Year in and year out, the community fills the grounds behind Sacred Heart Church on Route 11 for the Cicero Community Festival.
“We usually average about 7,000 people,” said Steve Becker, one of the event’s organizers. “I think that speaks for itself. It’s become a tradition year in and year out to come to the festival. The cruise night is popular. People like seeing the classic cars. People love Ruby Shooz. We have hundreds of people come to the parade, participating as well as watching.”
What: Cicero Community Festival
When: 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, June 7, and noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, June 8
Where: Parking lot and grounds behind Sacred Heart Church, 8229 Brewerton Road (Route 11), Cicero
Admission is $3 per car Friday for the car cruise and free Saturday. For more information, including a full schedule of events, visit cicerofestival.com.
The festival, which celebrates its 21st year when it kicks off Friday, June 7, is offered by the Greater Cicero Chamber of Commerce every year to support area businesses. Drivers Village co-sponsors the event.
“It recognizes the different businesses that have been in the Cicero area,” Becker said. “We find that a lot of them are either sponsors or will be at the event as vendors.”
In addition to highlighting local businesses, the festival does what you would expect a community festival to do.
‘It brings the community together,” Becker said. “Cicero is one of the fastest-growing communities in Onondaga County. It’s amazing, the spirit within the town of Cicero, and we’ve seen this come about with the festival and the people coming out to support it. [The festival is] the chamber’s way of giving back to the community.”
Every year, something like 7,000 residents turn out to enjoy everything from the classic cars to the live entertainment. Food vendors will peddle their wares, and numerous businesses are on hand to show off their products, as well. Local dance and martial arts studios host demonstrations and performances, and there’s a fun zone with inflatables and games for the younger set. New this year are three or four midway rides, as well as pony rides, also meant for young kids. Everything wraps up Saturday night with the fireworks spectacular.
For many festival-goers, the main draw is the parade on Saturday. About 700 people usually march in the spectacle. This year’s theme is “Cicero Goes Broadway,” which will carry through the entire festival.
“Every year, we try to come up with something we think people will enjoy,” Becker said. “The committee will sit around the table and come up with a list. Last year, the theme was ‘Passport for Fun.’ The year before, it was ‘Hats Off to Heroes.’ The year before that, it was ‘Rockin’ and Reelin,’ about music and movies. More or less, we come up with a list and it just seems to click. Anybody in the parade can have something from Broadway. For example, the marching bands from the North Syracuse district [will be in the parade]. We’ll have a collection of students from fifth through 12th grade, more than 100 students, performing ‘Mamma Mia.’”
This year’s parade and general festivities will be led by Grand Marshal Dave Longley, chief meteorologist for NewsChannel 9 and a Cicero native. Longley also has multiple sclerosis. As such, tickets will be sold at the festival for $2, with all proceeds benefiting Multiple Sclerosis Resources of Central New York.
As if the good cause wasn’t enough reason to buy the tickets, the prize is something to behold.
“Going along with [the Broadway] theme, we’ll be giving away a trip to a Broadway show,” Becker said. “They’ll get Amtrak tickets, hotel accommodations for two and the tickets, all courtesy of AAA, and there will be runner-up prizes, as well. We’ll be drawing a winner just before the fireworks on Saturday night.”
It’s no wonder people keep coming back to the Cicero Community Festival — and no wonder the organizers keep offering it.
“The chamber thinks it’s important to bring the community together, to recognize the businesses and to offer something for the families,” Becker said. “Really, when you see people are enjoying themselves, you get the feeling this is something you should be doing year in and year out.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.