Pumpkin Fest Parade draws massive crowds to downtown Sycamore Sunday

By Joe Palmer

Clydesdales, camels and celebrations were the center of attention during the 51st Annual Pumpkin Fest Parade in Sycamore on Sunday.

The parade has been a tradition in Sycamore and has always been under the leadership of Wally “Mr. Pumpkin” Thurow. Thurow died in February, making 2012 the first year without an appearance from Mr. Pumpkin.

Bart Desch, Pumpkin Fest Committee (PFC) vice-president, said the parade offers a chance for community members to gather together and celebrate.

“This parade gives local groups a chance to show off to the community,” Desch said.

The parade hosted more than 100 entries this year, representing the entire spectrum of the Sycamore and DeKalb areas. Desch said he expects the number of visitors to be up to par with previous years.

“In the past few years, we’ve had over 100,000 people in the city for this event,” Desch said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we had over that number this year.”

The parade and festival bring in people from all over Illinois to gather in Sycamore and celebrate the season with pumpkins. Tom and Charles Krueger, of Bolingbrook, have been coming to the fest for years.

“It’s become a family tradition,” Tom Krueger said. “We’ve been coming since Charlie was in a stroller. It’s probably been 30 years of us coming to this parade.”

The parade included 13 marching bands from the area, boy and girl scouts, various political candidates, a local chiropractor and his camels and representatives from more than 50 organizations.

PFC Corresponding Secretary Jerome Perez said the parade provided an opportunity for families and friends to gather and enjoy the season.

“Just look along the parade route,” Perez said. “Almost every home is decorated and hosting parties for the parade. It’s a great thing for Sycamore.”

The parade kicked off at 1 p.m. and the majority of downtown Sycamore streets were shut down for the event. Sycamore Police Department Lieutenant Cary Singer said there was at least 100 officers from various police departments on hand for the event.

“This is a chance for families who grew up in Sycamore to come back,” Singer said. “We take pride in this community.”

The parade was also a chance for the Wally Thurow Tribute Committee to raise awareness for their memorial project. Tom Moline, director of the committee and a member of the Lions Club of Sycamore, said the committee was organized to raise money for a statue of Thurow to be erected in the city.

“We organized this committee to pay tribute to Wally,” Moline said. “We’d like to build a statue of Wally next to his bicycle in the city so everyone can get a chance to remember him.”

Moline said the spirit of the parade was just as high as previous years, even with the absence of Thurow.