The grand marshal for Crystal Lake’s Independence Day Parade this year will be Paul Leech, the owner of several Crystal Lake businesses including The Cottage and the new cocktail bar Jude’s.
This year’s parade will step off at 1 p.m. Sunday, July 4, and follow its regular 1.8-mile route beginning at Crystal Lake City Hall, proceeding down Dole Avenue and ending at the Dole Mansion grounds.
“Paul’s investment in the downtown Crystal Lake shopping and dining district with his businesses, active role in the community and generosity has made a significant impact on the Crystal Lake area,” the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce said in a news release.
Leech, who owns The Cottage, Jude’s Cocktails and Nosh, Cottage on the Beach and Hickory Hall, also is on the Crystal Lake Economic Development Committee and sat on the board for the Cardboard Cup Regatta for five years.
The Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce said Leech’s “innovative” ideas allowed him to thrive, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jude’s, which opened in December 2020, features an outdoor dining space and heated garage with a door that opens fully.
In February, the Crystal Lake Park District summer day camps received a donation from Leech and The Cottage for $3,806, which was raised at a golf outing, according to the release. The donation will be earmarked for summer day camp scholarships for children with financial limitations.
According to the news release, Leech’s favorite charities are Habitat for Humanity and the United Way of McHenry County.
Originally born in Liverpool, England, Leech came to the U.S. in 2002 and became a naturalized citizen in 2017. Leech has lived in Crystal Lake 19 years. He is married to Brittany and has a daughter, Lucy, who attends South Elementary School and two adult sons, Daniel, who lives in the United Kingdom, and Matthew, who resides in the U.S.