who is a performer, enjoys being in the spotlight of the parade, noting that “each individual organization contributes and makes it spectacular.” The 2011 parade was Samantha Borland’s first year marching as Committee Chair for the Cubs. “It was really wonderful; it really conveys community spirit.” She says, “It’s different from sitting in the stands; you connect. You take it out of your shell and into the community.” Samantha’s son Scott, who is 8 years old, agrees, though he puts it more simply: “It’s a special time of year.”

Varsity Dance Team Lake Forest High School: 3rd Place Youth

Layne Suhre says “We really look forward to being in the parade. People yell ‘Do something cool!’ and ‘Do a jump!’ So we end up practicing our jumps and leaps all along the parade route.” The dance team’s year begins in April with tryouts for the next year’s team. The last weekend in June the team competes for a berth at the national competition in January. Kathleen Kurschner says, “We’re still a little tired from camp, but last year we got 1st place, and we won the Sportmanship award!” On the 4th “we perform for crowded spots, and when people yell, when we see our parents and friends…At the end we’re worn out!” Team Captain Simone Stamelos says she loves being on the team, noting, “Both coaches came to watch us last year, which is really nice, ’cause we do the parade on our own.” The squad convenes early on the 4th of July to create choreography. The entire squad danced in the 2011 parade, using a jeep to broadcast their music and hold the candy they passed out. After the parade the girls lunched at Layne’s, then returned to Artesian Park to staff games at the Family Fair.

CrossFit Freedom: 1st Place Business

CrossFit has created a signature float for the Lake Bluff parade, pulling their truck, rather than riding in it. Gym owner Brett Hall says, “We were looking for something that shows how different we are.” Brett and his brother Derek grew up in Lake Bluff, and were happy to find suitable gym space nearby on 176, just shy of the Libertyville business district. Brother-in-law Justin Lawrence, “the ops guy,” is the third owner and an occasional coach. Justin had fun handing out water bottles and stick in the parade. “I’d tell the kids ‘OK, first you do 10 jumping jacks and 5 push-ups’ ” before handing out the swag. Brett says “We’re a pretty unique gym; it’s a mix, and it’s always in a class.” The gym’s training method foregoes isolation equipment, preferring more varied activity and active coaching. The workouts are part of a supportive community setting, which explains why CrossFit’s parade marchers vie for a turn hauling the truck. Justin says, “The ladies were pulling it, the guys; I hope we gave everybody a look at our fitness level. There are so many great floats. We were just hoping to stick out a bit.”

Jazzercise: 2nd Place Business

Chris Piskule’s Jazzercise classes at Lake Bluff Rec inspire loyalty! Chris is able to turn out a big group in the parade year after year. In addition to her loyal students, Chris can always depend on her identical twin sister to join her from Ohio. “She’s the one who got me started, so we do each other’s parade.” Chris says, “We get a lot of crowd support. They like to get up and dance with us. The ladies in the back were dancing with the boy scouts behind us.” Gerrie Ryan is another of Chris’ ladies. She says, “We’re so pumped up. You don’t realize you’re working out.” An enthusiastic vacation skier, Gerri credits Jazzercise with improved fitness, saying, “The burn is gone. I started Jazzercise and it was totally different.” Gerrie enjoys the parade crowd. “At the end of the parade Chris serves us cold watermelon pieces and we talk about it.” Another perk Gerrie enjoys? “You never have to look for a good place to view the parade.”

Caputo Cheese Market: 3rd Place Business

Twenty-three mice took turns riding in Caputo’s cheese wedge float last year. Caputo’s Jennifer Demitt says, “Our maintenance crew created the float, a little out of the ordinary for them!” Caputo’s is a family business and the whole family works together. Natale Caputo manages the Lake Forest store, and the parent business, too, so he’s sometimes in the shop seven days a week. The Lake Forest store opened in 2010. Natale says, ” We are still getting people in for the first time. They’re amazed at how much we have. We match the person to the cheese.” Caputo’s has two retail outlets, the one in Lake Forest and another in Melrose Park, where the store is part of the cheese plant. Natale Caputo’s kids recruit their friends for parades; he says the fans along the parade route “call out for cheese when we go by”. Preston Hess says riding in the Caputo float is “really, really fun. I can see everybody through the holes. The drag-racer pulling us is pretty cool, too.” Preston is also a huge fan of the store. “They make the cheese, so it’s really really fresh. Mr. Caputo calls me ‘mozzarella man.'”

Pipe and Drums of the Chicago Highlanders: 1st Place Band Units

The Highlanders’ website states “In the tradition of pipe bands across the world, and to pass on the craft to future generations, lessons are free to all interested and conscientious persons” Sandra Sormaz, whose parents are Scottish, wanted to learn pipes and “Next thing I knew I was band manager!” The Highlanders are the oldest continuous pipe band in the US, formed in 1921. Piping is demanding, particularly when wearing black wool caps in the summer heat. But there are lighter moments, too. Sandra says, “We’ve even had people lie down to look up our kilts.” Dan Brill says, “They were the most unlikely people. One was a pillar of her community. She was having a real good time and making memories!” Another time a band member “had lost a few pounds, was marching, and down goes the kilt!” Bagpipe music is a new drumming style for Dan, who says, ” I keep my game face on, focused and on-point. It’s part of the military tradition for a marching unit.” Dan says the Lake Bluff parade has energy. “Kid’s faces light up, there’s hooting and hollering, a great experience.”

