In Johnsburg and across McHenry County, marking ultimate sacrifices on Memorial Day

Carl Kamienski hands Kevin Knutilla a flag during the Johnsburg Memorial Day parade Monday May 27, 2024.

Johnsburg residents and visitors lined the Fox River bridge on Chapel Hill Road Monday, first to watch a Memorial Day ceremony and then a parade.

The event, touted as a “patriotic event like no other,” began with patriotic music playing from speakers in the backyard of Waterfront Hotel Waterfront Hotel and Marina starting around 8:30 a.m. as people began to gather.

Several boats on the river, including a couple from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office, stopped near the hotel for the ceremony, and a large American flag was draped over the Fox River bridge. At 9 a.m., the Memorial Day ceremony began, featuring remarks from officials and a performance from the Johnsburg High School marching band.

Village President Ed Hettermann gave remarks, led the crowd in saying “thank you” and asked attendees to observe a moment of silence in honor of fallen heroes.

“They died defending Americans’ [freedoms] and values,” Hettermann said, adding what they sacrificed for is too often taken for granted.

Photographs of servicemembers on a float before the Johnsburg Memorial Day parade Monday May 27, 2024.

Following the ceremony, there was a parade stretching from the marina to the Johnsburg Community Club, where there was a brief closing ceremony at the community center memorial.

Chris Kasperski sat in the front row at the closing ceremony. Kasperski, who said he served in Afghanistan and lost a friend on his first mission there, said Memorial Day was a “great day to honor our fallen” but it also is a “somber day.”

Among the floats was Sunnyside Tavern’s. It featured photos commemorating service members who have died, not necessarily in combat. Karen Kunz, who was with the float, said it featured 24 servicemembers’ photos.

A sign attached to the float noted it was commemorating service members who have passed on and anybody who wants to send in photos can do so by emailing the tavern at

“It’s open to anybody,” Kunz said.

Dave Wilcox drove a tractor in the parade. He said he goes on tractor rides “all the time.”

Chad Miller speaks during the Johnsburg Memorial Day ceremony Monday May 27, 2024.

“I’ve never missed this,” Wilcox said of the parade, adding he started in 1976. He said he noticed less people along the parade route Monday, and thought the weather might be why.

Temperatures during the parade Monday morning were in the upper 50s to low 60s. Monday’s high was 69 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Monday’s relatively chillier weather followed severe weather Sunday evening, which included a tornado warning for eastern McHenry County. The National Weather Service said early Monday morning they hadn’t received any severe weather reports relating to the event.

Severe weather didn’t hamper weekend-long commemorations, including the Field of the Fallen display in Cary and traveling Vietnam wall memorial exhibit in West Dundee.

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