Wheaton’s Fourth of July celebrations will begin a day early this year “to make time for all the exciting activities planned by the Wheaton Park District,” according to a press release from the park district.
The Fourth of July fireworks will be Sunday, Jul. 3 and the parade at 10 a.m. the next day.
Margie Wilhelmi, the marketing director for the Wheaton Park District said holding fireworks on Jul. 3 "worked really well" last year, especially for people that work Jul. 5. "This way, with the fireworks being offered on the evening of the 3rd, people are usually off for the Fourth,” she said.
Graf Park will be the host site of Fourth of July festivities and picnicking starting at 6 p.m. Sunday, Jul. 3. Festivities include carnival rides, arcade games, races and music from DJ Gabe. New additions to the Graf Park bash include the carnival rides and Italian food, according Geri Johnson, director of marketing for special facilities at the Wheaton Park District.
“We want families to come out, set up a blanket and enjoy the evening,” said Dan Novak, superintendent of special facilities for the Wheaton Park District. “The fireworks will definitely top off the evening with a bang.”
To go along with this year’s theme, Fabric of America, families can contribute to the Wheaton Park District's Tile Wall Project, “a visual quilt being designed by residents for permanent display at the Community Center,” a press release said.
The theme is chosen each year by the parade committee. “We felt [Fabric of America] represented Wheaton as a community ‘thread’ in America and because of the important history that is here. As stated on our website, 'Wheaton has been a strong thread in the fabric of our nation's history, contributing significant leaders and offering historic locations and events,'” Wilhelmi said.
Fireworks start at 9 p.m. at Graf Park, near Monroe Middle School and the DuPage County Fairgrounds, following the national anthem performed by Wheaton North grad Micah Tryba.
The parade will begin at 10 a.m. Monday, Jul. 4. According to the Wheaton Park District website, more than 70,000 people attend the fireworks and parade to celebrate the Fourth each year.
“Wheaton’s parade is one of the top parades in the state that boasts thousands and thousands of spectators,” Wilhelmi said.
Jane Hodgkinson, retiring Executive Director of the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association, has been named this year’s Parade Grand Marshall.
“Jane Hodgkinson served for 30 years as Executive Director with the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association (WDSRA) in addition to contributing a great deal of time to local organizations," Wilhelmi said. "Jane is a Wheaton resident and we felt that she truly represents Wheaton as she has always given 110 percent of herself to WDSRA as well as to the residents of Wheaton.”
More than 100 parade entries including businesses, local groups, bands, politicians and floats will entertain the crowd along the regular Main Street route according to parade organizer, Sherry Krajelis.
Wilhelmi previewed a few of the floats to expect at the parade: "Operation Support our Troops will have a float, Carlson’s always have a superb float, Wheaton Nurseries as well. The Chicago Corvette Club will have 6-8 Corvettes. The Asylum Haunted House will be participating as well with a spectacular limo. Ms. Illinois Dream Girls will have pageant winners. The Shopping Cart brigade from St. Matthews Church will be collecting food for the food pantry and an Award winning Baton Group [will perform]. Lastly, Those Funny Little People will be performing.”
“Wheaton’s celebration is truly one of the best,” she said.