Coach will lead pumpkin parade

By Keisha Howerth

This year’s grand marshal for the Pumpkin Festival parade is a proud contributor to the Sycamore community.

Brian Bickner is the head coach for the Kishwaukee YMCA/DeKalb County Swim Team and will be leading Sunday’s parade as a community leader. As an active participant in the Pumpkin Festival over the 37 years he’s lived in Sycamore, Bickner is excited to be the grand marshal for the parade. Bickner was chosen after the Pumpkin Festival Committee asked his wife if he would be interested.

“As a child living in Sycamore, I entered the pumpkin decorating contest and rode in the parade with different organizations,” Bickner said.

He has three young daughters who enjoy taking part in festival activities.

Earlier this week, Bickner prepped to take in entries for the pumpkin decorating contest on the courthouse lawn; displaying of the entries began Wednesday.

In addition to his role as the grand marshal, he’ll also work in the food trailers and sell Lions Club raffle tickets at the festival.

Bickner is a member of the Sycamore Lions Club, the service organization behind the Pumpkin Festival.

He said that among the ways the organization gives back to the community, they specialize in helping families and individuals who are sight- or hearing-impaired.

“If there’s any child in the Sycamore school district that needs a pair of glasses or hearing aids and they can’t afford them, they just need to let their school nurse know and we’ll help them out with eye or hearing exams,” Bickner said. “And then we’ll also give them eye glasses or hearing aids.”

As head coach for the swimming team, his interest in swimming started when he was 7 years old, just after his family moved to Sycamore.

“We had a pool in the backyard, and [my parents] thought it would be a good idea,” Bickner said.

He has now been the head coach at the YMCA for 19 years.

From the time Bickner first started working for the YMCA, the swim team has grown from 67 swimmers to its current 210.

Bickner also enjoys contributing to the Sycamore community with his wife through the Sycamore United Methodist Church and West Elementary School.