DOWNERS GROVE – Vietnam veteran David Sapyta and his Dutch Shepherd, Lucy, herself a veteran bomb-sniffing dog from Afghanistan, will lead the Fourth of July Parade in Downers Grove as the grand marshals on Friday.
Sapyta, of Downers Grove, served in Vietnam in the 101st Airborne Rangers, earning two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star. Lucy served five years in Afghanistan, alerting soldiers to land mines or explosive devices by laying down and blocking their path.
David and his wife, Lynn Sapyta, adopted Lucy about two years ago after a philanthropist flew her back to a private facility in the U.S. following her tour of duty.
They will be joined by more than 70 other parade entries, including the Downers Grove Community High School district marching band and the Proviso East marching band. New this year will be the Firefighters Highland Guard of Naperville Pipe and drum band.
In addition to the Sapytas, another group of veterans will provide an additional highlight during the procession.
A group of more than 10 members of the Downers Grove Community High School class of 1944 will ride on a float donated by Home Depot.
"It was our senior year and the World War II was a dynamic factor in our life," said class of 44 member Dr. Floyd Mizener. "Many of the seniors were, or would be, 18 years of age, (and) would face a draft, or choose to enlist for a choice in a branch of military service."
At the wisdom of the school principal, the men in his class doubled-up on subjects in order to officially graduate before shipping off.
He said of the class's 215 members, about half are estimated to still be living, and about 25 still live in the area. Class member Jake Pollack arranged the unofficial reunion at the parade.
The parade will launch from Main and Grant streets about 1 p.m., and will disperse at Main Street and Warren avenue.
"I want to remind people to make sure they bring water to hydrate themselves during the sunny day," said Downers Grove Emergency Management Coordinator Mary Pratt. "And if it's really sunny make sure to put on some sunscreen and come out and enjoy the day and celebrate Independence Day."
The parade will be followed by the fireworks show at 9:30 p.m. near the intersection of 75th Street and Lemont Road.
After a brief absence, Darien has rejoined Downers Grove and Woodridge in hosting the display, and Pratt said the show will be bigger than last year.
"We were all be to put more dollars into it," she said. "It's a little longer this year, it should be a larger show. We're very happy to be partnering with both communities."
She said it should run about 25 minutes.
Parade road closures
Main Street will be closed from Grant to Warren streets during the parade.
Sherman Street will be closed between Main and Prince streets.
Sherman will also be closed from Main Street to Highland Avenue.