Although water from the DuPage River ran over parts of the Riverwalk— closing portions of the walkway —there wasn’t a rain cloud in sight at the Naperville Memorial Parade.
Instead, the sun shined brightly upon thousands of spectators on Monday morning.
Kelly Evans, 39, of Naperville, said this year’s weather was a major plus compared to the rain storms at the 2010 parade.
“We got five minutes of parade last year and then we had to get out of here,” Evans said. “The weather is definitely quite a change from last year.”
Last year’s torrential downpour brought a sad ending to Joel Johnson’s parade. Johnson, a veteran of the Marine Corps, was selected to lead the parade in 2010.
But, Mother Nature wouldn’t rain on Johnson’s parade twice. The Naperville resident, for the second year, carried the American Flag at the beginning of the parade.
Johnson’s wife, son and grandchildren came to watch him.
Johnson’s son, Jamey, has been attending the Naperville parade since he was born, he said. Jamey, 47, brought 12-to-15 people to watch his father.
“It’s quite an honor to have him lead the parade,” Jamey Johnson said. “I’m proud of him.”
Evans, who is also a neighbor of the Johnson family, left her house before 6:30 a.m. to grab a spot near the corner of Jackson Avenue and Ewing Street. Evans said it was the best spot to watch the Naperville Memorial Parade because it’s right near the start.
Tom Jocke, 69, of Naperville was near the beginning of the parade. Jocke, who served in the United States Navy from 1959-1962, was marching in his first parade after being a spectator for more than 20 years. The veteran said he believes the parade allows people to rekindle their feelings towards America.
“It’s truly a blessing to have this weather bring more people out,” Jocke said. “This brings the community together, and community brings peace and justice.”
Peggy and Darryl Jelinek, of Naperville, helped to illustrate Jocke’s belief. The pair visited with Naperville Mayor George Pradel prior to the parade. Peggy remembered Pradel from his days as a beat cop in downtown Naperville.
The Jelinek’s said they attended the parade because of the weather and to be part of the community.
“We’re hoping to see some people and friends that we know,” Peggy Jelinek said. “The weather is wonderful; Naperville is a special town and deserves a special parade.”