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Cicero and Berwyn Celebrate the 46th Annual International Houby Day Parade

Cicero and Berwyn Celebrate the 46th Annual International Houby Day Parade

By Ray Hanania

Actor Martin Sheen greets attendees at the 46th Annual Houby Day Parade in Cicero along Cermak Road Sunday Oct. 5, 2015

Actor Martin Sheen greets attendees at the 46th Annual Houby Day Parade in Cicero along Cermak Road Sunday Oct. 5, 2015

The 46th Annual Cicero-Berwyn Houby Festival ended with a parade Sunday that attracted more than 20,000 fans and included floats and participants from throughout Northwest Illinois.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn joined Cicero Town President Larry Dominick and Berwyn Mayor Robert Lovero, and a surprise appearance of Hollywood actor Martin Sheen, in leading the parade down Cermak Road.

The Houby Day Festival and Parade celebrates the history of Czech and Slovak immigrants who settled in America and is named in honor of the Mushroom which symbolized the Czech and Slovakian annual harvest.

“This is a great day for a parade. So many good people are out here today to celebrate this annual tradition that represents Illinois’ diversity,” said Gov. Pat Quinn who also walked in the parade last year, too.

Quinn was accompanied by actor Martin Sheen who is supporting the governor’s re-election candidacy in the Nov. 4 election. Illinois parades are often platforms for campaign participation.

“It’s very encouraging to see so many families out on Cermak road today to celebrate this important ethnic heritage,” said President Dominick.

Dominick noted that even though the Houby Festival celebrates the Czech and Slovak heritage, the West suburbs have a large Mexican Day population and they are enthusiastic in support all of the region’s ethnic events.

“I’m proud that so many of our residents have come out today to celebrate an important Czech and Slovak tradition, even though many of the people here are of different ethnic backgrounds. That shows how we all come together to respect each other and support each other,” Dominick said.

The parade featured more than 56 participants with more than 100 floats, entrees and groups from as far south as Orland Park.

State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, Gov. Pat Quinn, Cicero President Larry Dominick and Illinois Treasurer Judy Barr Topinka at the 2014 Houby Day Parade in Cicero

State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, Gov. Pat Quinn, Cicero President Larry Dominick and Illinois Comptroller Judy Barr Topinka at the 2014 Houby Day Parade in Cicero

All of the officials from both municipalities, Cicero and Berwyn, were out in force to celebrate the festival which also included a four-day carnival, entertainment stages and ethnic food. Each year, the parade direction alternates. Last year, the parade began in Berwyn and this year the parade began in Cicero.

“We’re very proud of all the people who work hard to celebrate this important event,” said Berwyn Mayor Lovero. “So many look forward to this event which recognizes the rich heritage of the Czech and Slovak peoples.”

Parade participants featured Cicero officials including Town Supervisor Joe Virruso, Clerk Maria Punzo-Arias, Collector Fran Reitz, Assessor Emilio Cundari and Trustees Dennis Raleigh, Victor Garcia, Larry Banks and Lorraine Walsh. Cicero is the primary funder of the Houby Parade and Festival.

Many regional elected officials joined the parade and marched including State Senator Steven Landek, State Rep. Lisa Hernandez and State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.

“I am always impressed by the diversity that is represented at the Houby Day festival and I am proud to participate in this parade celebrating the Czech and Slovak heritage of our country,” Hernandez said.

Senator Landek added, “The participants put so much into this parade to showcase their heritage and their support of our rich and diverse cultures that make up America.”

One of the largest contingents of floats and displays in the parade were represented by Morton High school District 201 students who hosted two floats and several school organizations entries from the Marching Band to the Unity High School 7th and 8th Grade Student Council.

“Morton High school has one of the largest student body’s in the Midwest and the students are very active, committed and talented,” said Morton High School District 201 Board President Jeffry Pesek.

“When our students get involved, they get involved 110 percent. They are in all the way and they showcase their talents, their ingenuity and their dedication. I am proud of all the different floats and displays that our students organized and put together to participate in this parade.”

