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Pathways Parade Set to Honor 9/11, Celebrate Village's 46th Birthday

Celebrate the village’s birthday and salute local heroes on Sunday at the Pathways Parade.

Shortly after was incorporated in 1965, a community-wide parade was organized to celebrate the momentous occasion.

That parade has continued every year since, making the the longest-running community celebration in Bolingbrook's young history.

This year's parade—the culmination of hard work from not only organizers, but parade entrants as well—will begin at 2 p.m. at . From there, the parade proceeds east on Lily Cache to Canterbury Lane before ending in front of .

Ten years-to-the-date of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, parade organizers decided to make the theme of the parade "Bolingbrook Salutes American Heroes."

Although the day is meant for remembrance, organizers are hoping to keep the parade and mood up-tempo. Of the 95 entrants, expect to see many of the village's fine police officers, both past and present in full uniform.

After the parade, be sure to check out the Bolingbrook Arts Council's Oktoberfest celebration, held behind the Bolingbrook Town Center until 7 p.m.

The German-themed event will feature live music from a German Oopah Band, hayrides, face painting, jugglers and stilt walkers, and the ever-competitive stein contest.

All parade goers should arrive at least 45 minutes in advance to stake out a good spot. With the , there should be plenty of parking.   

Sunday's forecast, according to the National Weather Service, calls for mostly sunny skies, with a high near 78 degrees and calm winds. 

Pathways History

The parade organization has shifted hands over the years. In the latter part of the 1960s through the 1970s, the responsibility was split between local non-profit chapters of the Lion’s Club and Jaycees.

As 1980 dawned, the Jaycees, who at the time who were actively involved in a multitude of local causes, abdicated their role to then-Mayor Bob Bailey. Bailey then enlisted the support of a single resident, Bernadette Young, who in 1980 single-handedly coordinated the whole shabang.

“Back then I was really involved in the village,” Young said. “I’m still not exactly sure how the whole thing fell in my lap. I just remember making some suggestions to Bob, and the next thing I know he was announcing to the board that I’d be handling the parade. I think I had something like two months to put the whole thing together.”

In 1981, former village trustee and current Board President Peg Danhof was a catalyst in recruiting a volunteer committee. Danhof understood coordinating the parade was a monumental task that shouldn’t fall on one person’s shoulders.

“The board, at the time, felt that to be fair there should be more community input,” Danhoff said. “Throughout the 1980s and the early part of the 1990s, an all-volunteer parade committee ran everything.”

By the mid 1990s, the village’s exploding growth rate prompted Mayor Roger Claar and the board to make allowances to appoint a 16-member parade commission.

Today, Art McGuigan is at the helm with his merry band of commissioners: Fran Lopez, Vicki Lange, Barb McHugh, Anita Esbensen, Jackie Dudkowski, Raj Naik, Eurie Morris, John Clyne, Greg Grier, Michelle Gevvia, Debbie VanThyne, Lynn Wozny, Sarah Graham, Kim Millison and Dina Battle. 

Among the commission's various responsibilities: selecting a theme for the parade, recruiting judges as well as a master and mistress of ceremonies, working with the public works department to define a parade route and, most importantly, working with entrants to ensure a spectacular show.

“Up until I came on the commission in 2000, I was in the parade every year,” McGuigan said. “The first one I was in was 1982 with the Knights of Columbus. I even built a replica of the Santa Maria, masts and all in garage over off Royce Road… we won the Mayor’s trophy!”

McGuigan, who has chaired the parade for the past three years, said he never imagined he would someday take over the reigns. 

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