SUGAR GROVE – Alyssa McCannon was 5 years old when she told her grandmother that it’d be great to have a bike parade in Sugar Grove. She said she had experienced one in Yorkville and wanted to know why her town didn’t have one.
Not all grandmothers would take that as a call to action, but Alyssa’s grandmother is Karen McCannon, also known as JoJo the Clown. It wasn’t long before the Sugar Grove Fourth of July Bike Parade was born. Alyssa said she knows she’s fortunate to be in such a situation.
“Most people can’t go around saying, ‘My grandma’s a clown,’ ” she said.
“It’s nice having a clown as a grandma. … There’s never a dull moment.”
The parade tradition continues this year, with the parade lineup starting at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at John Shields Elementary School, 85 S. Main St., Sugar Grove. The parade starts at 1 p.m. This year’s event is a fundraiser for the Between Friends Food Pantry in Sugar Grove, and participants are urged to bring jars of pasta sauce or peanut butter or other donations. Participants also could opt to donate $1. Alyssa said peanut butter and pasta sauce are the most popular items at the food pantry.
Health concerns likely will force JoJo to miss the parade for the second consecutive year, but her granddaughters, Alyssa, 15, and Sammie, 11, said they will welcome JoJo’s “clown friends” for the event – including Calico Rose, Mumbles and Tiny T. Last week, the girls were washing JoJo’s “Clown Victoria” golf cart for the event in front of their grandma’s house, which is decked out in anticipation of the event. A sign urges passersby to go to the bike parade, and the front of the house was decked out in red, white and blue bunting.
Melisa Taylor, a Kane County Board member who founded the Between Friends Food Pantry, said it’s no surprise that the McCannon girls would take charge of the parade and also add donations to the food pantry as part of it.
Taylor said Karen McCannon and her grandchildren are regulars as volunteers at the food pantry.
“Her grandkids are awesome,” Taylor said of JoJo the Clown.
Taylor said the girls have seen the hard work that JoJo puts into her endeavors, and they have followed her lead at the food pantry.
Taylor said they will have a successful bike parade this year.
“They’re gonna keep the train moving,” Taylor said.
Alyssa and Sammie said the parade is a growing event, and they are excited to greet all who want to participate. The girls were thrilled to point out that a parrot once was part of the parade. Dogs can participate. Alyssa said a float took part in last year’s event and Sammie stressed that all types of bikes can be involved.
“Motorcycles are welcome,” Sammie said.
Participants don’t have to be from Sugar Grove. The idea is to get together and have some fun. That’s something the girls learned growing up around a clown, and the “Clown Victoria” reflects that. It once was red, the girls said, but now it is white with polka dots. It’s covered in American flags and crafted flowers. The gas pedal is a big clown foot. A big clown nose is in the front.
It’s all in the spirit of the event, the girls said, and also the way that JoJo is all the time.
“Even when she’s not a clown, she’s still clowning around,” Alyssa said.
She said that the girls had a cupcake contest in which they were to feed each other cupcakes in the cleanest way possible. Instead, Alyssa said, with urging from JoJo, she smashed a cupcake in her sister’s face.
“It’s nice having a clown as a grandma,” Alyssa said.