Monday, October 3, 2011
43rd Annual Houby Day Parade draws 25,000 attendees in Cicero & Berwyn
43rd Annual Houby Day Parade draws crowd of 25,000
Cicero, Il – Town President Larry Dominick and Berwyn Mayor Robert Lovero kicked off the 43rd Annual Houby Day Parade Sunday capping a three day festival that featured entertainment, food and a carnival.
The parade, which was originally started to recognize the contributions of Czech Americans in the West suburbs attracting more than 25,000 people on its parade route which began in Berwyn at Wesley Avenue and continue along Cermak Road to 56th Street in Cicero. Officials said it may be a record for the parade in the past two decades both for attendance and also parade duration.
The Festival is named after the Czechoslovakian word for “mushroom” and showcases much of the local culture and traditions of the Czech community which represented one of the original settlers in the Western suburb as well as the region’s other ethnic groups including Mexican Americans.
“What really is exciting is how symbolic this parade has become for the west suburbs of Cicero and Berwyn. This year, our two municipalities sponsored and hosted the parade to make a bigger event,” said Town President Larry Dominick who was joined by his wife Elizabeth Dominick.
The Grand Marshall of the event was Berwyn native Rich Koz, who is better known for his TV personality “Svengoolie” (formerly “son of Svengoolie”) who autographed his iconic rubber chickens for parade celebrants.
“I’m excited to be here to celebrate this parade and festival,” Koz said as the parade began. “I’m very proud of the culture of the Czechs that the parade honors but also the great support that the parade continues to get from the residents of Cicero, Berwyn and the surrounding community.
Cermak Road was closed most of the day for the parade and businesses along the route were encouraged to set up street cafes, booths and food tents.
Significantly, the Houby Day Parade Queen was chosen from 32 applicants from Morton District 99 High school.
“The support that the Hispanic community provides to the parade is important because is shows their love not only for their own cultural traditions but also for the cultural traditions of all the people in our community,” Dominick said.
The parade was emceed by former Town Assessor John Kociolko and will be broadcast on Cicero TV on Comcast Cable Channel 6 beginning this week. Cicero officials participating in the parade included Cicero Trustees Joe Virruso (Supervisor), Dennis Raleigh, Fran Reitz (Collector), Emilio Cundari (Assessor), Lorraine Walsh, Larry Banks, Victor Garcia and Town Clerk Maria Punzo-Arias. Also participating were State Senator Steve Landek, and State Representatives Mike Zalewski and Lisa Hernandez.
The parade featured 60 floats and participants included the Cicero Voters Alliance, Teleguia/Imparcial Magazine and Newspaper, military personnel from local veterans groups, and fire and police departments from Cicero and Berwyn.
Food Vendors included the Tamale Hut Café, Tacos y Salsa, and Jose Dumplings along with tents set up along the sidewalk in front of local restaurants along Cermak Road.
“One of the biggest advantages of this parade is that it brings out the people to our business strip on Cermak Road and that helps our local businesses,” Dominick said.
“Many of the businesses participated in the parade and festival with tents and sidewalk sales and it was a great advantage for them. We’re proud of the turnouot and next year it will be even bigger.”
Additionally, Berwyn Main Street sponsored the 4th Annual Czech Oasis in conjunction with the parade to feature Czech food and culture during the parade and the festival weekend.
Entertainment included Czech musicians and bands along with other ethnic and American musicians including a Mariachi band which was the hit of the festival. The performers were 3 for U, Caliente, Mariachis Aguilas de Mexico, Voodoo Monkey, Velvit Jimis, American English, A Beatles Tribute Band and Infinity- A Journey Tribute Band.