Band of the Black Watch: 2nd Place Band Units

“Band directors start worrying about July in August”, says Karl Mueller, Director of the acclaimed Black Watch Band. Marching and music are both performance art, so booking the engagements that fund travel to elite competitions is a must. Kenosha’s Public Recreation Department holds band tryouts each year, and landing a band spot guarantees a busy summer of camp, concerts, competitions and community parades. What do the kids think? Gina Molinaro says, “I love Blackwatch. Performing in the parades is an amazing experience.” Jackie Mack says, “The reward Blackwatch gives you as a member is priceless, whether you are in it for the friends or the pure passion of music.” The band has 140 members, is in its 33rd year, and marched in three parades last summer – almost. Karl says, “Our bus was delayed by a dent, and we pulled up just as the last float went by!“ This July Black Watch will visit Lake Bluff on its way to Disney. Sam Marianyi says, “There is a high expectation and an exciting challenging environment and spirit that can only lead to success, great times and memories.”

Sinful Saints Dixieland Band: 3rd Place Band Units

Trumpeter Frank Katzbach terms Lake Bluff’s crowd “Spectacular! And the narrow streets are unique. It’s a community kind-of-thing.” Frank used to march in parades, but happily rides now. “I sometimes marched behind animals”, and it’s really hard to watch where you step with a trumpet! Frank is now retired from the phone company, and says the LB-LF-Knollwood communities were the last in the state to convert to dial-tone. He knows, because he was part of the team that walked door to door in the 60’s, retiring the old operator-only service. He and the Saints now ride cheerfully in a fire truck, wearing FDNY caps to honor 9-11. Trombone player Tom McDermott is a retired Fire Chief. He is also the chief booker for the Saints. His entourage “has deep talent, forty-five musicians. All independent. We did eleven parades last year.” 2010 was Tom’s first year in Lake Bluff; he brought his 1959 fire truck. In 2011 he sent the “new” 1978 truck, and looks forward to this year. He says his musicians can play any genre of music anywhere – just ask – “How ’bout a Dixieland church service?”

Angel Drill Team: 1st Place Drill Units

Chief Nathaniel Hamilton, a retired Navy Drill Instructor started the Angels in 1977. The team is a dynasty in every sense of the word: It has brought a succession of teens to maturity, it has been emulated by others, it has been consistently strong, and it has ruled at national competitions, winning 24 championships. Donna Dallas was the team’s first operations officer, handling “everything! In the 70’s we practiced with broomsticks before we even had rifles. ” She has a quick answer for why she values her years as an Angel. “Lots of the girls are successful now due to Chief’s values and accountability.” The adjective his Angels use most often is character. How does he teach it? “First, a disciplined mind to open the avenue to learning. Discipline is the way. Moral responsibility. Loyalty – up and down. Devotion to mission. Courage; not physical but mental. Say what you mean and mean what you say. The ability to organize and make decisions. Ingenuity and openness to new ideas. Don’t be afraid of failure.” Regrettably the Angels gave their last performance in 2011. Fare thee well, Chief!

Jazz Steppers: 2nd Place Drill Units

Jazz Stepper Alexis Washington enjoys the Lake Bluff parade, saying, “I like the bands in Lake Bluff. We don’t usually get to see that.” She is proud to be a co-captain of the Jazz Steppers but notes, “It’s hard on me in training. You have to be a bigger part of the girls below you. There’s more pressure to be an example of leadership. ” Alexis says parade routines “have moves people can catch on to. When we do competitions we go much faster.” Drummer Marzell Jordan is new and says it “turns out to be real fun. But it’s very hard; you are physically challenged to carry the drums and march. There’s no sloppiness. When one person messes up, everyone’s messed up.” Marzell says, “We are an elite team. And I am working my way up.” Founder Troy Smith says, “We are keeping marching performing arts in the region.” He added a drum line to the drill format a couple years ago, and is now adding poms. Troy first learned drill formations with the Angels. He started the Jazz Steppers in 1999, and is now piloting classes with the Waukegan Y. He says, “Young people need opportunity.”

Nuclear Reaction: 3rd Place Drill Units

The Nuclear Reaction Drumline was founded in 2010, did its first parade in 2011 observed at the storied Winter Guard International in 2012 and plans to be a contender in 2013. Administrator Tonja Hudson says the mission of the group is to teach. Instructor Bobby Gordon marched with his pupils in Lake Bluff, saying, “Having us there motivates them to do the parade with us. When we march with the kids they feel more comfortable and we can show them how to have fun.” There are some rehearsed pieces, but “if the crowd is really into it we just stop right there.” Instructor Carlos Smith enjoys competitions in indoor arenas, too, but “in a parade we are striving to improve ourselves, to be on the same foot, on the same hand” A drum set can weigh 35 pounds. Carlos says, “It’s a warrior mind-state to push yourself through the heat. We actually get tired mentally before we do physically.” To prepare “we do rehearse the actual marching, but we come up with the moves on the fly. We signal who is doing the solo. I love my craft -marching, competing, whatever!”