Pingree Grove celebrates Independence Day
By Denise Moran For The Courier-News July 7, 2012 8:16PM
Gymnasts from Spring Hill Gymnastics, Elgin, march in the Pingree Grove Independence Day parade. Denise Moran photo
Updated: August 9, 2012 9:49AM
PINGREE GROVE — The village’s second annual Independence Day celebration on Saturday included a parade, carnival games, petting zoo, inflatable slide, dunk tank, disc jockey, food vendors, and an Independence Market.
“The Independence Market is something new this year,” said Pingree Grove resident Leslie LaMarca, a member of the Pingree Grove community events committee. “The village does not have a budget for events, so everything we do is funded by donations and fundraising.”
The celebration began at 4 p.m. Dressed in their uniforms and carrying flags, Pingree Grove residents Kristian VanWiel, 14; his brother, Jack VanWiel, 12, and Adam Florence, 12, of Boy Scout Troop 2 in Elgin led the parade that began at AltaVista and Wester Boulevard and wound its way to Cambridge Lakes Charter School.
Master Sergeant Lizandro Alonzo of the U.S. Army Reserves served as the parade’s grand marshal. Alonzo is a 20-year veteran who served one tour of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom III from 2004 to 2005. He is currently serving as Chief Instructor/Writer for the 13/100th Battalion (OD), U.S. Army Reserves at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.
At Cambridge Lakes Field, attendees feasted on pizza, beef sandwiches, fried Oreos, smoothies, ice cream, broasted chicken, pulled pork sandwiches, roasted corn on the cob, and baked goods sold by food vendors such as Palazzolo’s Pizza & Catering, Hampshire; Ana’s Cakes & Bakery, Gilberts; Cruisin’s, Gilberts; Jamba Juice; and Cream King.
Hampshire-Pingree Grove Little League members ran a concession stand that sold hot dogs, brats, soda, water, Gatorade, hot pretzels, nachos, popcorn, and candy.
Village officials who volunteered to take turns in the dunk tank included: Pingree Grove Police Chief Carol Lussky, Public Works Manager Pat Doherty, Officer Jeff Pokorney and Pingree Grove Trustees Steve Wiedmeyer and Bob Spieker.
Children enjoyed carnival games such as: ring toss, dart throw, sand art, plinko, the lollypop tree, and bean bag toss. There was an inflatable slide designed to look like the Titanic ship and a petting zoo from The Mini Zoo Crew, Hampshire.
Adults could purchase raffle tickets for 25 goody bags that had items donated from over 50 area businesses.
The Independence Market featured 42 vendors. Items for sale included: jewelry, crafts, dog treats, candles, cooking and entertaining tools, cheese boards, and handbags.
Kim Brown, owner of Upcycled Pet Beds in Genoa, sells dog and cat beds and fabric banners. “My business started when I went to a garage sale and bought a suitcase for 25 cents,” Brown said. “When you go camping, your pets like to get inside your suitcases. I make beds for them out of suitcases.”
Judy Reyes, owner of Gourmet Kernel in Algonquin Commons, sells popcorn with names like O’ Sweet Cheezus, Popfetti, and Caramelt.
“I opened my business nine months ago,” Reyes said. “I worked in the computer industry for 28 years and decided I wanted to try something else. I have always liked gourmet popcorn.”
Reyes said she started ‘A Taste of Business’ program with Judson University and Elgin Community College.
“I bring three flavors of popcorn to the colleges, and the students name them. At the end of the year, the most popular flavor is named as the flavor of summer. ECC won the contest this year with a buffalo and bleu cheese popcorn they named Colonel Spice. A percentage of the sales of Colonel Spice will go to the college.”
“I am involved with two fundraisers or donations every month,” Reyes added. “Being a local person allows me to get involved in the community.”
The grand finale planned for the Independence Day celebration included the singing of the National Anthem by professional singer Rhianna Godfrey of Pingree Grove and a fireworks show.