Oak Park and River Forest celebrate Memorial Day


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Deborah Kadin

Contributing Reporter

It may have been damp and chilly Monday, and the threat of rain was ever-present, but that didn't stop hundreds from enjoying the annual River Forest Memorial Day parade.

People of all ages lined Ashland Avenue and Lake Street to watch and cheer the 70 groups that took part in the 88th annual event, which kicked off at Ashland Avenue and Division Street and wound up at Keystone Park.

Leading the parade was the Grand Marshall, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. George Vukotich, who expressed surprise at being asked.

"It is indeed an honor for me," the River Forest resident said. "I never expected it."

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, a village resident, rode in the car behind his.

In a parade that was all Norman Rockwell, of course, there were plenty of dogs on the sidelines.

Candy was plentiful. To make sure that kids kept their teeth clean after eating all of those Lemon Heads and gum balls, SunStar Dental handed out free toothbrushes.

Spectators danced and pranced along to the tunes punched out by the marching bands from Proviso East and West and Oak Park and River Forest high schools as they strutted their stuff. Flag twirlers did their thing too.

Parade participants were provided paper wristbands with the words Honoring Anne Smedinghoff, a tribute to the young River Forest diplomat killed this spring in Afghanistan.

The chill wasn't going to slow up Debbie Dibbern, a 10-year parade watcher, who was holding down the "fort," from the back end of a Nissan SUV. "This is a really nice turnout," said Dibbern, whose 15-year-old son Matthew was one of four Boy Scout flag bearers. "It seems drizzly but that's not going to slow people up."

If it did rain, people were well fortified with rain jackets and umbrellas — and of course the ubiquitous lawn chairs. One person set out carpet remnants for kids to sit on.

Monica Geary and Julie Garrigues of Oak Park took up their traditional spots at the northeast corner of Ashland and Thomas Street as they have for four to five years.

"We've got our chairs, our umbrellas and bags to collect flyers they hand out," Geary said. "We're set."

Jenny and Geoff Foltin, and their two-year-old son Stephen, were ready, too with their gear. Stephen had his own covered spot — a wagon that transformed into a bench. The Foltins were stationed near the corner of Ashland and Division and would only have to scurry a couple of blocks if they had to.

"It's a perfect location," said Jenny. "Stephen loves the parade, ever since he was an infant. Stephen loves fire trucks — seeing those made up for the weather."

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John Burkowski from Berwyn  

Posted: May 28th, 2013 12:18 PM

Photojournalism at it's best. My compliments David.

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