State Sen. Steve Landek, Cicero President Larry Dominick, Cicero Township Democratic Committeeman Charlie Hernandez and State Senator and Illinois Treasurer Candidate Mike Frerichs at the 2014 Houby Day Parade in Cicero

State Sen. Steve Landek, Cicero President Larry Dominick, Cicero Township Democratic Committeeman Charlie Hernandez and State Senator and Illinois Treasurer Candidate Mike Frerichs at the 2014 Houby Day Parade in Cicero

Also representing Morton High school where the Morton District 201 Theater Group promoting three planned performances, Shrek: The Musical at the Morton Auditorium (Nov. 21 – 23), Frankenstein at the Morton High School Theater (Nov. 21 – 23), and West Side Story at the Morton High School Theater (April 2 – 26).

This years’ Houby Day Queen is Molly Zajac Clark. Amber Morena is the 1st Runner Up Queen, and Isabel Evariz is Miss Congeniality. All three will greet parade attendees from the Queen’s Float.

The public can view the parade on Cicero’s Television Station on Comcast Channel 6 and on the Town’s Video Website at www.NewCiceroTV.com. Narration of the parade was provided by Channel 6 host Justin Shimko and Cicero Special Events Director Patti Dominick. Dominick was quick to praise the efforts of longtime special events employees including Cynthia Salvino who “every year brings in many of the participants and organizations to make this parade special.”

Dominick added, “This years parade theme was dedicated to the Celebration of the Children in our communities, ‘Children First,’ who give us all so much hope and great pride.”

Nearly every Cicero department and agency was represented in the parade including the Parent Patrol, the Clergy Group, the Cicero Youth Commission, Cicero’s Senior Services, the Rodent Department, Waggin Tails Animal Shelter, Cicero’s Disabilities Department, and also the Hawthorne Park and Clyde Park park districts. And there was a large contingent of police and firefighters, trucks and equipment from the Cicero Police Department and Cicero Fire Department.

The parade include a float representing the Cicero Voters Alliance and its hundreds of volunteers.

Floats and entries also included: Tommy Hawk, Sokol Tabor, Masaryk School, Knights of Columbus, Cicero Zumba (CICOZU), Old Fashioned Candies, Joe Pav Realty, the Shore Shore High School Drill Team and Band, Mustang Auto Repair, the Toy Con Toy Shows, Peggy Rose Academy of Dance, the CW Tax File Corporation, Hinsdale Trail Blazers Drum & Bugle Corp, Cicero’s Boy’s Club, St. Gall Cub Scouts of Orland Park, St. Frances of Rome Boy Scouts, Berwyn Boy Scout Troop 301, Morton College Pantherettes Dance Team, Morton College, Unity Jr. High School, Combat Do, Royal Quality Auto Repair, Liquor Station, Trustee Victor Garcia’s Karaoke, St. Anthony Zumba, Rizza Ford, Ice Cream Delicacies, Chance to Dance. Olympic Theater Beauty Salon, the Children’s Center, A1 Chicago Limousine, Room 280 Video Studios, Morton High school District 201 Floats, Brothers of Justice Bike Club, Dream Dance Studio, the Chicago Boyz, Teleguia Magazine, the Cicero Mexican Cultural Club and Seniorita Cicero, Toys for Tots, the MQH Folkloric Dancers and Fragosi Horses.

“Several of the participants have been participating for years like Old Fashioned Candies of Berwyn, the St. Gall Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts from Orland Park, the Peggy Rose Dance Academy and the Hinsdale Trailblazers Drum & Bugle Corp,” Salvino noted.

“The Veterans and Military were greatly represented by the work of Frank Amaro and Wayne Parthun. The military was also represented by the American Legion Post 96, the Combined Veterans of Berwyn, the Illinois Army National Guard, the US Army Recruiting Station, and 100 ROTC Recruits from Carl Schurz High school in Chicago.”

Klas Restaurant also participated offering a special area for the region’s Senior Citizens who enjoyed Czech refreshments, Potato Pancakes and Czech music.

Entertainment included Czech and Slovak heritage but also Mexican American, Italian, African American and Polish heritage celebrations.

Entertainment includes live music beginning on Friday (October 3), Saturday (October 4) and Sunday (October 5). Bands include: Caliente and 16 Candles and Animal Krackerz on Friday night; The Neverly Brothers, The New Invaders, The Personnel and Libido Funk Circus on Saturday beginning at 2 pm; and, Druha Rava, R-Gang, American English and 7th Heaven on Sunday beginning at 2 pm. The bands and carnival are located on Cermak Road between Lombard Avenue and Austin Blvd, on the L Strip.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist. He is President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group. The Town of Cicero is one of his clients. Reach Ray Hanania at [email protected])

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