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Walnut Days then and now

When I was a kid, I looked forward to Walnut Days.

It's hard to describe but there was just a different feel in the air in Walnut that weekend. You probably know what I mean.

There were the sounds.

Chainsaw carvers. Helicopter rides. Golf carts and Four-wheelers driving through town. People letting off their own fireworks at all hours of the day and then Kendall blasting his test fireworks every few hours on Sunday afternoon.

I looked forward to all the events.

Sitting on the curb, watching the parade and collecting candy.

Sitting on the bleachers watching the adults in the softball tournament, looking forward to when I was old enough to play.

The kids games and free watermelon and then a stroll through the car show.

Saturday morning was occupied by the 3-on-3 tournament and drinking lots of Gatorade.

Then there was the baseball card show. Larry Wilcoxen had a great card collection and he was there every year. Do kids even collect baseball cards anymore? That was probably my highlight of the weekend.

Of course, the fireworks. A great way to cap off the weekend. I'm pretty sure I haven't missed one in my 34 years. As a kid, Sunday took forever as you would anticipate sitting on the hill with thousands of people. We were all there for one reason: to celebrate our freedom and get a fantastic show.

A lot has changed since I was a kid, but really a lot has stayed the same.

I still look forward to Walnut Days. But, now I get to spend it with my kids.

I still sit on the curb to watch the parade. Now, I watch my kids collect the candy.

I'm still there for the kids game and the watermelon and the car show. Now I'm holding my daughter's hands as I stroll through the Park District grounds.

Saturday morning is still occupied with the 3-on-3 tournament. Now I have a whistle around my neck as I referee the games.

Sadly, there is no baseball card show anymore. But the chainsaw carvers, the helicopter rides, the golf carts, four-wheelers, people letting off fireworks, and Kendall's test blasts are all still around and a reminder of my childhood.

The fireworks show. It's still amazing to this day. Probably better. Kendall and his crew do a fantastic job making it one of the best displays in the state. I'm glad I can enjoy it with my kids.

That different feeling in the air throughout town that weekend, it's still there. Even as an adult. It's the excitement. It's backyard BBQ's. It's seeing people you haven't seen in years.

I hope I see you around Walnut next weekend. I know more memories will be created from another great celebration.

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