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I Am An American Day Parade Returns to Oak Forest

Officials believe the annual tradition ended in the early 1980s, but the event will return to be held alongside the War of 1812 Re-Enactment this September.


After about three decades of being missing in action, the I Am An American Day Parade will return to Oak Forest this year in September.

Hosted by the Oak Forest Veterans Commission, this year’s parade will be on Central Avenue from 151st Street to Independence on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 11 a.m. -- although the parade was held on Cicero Avenue in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Veterans Commission invites all local schools, churches, businesses, and community groups to the parade, which will lead to the War of 1812 Re-enactment at the Oak Fest grounds, 159th and Central Avenue. The re-enactment will include battles on Sept. 15 at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. and on Sept. 16 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Oak Forest Public Relations Coordinator Chrissy Maher said the I Am An American Day parade ended in the early 1980s, but no one really knows why.

"Alderman Rich Simon approached the Oak Forest Veterans Commission about bringing it back as a way for the community to celebrate our country, our freedom, and those who fought and still fight for that freedom," Maher said. "The Veterans Commission thought the parade would tie in nicely with an event they were already planning - the War of 1812 Re-enactment, which will mark the bicentennial of the war." 

A movement to honor U.S. citizens and newly naturalized citizens began in 1939; I Am An American Day was established on Sept. 17 by President Harry S. Truman in 1952, according to information Assistant Community Development Director Dave Newquist found in the History of Oak Forest Book. The name of the day was eventually changed to Citizenship Day and the city of Chicago invited Oak Forest to join the parade in 1953. Oak Forest officials then decided to host their own parade.

"I think residents will want to support the event to show their pride in being Americans and Oak Foresters," Maher said. "It’s also a way to say thank you to our veterans and show our support for their sacrifice." 

Veterans Commission Chair Craig Miller said he can remember participating in the parade as a Boy Scout.

It was a lot of fun and a great way to celebrate our country,” Miller said in a statement. “I’m excited to bring this back to Oak Forest so that my kids can be a part of it.”

For more information or to register for the parade, please contact Chrissy Maher at 708-687-4050, ext. 1043, cmaher@oak-forest.org, or visit www.oak-forest.org.

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