Home World Rain doesn’t deter La Grange’s Annual Pet Parade on June 1

Rain doesn’t deter La Grange’s Annual Pet Parade on June 1


Steady rain and dark skies couldn’t stop La Grange’s Annual Pet Parade on June 1.

This year’s edition, “For the Love of Pets,” is the 78th annual event known as “America’s Original Pet Parade,” with 115 marching groups scheduled.

“Turnout was down somewhat because of the rain, but I was happy with the turnout, and everybody walking on the parade route was in great spirits considering the weather conditions,” Molly Price, executive director of the Parade, said after the event. “I felt happy that we came together as a village 30 minutes early trying to avoid the rain.”

Grand Marshall Julian Love, 2016 graduate of Nazareth Academy and current safety for the Seattle Seahawks, waves to the crowd at the 2024. La Grange Pet Parade. (Hank Beckman/for the Pioneer Press)
Grand Marshall Julian Love, 2016 graduate of Nazareth Academy and current safety for the Seattle Seahawks, waves to the crowd at the 2024. La Grange Pet Parade. (Hank Beckman/for the Pioneer Press)

To beat the expected rain, the parade kicked off a half-hour earlier than the scheduled 9:30 a.m. time.

Still, Mother Nature wouldn’t be denied, with a slight drizzle at the beginning of the parade slowly turning into a steady rain throughout the morning.

But as the Parade’s advertising points out, the show goes on, rain or shine. Most parade-goers simply deployed umbrellas.

Price did indicate that there were about 10 no-shows from the total planned.

The parade started at its usual spot on Cossitt Avenue and La Grange Road, winding through downtown, turning west on Burlington Avenue, and south on Brainard Avenue before finishing at its usual spot on the Lyons Townships High School North Campus.

This year’s Grand Marshal was Julian Love, the 2016 Nazareth Academy graduate who played football for Notre Dame and currently plays safety for the Seattle Seahawks.

The tradition of the Color Guard from Robert E. Coulter American Legion Post 1941 leading the parade continued this year, as did the placing of reviewing stands at strategic places throughout the Parade.

Honorary Grand Marshals included Coach Racki of Nazareth Academy and the 2023 Class 5A Football Championship team from Nazareth, the Nazareth Girls Basketball Class 4A 2nd Place winners, Minnie Carr Service Award winner Bessie Boyd, and the La Grange Historical Society, who are celebrating the 150th Anniversary of their home, the Vial House.

The Junior Grand Marshal was Josie Weckman, Laidlaw third-grader and winner of the annual coloring contest. Various schools and scout groups had marching entrants, including the 5th Grade Ambassadors of local schools.

And, of course, there were pets of all types, ranging from dogs and cats to goldfish, ferrets, horses, and marching bands from many local groups.

Awards were given for the best costume in three different categories.

The Keillor family dressed as cicadas and took first place in the family category.

“I knew that there would be a brood of cicadas this year,” Cole Keillor, whose family group of six included his grandmother. “And I always wanted to be in the Pet Parade.”

The Presenting Sponsor of this year’s parade was Pet Supplies Plus, 15 N. La Grange Road. Other sponsors included the Village of La Grange, Jill Willey State Farm, and the La Grange Area Business Association.

Pet Parade Charities is a non-profit dedicated to promoting the health and care of animals in the greater Chicago area.

The parade began in 1947 as a project of the La Grange Chamber of Commerce, whose president, Ed Breen, owner of Breen’s Cleaners, had the idea to create an event that would feature the Village’s children and family pets. The parade grew over the years to include entrees from local businesses, schools, and non-profits.

This year’s parade was televised by WGN-TV. Since the 1990s, the parade has been televised over local cable access on LTTV, the Lyons Township High School television station.

Ed Breen’s son Bob is chairman emeritus and has attended every parade from the beginning.

“I think it’s great,” he said of this year’s edition. “I think it’s fabulous, and I can’t wait for it to start early.”

Steve Palmer, on the Parade’s planning committee, noted the spirit of area residents.

“As I drove the parade route and watched people putting out their chairs, saving their spots, knowing the weather report today, I had tears in my eyes, I’m not going to lie to you,” he said. “What a great, great institution this parade is, and for that tradition to be carried out with people knowing it’s going to get wet…God Bless.”

Parade announcer Marty Dunne was there with his 20-year-old African Grey Parrot Ki-Ku.

“I’ve had parrots my whole life, and I adopted her from my dental hygienist,” he said. “I’ve had her for about 10 years.”

Two of the people setting up early—at 6:30 a.m., were John Buralli and his son, Joe. They’ve been coming to the Parade for 30 years, snd the reason they came so early was so that they didn’t have to bring their own chairs-they could sit at the Village benches in front of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, 50-B S. La Grange Road.

“We always sit here, and we can hear everything that’s coming,” he said.

For further information on the La Grange Pet Parade and how to contribute to Pet Parade Charities, visit the website at: lagrangepetparade.org.

Hank Beckman is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.

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