GENEVA – The only thing more abundant than Shriners in Sunday's Swedish Days Parade in Geneva were the smiles of onlookers who lined the streets at the capper event of the six-day festival.
Whether they were dance teams, horses, Dixieland and marching bands, bagpipers and Shriners – in little cars, carts, horses, fire trucks and motorcycles fez tassels flying – all brought cheers, claps and waves.
"I like everything about the parade," said Beverly De Martini, 86, of Geneva. "My two daughters – Diane Coughlin and Carol De Martini Smith – were in it. They carried the 'Valkommen' sign and they carry the 'See you next year' sign."
Valkommen is Swedish for "welcome."
De Martini said she has always been a big fan of the Swedish Days parade.
"I love the bands," De Martini said. "I love the Boy Scouts, I love the [Jesse White] Tumblers. I love the children. I love everybody. I love the patriotic theme, of course. I can't say enough for Geneva."
For several onlookers, the annual parade in the sunny 86-degree June warmth, was also a clear a sign of summer after a particularly harsh winter.
Rick and Debbie Keith of St. Charles, who used to live in Geneva, said they come back every year for the festival and the parade since 1990.
"I like the Wacky Wheels guy, the Second Time Around Band," Debbie Keith said. "I just like the fact that it's so Americana and it makes summer feel like it's here – finally – it's summer. I love it."
Jim Wagner of West Chicago, holding his Chihuahua-poodle mix – Ringo Mandingo Starr – said he came to see his lady friend in a 1950's costume for the Valley Animal Hospital, Geneva, as part of the parade.
But Wagner said he was having a good time seeing all of it.
"It's small town America at its best," Wagner said. "This is what you do on a Sunday afternoon. We finally have summer."
For many, the parade was something they never get tired of.
"I love the home-town feel," said Ellen Schmid of Geneva, sitting in a lawn chair while her children sat on the curb in front of her.
"And the excitement of watching the children watch the parade each and every year," Schmid said. "And adults and old people alike – everybody loves the Swedish Days parade."