The 4th on 53rd Parade and Picnic Bike Brigade. – Spencer Bibbs

PR/Social Media Chairperson
4th on 53rd Street Picnic and Parade Committee

Children of Hyde Park and the surrounding areas love the Old Fashioned 4th on 53rd Street Independence Day Parade and Picnic because it’s filled with fun activities for them. Kids can watch and wave as historical characters, horses and high school bands march by, or they can be part of the parade themselves.

One of the groups participating in the annual parade is the Bike Brigade. It will be Timika Hoffman-Zoller’s fifth year as coordinator of the group. She arrives early at 8:30 a.m. to set up tables and supplies of crepe paper, ribbons, tape and balloons for children to decorate their bikes, tricycles and scooters. The children and their parents arrive at 9:30 a.m. to enjoy the fun of adorning their rides in patriotic paraphernalia.

“For the last two years we’ve had pinwheels,” Timika said. “They were a big hit with the kids. Everybody wanted pinwheels on their bikes.”

Children between the ages of 4 and 10 participate in the Bike Brigade, which has been a part of the parade for many years. Timika explained that her daughter was a member of the Bike Brigade 20 years ago. Now, she helps her mom as a volunteer.

Members of the Kenwood School of Ballet grace a float sponsored by the Hyde Park Bank. The dancers choreograph their own ballet moves including beautiful pliés. The Kenwood School of Ballet is the creation of Kristi Mosbey, who started her dance program six years ago with I-Twirl, a satellite program teaching dance to Chicago Public School students in a number of schools, including Ray School and Ancona School in Hyde Park. Her Kenwood School of Ballet has been in existence for three years, is very successful and expanding. The school teaches children from the age of 2 years old, and has a Tract A for recreational dancers and a Tract B, that trains a pre-professional group of serious dancers. Twelve of her Tract B students have received scholarships to attend summer programs at prestigious dance schools in different states. In addition, the Kenwood School of Ballet has a youth company of 10 to 14 year olds who perform and compete in dance.

“We are very proud to have won first place in Nationals,” Kristi explains. “This year, we will compete at the Dupree Dance National Finals at McCormick Place in Chicago on July 3, the day before the parade and picnic. At the picnic the next day, dancers will perform selections from the classical ballet, Coppélia. We’re very excited and very busy.”

The Independence Day parade disbands in Nichols Park, and a picnic with family entertainment follows immediately. Kristi Mosbey coordinates the main stage.

“Seven of our nine acts this year are children’s acts,” she said.

Kids ages 2 through 5 have their own children’s entertainment stage. For four years, Ebony Lucas, a long-time member of the 4th on 53rd Street Committee, coordinated the children’s stage located in the community room of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club. Children and their parents have participated in sing-a-longs by Martha’s Music, face painting by Paint on Me, storytelling by Judith Heineman and learning circus acts through CircEsteem. Kids even got the chance to play with red, white and blue slime.

Ebony said, “The parents love the children’s stage as much as their kids!”

This year Ebony will proudly pass the torch of children’s stage coordination to Peg Pavelec of Little Inspirations.

The Old Fashioned Independence Day picnic and parade has been a fun tradition for 27 years. It’s loved by children of all ages!

To be part of the fun, visit the website at 4th on 53rd.com.