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Lake View’s Memorial Day parade tradition returns in person

A remote parade just wasn’t the same as marching in person, according to the people who gathered on the North Side for Monday’s WOOGMS Memorial Day parade — the group’s exuberant first Memorial Day kick-off since the pandemic.

Known for its philosophy of ‘Everybody Marches, Nobody Watches,’ the 60th Wellington- Oakdale Old Glory Marching Parade felt especially festive this year, said organizer Mike Lufrano.

“This is about community. It’s about coming together after a long winter,” he said. “It’s about neighbors and sharing how to be back together and be able to celebrate what’s great about Chicago — its neighborhoods, its people.”

Lufrano, 56, and another attendee, Michael White, 37, both said they were first at the Lake View parade ‘in utero’ — while their moms were pregnant.

White’s mother, playwright Vicki Quade, said “I was pregnant in 1984 with Michael here, I was eight months pregnant. We’ve come to it almost every year.”

The Jesse White Tumblers and drum corps entertained an estimated 1,200 marchers — and, despite the motto, a few watchers. Lots of dogs strutted in red, white and blue as the parade kicked off from Pine Grove and Wellington avenues about 11 am

As she watched the high-flying tumblers, 8-year-old Bella Filippini said: “I thought they were going to break their bones.”

Patrick McLean was at the parade with his 8-year-old daughter Mae (right) and her friend, Bella Filippini, 7.

Maureen O’Donnell/Sun Times

White said even though he’s retiring as Illinois secretary of state after 24 years in office, he still plans to attend future WOOGMS parades. He said it and the Bud Billiken parades are his favorites.

It wouldn’t be a Chicago parade without politics. White introduced Chicago city clerk Anna Valencia, who has White’s endorsement to succeed him as Illinois secretary of state.

White made history as the first Black person in that office, Valencia said, and she predicted Illinois would make history by electing her as the first woman to serve in the post.

Valencia faces Chicago Ald. David Moore (17th) and former state treasurer Alexi Giannouliasin the Democratic primary on June 28.

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