Police plan to make Sycamore’s Pumpkin Festival safe for more than 100,000 visitors

By Andrew Schlesser

While people from all over the area enjoy Sycamore’s annual Pumpkin Festival, the Sycamore Police Department will work behind the scenes to make sure everything flows smoothly.

The goal of police during Pumpkinfest is to maintain security, Sycamore police Lt. Cary Singer said.

“We’ve been very fortunate with few problems in the past during Pumpkinfest,” Singer said. “It’s important to lock your doors and windows of your cars to take that opportunity away.”

There are other police units and organizations that pitch in for the four-day celebration that typically attracts more than 100,000 people. Volunteers come from NIU, DeKalb Explorers, the National Guard, DeKalb County, Cortland, Kingston and more, Singer said.

The Sycamore Police Department staffs more people during Pumpkinfest. The biggest crowd is expected for Sunday’s parade.

Sunday will also feature a 10K run that will end an hour before the parade.

This year, police said people cannot put anything on the parkway to reserve a spot for the parade until Friday at 5 p.m. Chairs and other objects can pose traffic hazards when the wind blows them around, and this way officers can concentrate on the actual event, Singer said.

An officer is assigned to the Pumpkinfest committee every year to act as an adviser and assist the committee with anything it needs. This year, Singer drew the lucky card.

Although main thoroughfares and streets with vendors will be blocked off, most of the city’s side streets should be available for parking, said Julie Brannon, Pumpkinfest committee president.

“There will be times when parking is available downtown, but we recommend people try to park a few blocks away,” she said. “We’ll have buses available to take people around to various locations, too.”

The buses, which will cost 50 cents per passenger, will run at about 15-minute intervals.

Singer said a significant police presence will be on hand to provide security.

“The [police] manpower will be doubled starting Wednesday and tripled on Saturday,” Singer said. “By Sunday, we’ll literally have 100 people on the street.”

Singer recommended people attending the festival make sure their valuables are secure.

“We don’t have many problems, but probably the largest problem we’ve had is people not locking their car,” he said. “If people leave their car unlocked or leave a purse or something like that in plain sight, they’re just asking for trouble.”

Staff Reporter Richard Snowden contributed to this story.