70th annual parade marches downtown


Nick Powell

Students display the North banner to introduce the Tigers’ 2022 homecoming court.

Dylan Budd, Sports Editor

Plainfield community members gathered downtown to celebrate the homecoming parade, a tradition that just passed its 70th anniversary on Oct 8.

The theme for the parade was “Movie Adventures.” 31 schools in the district decorated their floats to recreate iconic scenes from films such as “Up”, “Toy Story” and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”. 

“Last year, the parade was canceled due to the pandemic,” longtime volunteer Kathy Kazmar said. “Coming into this year, there was a huge push in the schools and the community to produce the best floats and come together to enjoy a beautiful fall day.”

The new route this year showcased different school sports teams, bands, colorguard and clubs. The four high schools’ homecoming royalty rode on each school’s respective float. Because of the anniversary milestone, alumni from reunion classes walked the parade route. Superintendent Dr. Glenn Wood and Mayor John Argoudelis were among the honored dignitaries.

“There was so much going on, and there were so many people there,” senior band member Cole Loeblich said. “It was an awesome environment to be a part of.”

For the 70th anniversary of the event, attendees and volunteers got the opportunity to look back at the early days of the parade.

“The parade started in the 1951-1952 school year, and at that time, there was only one high school and one elementary school that went K-8,” Kazmar said. “In the early days of the parade, the route involved crossing Route 59. Could you imagine having a parade there, as busy as it is today?”

Recurring volunteers like Kazmar, Ingrid Price and Jean Brannen are recognizable throughout the community for their extended involvement in the parade over 22 years. 

“I got involved at Bess Eichelberger [elementary school],” Price said. “[Kazmar] asked us to participate in the homecoming committee. There were only ten of us to start, but we kept inviting all of the District 202 schools to participate in the tradition and make one big parade for the whole district. It was our goal to try and incorporate everyone in the inclusivity of having everyone feel like part of homecoming.”

 The current homecoming committee is composed of a group of volunteers and school alumni. It was formed by superintendent Dr. John Harper in 2001.

Kazmar and Price would often be found with a microphone in hand during the parade, as together they provided color commentary during the event. 

“Being able to announce the parade with [Price] was such a wonderful opportunity to see all the smiling proud faces of families, teachers and members of the community,” Kazmar said. “This is my last time volunteering, and I’ll be retiring after this year.”

The push to go to the parade each year is strong amongst the community, most of the encouragement coming through recurring attendees.

“There are such great memories for me during homecoming,” Brannen said. “I can count on one hand the times I missed the homecoming parade. My kids went to the school district, and I wanted to pass the tradition on to them. As the community got bigger, we wanted to include everyone.”

The path of parade attendees has changed over the years, and this year was no different. The parade route of recent years was reversed for safety reasons as well as traffic control.

“The police feel it’s the safest, the village feels it’s the safest and we as the volunteers feel it’s safe,” Kazmar said. “We think it’s a really good move, and that’s the reason why we only have one parade, even though we have 31 different schools.” 

The yearly parade provides an opportunity for the community to gather and celebrate a positive student spirit.

“Every time I’ve been in the parade, I’ve had a blast,” junior band member Tim Przybylski said. “The influence it has on the community is astounding to watch.”