Rayne and River Bjork of Oglesby stood Saturday along East Walnut Street and cleaned up as people from parade floats tossed them candy and, in a stunner, Oglesby police gave each of them a bicycle.
A voucher for a bicycle, that is. Heather Bjork was stunned when her children, 9 and 7, showed off the tickets they can redeem at the Oglesby Police Department for new bikes.
“They’re super excited,” Bjork said.
Another 88 children walked away from Oglesby’s inaugural Winter Parade just as excited. Oglesby police availed themselves of a large shipment of free toys and bicycles, arranged by United Way of the Illinois Valley, and decided Oglesby kids need not wait for Santa to arrive two weeks hence.
“We thought it be a good idea to just hand out as much as we could during the parade,” said Deputy Oglesby Police Chief Mike Margis. “Every kid should get a free bike (Saturday).”
Needless to say, the first-time event was a hit with children. Brandy Day, president of We Are Oglesby, expressed confidence the overall feedback would be strong based on the sheer size of the parade contingent. She and other organizers would have been pleased with 20 vehicles and floats and were delighted when the pre-launch count approached 60.
“We were really surprised, we’re very ecstatic and we can’t wait for the townsfolk to see this,” Day said, signaling confidence there’d be another parade in 2023. “I think this was a good learning curve for us. It gave us a lot of things we could improve upon, and next year’s could be even better.”
Better weather would be a help. Temperatures hovered just north of 40 degrees and under a light drizzle. Joanne Buczkowski from Eagle Rock Christian Center in Peru held up an umbrella for a group of children dressed as Christmas angels. She and the kids had gathered at the Oglesby Knights of Columbus, where walkers were asked to assemble before joining the parade floats.
“All the way here we were praying for the rain to stop,” Buczkowski said.
Their prayers might have helped. The rain did indeed taper off as the vehicles began their slow crawl into downtown, where many spectators had gathered to wave, cheer and snatch up candy thrown from the fire trucks, ambulances and all-terrain vehicles from local churches and businesses.
“I think it’s great,” said Commissioner Tom Argubright. “It’s not bad for the first time and I’m happy for the people who set it up and put it on. It looks like it’s going to be a great time.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle