Hopedale honors WWII Veteran in Independence Day Parade

WWII Navy Veteran Ben Maurer leads the annual Hopedale Independence Day parade in 2022.
WWII Navy Veteran Ben Maurer leads the annual Hopedale Independence Day parade in 2022.(WEEK)
Published: Jul. 4, 2022 at 4:36 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) - Hopedale put off their annual parade in style, featuring handfuls of candy and a special appearance by Abraham Lincoln.

Residents aren’t sure of an exact number, but they say this parade has been going for as long as they can remember.

“It’s always been a wonderful parade, they have a lot of variety,” Mary Dearth said. She and a friend estimated they’ve gone to at least 40 of these annual parades.

One of the oldest Hopedale residents, 98 year old Ben Maurer said he remembers parades from his childhood in the 1920′s and 1930′s. Out of all the parades he’s attended though, this one took on special meaning. Maurer was honored for his service as a World War II Navy veteran as the Grand Marshall of today’s parade.

“Oh my God, I don’t think I’ll ever get over this feeling,” Maurer said. “It’s a great feeling. People clapping when you go by and, you can’t feel that, you got to feel it.”

As he passed by, parade attendees would stand and clap for Maurer, wearing the same uniform he wore when he was 18 in the service.

“I think about the old times in the Navy,” Maurer said on wearing his uniform. “A lot of periods that I don’t think of otherwise, when I put this thing on it’s there.”

He recently attended a Peoria honor flight to Washington D.C. as well, calling it one of the “greatest experiences of his life.”

For other parts of the parade, kids were treated to candy and a performance from the local marching band. Firetrucks, tractors and horses led the procession. At the tail end was a series of local horses and equestrians, which is the favorite part of local resident Hannah Martin.

“I’ve been going since I was young. I’m 22 years old and we go here every year,” Hannah Martin said. “It’s just a good time, small little towns getting together, it’s just nice to get everyone around again.”

The parade is just the beginning of one of the biggest events in Hopedale, according to residents. What follows in a carnival culminating in a fireworks display at dusk.

Copyright 2022 Heart of Illinois ABC. All rights reserved.