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Sunny skies greet Scarecrow Stroll in St. Charles

Event took on different dimension this year because of COVID-19 pandemic

ST. CHARLES – Toddler Emmett Baum of Geneva was enjoying the warm weather Sunday by climbing over the pumpkins on display at the Scarecrow Stroll in downtown St. Charles.

"He's been enjoying the scarecrows and the hay and the pumpkins," said his mother, Nicole Baum.

Sunday was the closing day of the three-day event. The Scarecrow Stroll replaced the annual Scarecrow Fest, which was downsized this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The area is in phase four of Gov. JB Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan. As part of the plan, gatherings of no more than 50 people are allowed, with the limit subject to change based on latest data and guidance.

Usually, the scarecrows are on display in Lincoln Park. This year, 53 decorated and themed scarecrows were in front of or along businesses in the downtown.

Baum, who has attended the event in the past, said she enjoyed the new setup.

"We love being able to get out and see more of St. Charles," she said. "It's been cool. We like it. We're glad they still did it."

Cindy Solak, of St. Charles, also has attended Scarecrow Fest.

"This is totally different," she said. "But the nice thing is you can walk around and see the scarecrows in different places. But I miss the crafts. I don't miss the carnival, but I do miss the crafts. But I don't know if they could have done that any way."

However, Solak said she enjoyed being outside on a warm day and she took advantage of the fact the weather was nice throughout the weekend.

"One of my friends came out and we did a kayak ride because I live right by the Fox River," she said.

Accompanying Solak during the Summer Stroll was her German Shepherd, Baloo. As she walked around the downtown, Solak was admiring the creativity of the scarecrow displays.

Fittingly enough, the display in front of The Wine Exchange featured a scarecrow pouring wine into a glass. And it was only appropriate that the scarecrow's head was made out of wine corks.

The St. Charles Business Alliance organized the Scarecrow Stroll. Jenna Sawicki, executive director of the St. Charles Business Alliance, was pleased with how the event went.

"We had the crowds that we were hoping for and our businesses have been very happy with the support they have seen from the visitors and the community," Sawicki said.

She was also happy that the majority of people who attended the event were following the proper guidelines by social distancing and wearing masks. Sawicki said she heard from people who liked the new setup.

"We had a couple different people come up and say that they saw businesses they didn't know existed and they've lived here for 10, 15 years," she said. "That's really music to our ears because that was the whole point of spreading it out, to give all our businesses the chance to be recognized."

More businesses entered this year's scarecrow contest than in past years.

"They were able to put their scarecrow right in front of their business," she said. "It was easier for them to participate."

The weather also was better than usual.

"We are so lucky," Sawicki said. "This the best weather that this weekend has had in like 11 years."

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