VILLA PARK – For almost 50 years, one local man has put his mark on Villa Park’s annual Fourth of July parade.
Sometimes he was in the parade’s Color Guard, sometimes he was marching with an entry and sometimes he was helping to organize it.
Charles Sidney Bergh, known throughout the village as “Sid,” got involved in planning his first parade in 1966 and, aside from a few years, consistently has remained involved.
“I’ve been involved in one way or another since then,” he said.
Bergh, 87, moved to Villa Park in 1931 when he was 5 years old and said he remembers watching the Fourth of July parade as a child.
He served in the Navy during World War II and in 1952 followed in the footsteps of World War II veterans and joined the local Villa Park VFW Post 2801. His involvement in the parade was by default, because in 1966, he was elected junior vice commander of the post, the position responsible for organizing the parade.
“I love the feeling of [the parade],” he said.
In the past, when he wasn’t planning, Bergh marched in the parade or was a part of a Color Guard. This year, he was responsible for serving as the public address announcer on parade day and helping members of the village’s cable commission.
On Tuesday, he sat in the main office of the VFW post at 39 E. St. Charles Road and sifted through pages of applications for parade entries. One was from the Willowbrook marching band, another was from the Shriners organization. He was counting on the village’s police and fire units to be present and was completing last-minute work.
This year, he coordinated with Tom Forbes, the post’s quartermaster, to organize the parade.
Preliminary parade planning usually begins in February, but the coordinators don’t get busy until about the end of May, when entries need to be registered and logistics need to be coordinated.
Bergh estimates the parade attracts about 20,000 people each year; when the weather is warm, there sometimes are more than that.
Despite the frustrations and stress that go along with organizing a Fourth of July parade, Bergh said it’s something he still enjoys, even after so many years.
“(I like) the feeling of experiencing a parade and the feeling of watching it come to fruition, good, bad or indifferent,” he said.