The Village of Hazel Crest held its annual Hazelnut Festival & Parade. Every year, families come with their children and lawn chairs to see the marching bands, elaborate floats and get them excited for the upcoming school year. “The parade is all about the kids and, most important returning to school to get an education,” says Receo Gibson.
Children of all ages were excited to see the fire trucks, slingshot riders, dance troupes, and had their bags to grab lots of candy. There were several participants in the parade, including, Prairie Hills Junior High Drumline, Triple Threat Dance Studio, Hazel Crest School District 152 ½ and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Chi Lambda Lambda Chapter. Raffle tickets were given out at the parade to the community for a chance to win prizes such as gift cards and bikes.
The parade ended at Martin Kauchuk Public Safety Grounds, where the festival occurred. Lady Red served as this year’s host. There were over 50 vendors selling food, smoothies, inspirational t-shirts, skincare, and clothing. Informational booths for voting registration and an African American genealogy were in attendance.
The festival was a community family event for all ages. Activities for the children were face painting, a game truck, slides, and a bouncy inflatable house. Adults enjoyed entertainment from the music of Ronnie G and the Ultimate Concept & Soul Street Collective, Javon Watson, Rhonda High Browne, Soul to the Bone, and many other talented artists. Comedienne Lady Luncha’bell provided laughter, and magician David Shareef captivated the crowd with a magic show that left the audience amazed.
Mayor of Hazel Crest, Vernard Alsberry, Jr. says the HazelNut Festival & Parade gets bigger and better every year. During the festival, Alsberry and his trustees passed out school supplies to prepare students for the school year. “This will be the first year back in school since the pandemic, but we still need to be careful. Going back to school, I know the students look forward to seeing their friends. I want the students to start the first day of school excited and ready to learn,” says Alsberry.
The success of the HazelNut Festival & Parade comes from not only Alsberry and his trustees but also the community. Alsberry says without a good team, there can’t be a good community. “We pull people from the community. My trustees have done a wonderful job making HazelNut a success every year. They are doing great work for the Village of Hazel Crest. I love my team and the community. We are all Hazel Crest proud,” says Alsberry.
To learn more about the Village of Hazel Crest, go to villageofhazelcrest.org.
Tammy Gibson is an author, re-enactor, and black history traveler. Find her on social media @sankofatravelher.