Elmwood Park goes all out for Fourth to celebrate 100th anniversary

Robin Hanczar and her brother, Mike, have seen their share of parades in Elmwood Park ­— mainly because they have the best seat in the house.

Hanczar, 55, lives on the 7600 block of Fullerton Avenue, a main thoroughfare used during parades in Elmwood Park. This year’s Fourth of July Parade was extra special, celebrating the village’s 100th anniversary, and Hanczar said she could tell the difference after watching parades go by her front door for the past 10 years.

“I think the parade was really awesome,” she said. “I rate it a nine.”

Her brother, Mike Hanczar, 57, said he would have liked to see more marching bands in the parade, but enjoyed it nonetheless.

Bernie Center, the parade chairman, called the parade a success overall. “Everybody said it was the greatest and best they’ve seen in a long time,” he said.

One thing residents and spectators along Fullerton Avenue might notice was that this year’s parade was a lot longer than others. Center said there were 126 entries in the parade, made up of three marching bands, several parade floats, numerous specialty cars and representatives of multiple local organizations.

Connie Ferolo was one of two grand marshals of the parade. She is 102 years old and is the oldest living resident in Elmwood Park. She shared the honor with John F. Vucetich, 87, the oldest continuously-living resident in the village.

“We had the Cavaliers [Drum and Bugle Corps] from Rosemont, the Elmwood Park High School Marching Band along with Ronald McDonald,” he said. “We had more floats than ever.”

Richard Valentino, who lives on the 7600 block of Fullerton Avenue, sat on his porch and watched the parade pass by his home.

“I enjoyed it very much, all the fire engines and all of the people outside,” he said. “You tell Skippy I appreciate it.

When referring to “Skippy,” Valentino meant Elmwood Park Village President Angelo “Skip” Saviano.

Donna Roehri, who lives along Fullerton Avenue, could have watched the parade as well but instead was one of the participants, as a member of the Leyden Township Republican Women’s Organization.

“[The parade] was nice,” she said. “They always do a nice job. They’ve been doing it for so long.”

After the parade residents and participants met on the grounds of Elmwood Park High School where there was food and music from three live bands. The evening was capped off with fireworks.

Center said he received a lot of compliments on that.

“The fireworks were an awesome display,” he said.

He said that around 5 p.m., people started coming to the high school grounds to claim a space to see the fireworks. Once again, Robin Hanczar had the best seat in the house.

“We sit in the backyard and watch the fireworks,” she said.

Center said they are already planning for next year’s parade and promised it would be just as good or better than this one.

“It turned out well,” he said. “You couldn’t ask for a better day. We got blessed with good weather. It was a good day for everyone.”

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