Ninety years ago, a patriotic tradition was started that continues in Flossmoor to this day. And residents were doubly excited to take part in this year’s iteration after a long year in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Flossmoor Volunteer Fire Department Independence Day Parade stepped off around 10 a.m. Saturday, July 3, from Parker Junior High School.
Decorated bikes, strollers, a Power Wheels ride or two, and roughly a couple hundred people traveled eastbound on Flossmoor Road to Sterling Avenue, turning north into Downtown Flossmoor.
Daria Terrell, of Flossmoor, said she has done the parade for “many years” with her daughters. She was excited to celebrate with the community once again.
“It’s the first time we’ve been able to get out for something like this with everybody in Flossmoor,” Terrell said. “It was fun.”
The parade was led by Flossmoor Fire Department vehicles, including an antique engine. The short parade ended in a gathering in downtown Flossmoor, where patriotic songs were played, the fire department connected with families and shops were open for business.
A large American flag was flown from the extended ladder of a fire truck parked near Flossmoor Road and Sterling Avenue, greeting parade-goers upon their arrival.
For new Fire Chief Robert Kopec, the festivities marked his first celebration of Independence Day with Flossmoor. And he said he was happy his department had a leading role in it.
“This has been such a huge tradition for the community, the fire department, the volunteer corporation and the village of Flossmoor,” he said. “It’s amazing to see the community support and community togetherness, especially right now with everything going on in the world. It’s amazing to see everybody come together and celebrate the country’s birthday. I couldn’t be more honored to be a part of this tradition.”
Nico Berrini grew up in Chicago Heights and attended Homewood-Flossmoor High School, then ultimately moved to Flossmoor with his family. For him, the parade is a tradition he can now share with his children.
Julius Berrini, 5, wearing a Spider-Man helmet and on a bike paying tribute to the web-slinger, rode in the parade while his dad walked alongside him.
“It’s just a great community,” Nico said. “It’s great to share that tradition with our kids.”
Renee Basick, of Flossmoor, said her family first took part in the parade roughly three years ago. It has become tradition.
“When we first moved here, this was our first introduction to Flossmoor,” she said. “We moved over the summer. It was the perfect small-town charm that we were looking for when we moved here. We’ve come back ever since.”
Alongside her just before the parade kickoff was Jessica Boggs, of Flossmoor, who participated for the first time with her family. She rode a bicycle decked out in red, white and blue, and wore a Wonder Woman shirt because it matched the tassels on the handlebars and her children think she is the superhero.
“We’ve heard great things about it,” Boggs said of the parade. “We’ve been away most other years. We were here this year, so we made it a priority to come and check it out this time.”
Flossmoor’s Myron Graham, known for elaborate holiday decorations at his home, pulled into the back of the Parker Junior High lot just before the start of the parade. He sat atop a riding lawnmower decorated with an inflatable bald eagle and Statue of Liberty. It drew the attention of many families waiting for the parade to begin.
“There’s supposed to be eight of us, but the village told us floats are illegal,” Graham said. “It’s a tradition. We’ve done this four years in a row. The kids get a kick out of it, so we’ll keep doing it. I can’t go on the route, so we’ll just circle back and through the neighborhoods.”
Graham said he was happy to see the community celebrating together after the year it has been.
“It’s great ... for everybody to just come out and enjoy life,” he said.
Trustee George Lofton said he thinks the fire department did a great job of putting everything together.
“This is a great turnout,” he said. “We have a beautiful day for it, and it’s a great celebration of our independence.”
Trustee James Mitros served as the master of ceremonies for a short program downtown. He told the crowd he was happy to celebrate the long-standing tradition with his family and the village.
“I thank God I live in this great country, and I count my blessings every morning that I come from a community like Flossmoor,” he said. “It’s a special place, a special community, and we do special things like have children’s parades for the Fourth of July.”
All photos by Bill Jones/H-F Chronicle (BJ).