Annual WOOGMs Parade returns Labor Day after pandemic-induced delay

Chicago News

CHICAGO — The WOOGMS Parade made a strong comeback this Labor Day after being forced to go virtual during the pandemic.  

Hundreds of people gathered together to close out the summer in style, with a patriotic march through the neighborhood for the annual march in Lakeview. 

“It’s really about being together. It’s about getting everybody out of their houses and talking in person and sharing the spirit of the holiday with the neighborhood and with the community,” Mike Lufrano of the WOOGMS Committee.

The WOOGMS Parade dates back to the 1960s. It starts on Pine Grove and Wellington and weaves towards the lakefront.   

“It’s really a homegrown neighborhood parade. It was started 58 years ago by a gentleman named Al Weisman. He wanted to get the kids out marching during the summer and back to school time and it has just flourished. It has continued because of that,” said Jennifer Bernardi, a WOOGMS Committee Member.  

This year, the WOOGMS Parade looked a little different than most — you won’t find anyone sitting on the sidelines.  

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“The motto is everybody marches. Nobody watches. So everybody is in the parade instead of watching,” Rich Fingard said.  

The neighborhood has been marching twice a year for nearly six decades. Parade-goers take to the streets on Memorial Day and Labor Day – but were forced to cancel the last three parades due to covid.   

 “We were nervous that people may not feel comfortable joining a group but people have really missed this event. The neighborhood has really missed this event,” Bernardi said.  

The festivities ended with an impressive performance by the Jesse White Tumblers. Neighbors said they couldn’t have picked a better way to celebrate the unofficial end of summer – and a bright year ahead.   

“Hopefully, everything will get better so we can do this every year and the tradition will keep on going,” said parade-goer Emilly Miller.

The WOOGMS Parade committee remains hopeful that the community will come together once again on Memorial Day weekend to celebrate the end of the pandemic. 

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