Houby Festival Draws Many to Cermak Road

Kids, adults and senior residents lined up along Cermak Road on October 7 as they awaited the start of the popular Houby Day Parade to march by.

The 51st annual event, a joint operation between the Town of Cicero and the City of Berwyn, saw dozens of floats, bands, student groups, and public organizations proudly waving their banners and tossing candy to the kids as they headed from 54th Street in Cicero to Riverside Drive in Berwyn.

“This grate tradition began in 1969, linking the two communities together in celebration of the Houby,” said John C. Kociolko, Cicero’s former Assessor. He and Berwyn’s Rick Toman hosted the parade for New Cicero TV.

Early in the line up was Town President Larry Dominick, who rode with his wife Diana and others as they tossed t-shirts to residents along the route.

“It’s a beautiful day in Cicero,” Dominick said.

Also on the route was recently crowned Houby Queen Alexis Holmes. She and others on the Houby Court rode on their own float, the first public event for Holmes as queen.

“I’m very excited. It’s such a great honor and a really fun journey to get here,” she said before the parade.

The Houby Day Parade was started as a way to honor the Czech, Slovak, Bohemian and Moravian people who helped settled Berwyn and Cicero in the early 20th Century. Their families came over during the occupation of their lands by the Austro-Hungarian Empire and tried to suppress their own identities through a brutal process known as Magyarization.

The Houby Festival is named after houby, or mushrooms, a popular treat for the Slavic cultures. The series of events includes the Houby Queen Pageant earlier in the week and a four-day festival along the “L” strip behind Cermak Road and ending with the parade.