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'The best time of the year': St. Charles East celebrates homecoming

St. Charles East High School varsity football players travel down Illinois Street in downtown St. Charles for the school's homecoming parade Friday afternoon.
St. Charles East High School varsity football players travel down Illinois Street in downtown St. Charles for the school's homecoming parade Friday afternoon.
St. Charles East Homecoming Parade photo gallery

ST. CHARLES – Talking over music from a nearby float, 18-year-old Shawn Hendle expressed her enthusiasm Friday for the St. Charles East High School homecoming parade, which was about to begin.

“Everyone’s really stoked for it,” the high school senior said. “It’s like the best time of the year, honestly.”

But the location of the St. Charles East’s homecoming parade disappointed some. For the third consecutive year, participants marched down Illinois Street, not the traditional route of Main Street.

The parade route, which was the same as last week’s homecoming parade for St. Charles North High School, changed in 2011 because of construction on East Main Street.

Hendle experienced the parade on Main Street as an underclassman. Illinois Street is a nice setting, she said, but Main Street – whose storefront windows are painted by students for homecoming week – offers a better atmosphere.

“The seniors are kind of bummed,” she said.

Watching the parade from the Illinois Street bridge, alumna and freshman parent Joan Devor said she understands why the route was changed. She expects the parade will return to Main Street next year since the road construction will be finished, she said.

Reasons to hold the parade on Main Street include tradition and the prominence of the roadway, she said.

“It’s our main street in town,” Devor said.

St. Charles Police Chief Jim Lamkin said Friday it is too early to say whether the parade will return to Main Street next year.

Parade requests go through the city’s special events process, he said. A committee weighs the pros and cons of the requests, he said, and makes a recommendation to the St. Charles City Council.

“We try to take all things into consideration,” Lamkin said, listing detour routes and costs as factors.

From the police department’s perspective, he said, the new route has worked out well in terms of managing the crowds and traffic.

Sophomore Keith Dwyer – this year’s Mr. Orange and Black – said he is OK with having the parade on Illinois Street.

“It’s safer to have it on Illinois than Main Street,” the 15-year-old said.

As a mother of two East graduates and a current sophomore, Jennifer Cataldo said she has attended the homecoming parade for eight years. She said the location didn’t bother her.

“It’s fun wherever it is,” Cataldo said.

She said her daughter – who marched in the parade with the band – doesn’t seem to care about the location, either.

“She was excited to be a part of it,” Cataldo said.

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