By BILL FIGEL
Jim Sexton sure knows how to throw an Independence Day Parade.
The big Mayor of little Evergreen Park had the political world arriving at its doorstep Thursday, July 3, with nearly 100 floats and enough politicians to stage a local convention.
Mayor Sexton -- with the John Wayne gait, impish smile and hardy handshake -- hosted a party for war veterans at Tavern In the Green two hours before the parade stepped off at exactly 6:30 p.m.
The tented reception became the first “must stop” for the likes of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Cook County Commissioner John Daley, D-Chicago, state Rep. Kelly Burke, D-Evergreen Park, and state Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago.
Madigan slathered mustard over hot dogs and even used her extraordinary oratory skills to argue the sensibility of ketchup, while slicing another dog into tiny pieces with a plastic knife and fork for her youngest. Along with husband Pat Byrnes, the two resembled any and all the Evergreen Park parents towing their kids to a parade on a picture-perfect evening.
The party was void of political discussion as Sexton sauntered around the tent hugging veterans, matching grips with pols and posing for photos with wife Karen. Burke and Madigan held courts with a circle of women, and while they weren’t exchanging recipes, it didn’t appear to be weighted down by political debate.
Governor Pat Quinn was a notable no-show, he did send Paul Vallas to weave through the crowd, while Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner pressed flesh engagingly before leading an entourage of supporters down 95th Street.
Christmas Without Cancer topped last year’s award-winning float entry with a spectacular yuletide display on wheels, complete with holiday music. Founder Gerry Neylon invited special guests: the organization’s cancer “Super Survivors” and March4Meg founders the "Donovan Girls" – Nancy Donovan, Maureen Kovac, Ree McDonald and Mary Pat McGeehan.
Bill Biros needed a shoehorn to mount his family-affair Prudential Biros Real Estate float packed with Fitzpatricks, Cronins, Cliffords and, of course, every Biros in the county.
Madigan’s float and handlers invited newly minted Illinois Special Olympians of Evergreen Park to don Lisa Madigan tee-shirts along with their Olympic medals.
The Waterloo German Band, led by 84-year old Harry Wolf and his accordion player Barbara Johnson, accommodated the questionable singing talents of one passerby who insisted on singing: “In heaven there is no beer, that’s why we drink it here…..”
Parade chariman Dennis Duffy patrolled the parade route from a golf cart and as dusk approached, he reported that the parade was “incident free and a good time was had by all.”
Photos and captions by Lily Figel, Frannie Figel and Patty Green.