Woogms Parade a Chicago tradition turning 50

May 27, 2013 (CHICAGO)

It's a display of small-town patriotism in the heart of the city which stepped off Monday morning in the Lakeview community.

The Woogms Parade is a neighborhood favorite. Its formal name is a mouthful, the Wellington-Oakdale-Old Glory-Marching-Society.

But the concept is informal. Everybody marches, nobody watches, an idea that's embraced by people of all ages.

"This is the kind of small town fun that's just unusual to find in the heart of the big city," said parade marshal Tony Weisman.

Weisman's father started the parade 50 years ago and over the years it's grown to include at least 1,000 marchers who convene every Memorial Day and Labor Day at the start of the route at Pine Grove and Wellington.

"This parade started in 1963 when my father grabbed me and about five other kids," Weisman said. "A neighbor had given him a flag and he said 'well, I can stick it out the window or march around the block.' So we marched around the block."

Joining Weisman are his two sons, as the third generation of Woogms parade marshals.

"This is close to my 40th parade now," Michael Weisman said. "I've been doing it twice a year since I was an infant."

It's become a tradition for many people who come back year after year.

Even a painful hamstring injury sustained in a hockey game five weeks ago couldn't keep Congressman Mike Quigley away.

"I haven't missed it since 1983, I'm not going to let a little hamstring injury slow me down for that," he said.

"Every kid wants to be in a parade and I still remember being 5,6,7,8 and it was great because you got to march in the street," said attorney general Lisa Madigan.

And that enthusiasm just might keep the Woogms Parade going strong for many more years.

"We get to walk all over the city, well, not all over, but a portion and we don't need a car," said Andrew Kassarjian.

The parade ended at Saint Joseph's Hospital, where there are five plaques commemorating each decade that the parade has taken place.

The next Woogms Parade is Labor Day.

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