Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Memorial Day in Northern Illinois

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG DeKalb American Legion Post 66 Commander John Lahuta spoke to a gathered crowd of hundreds on the lawn of the Ellwood House in DeKalb after Saturday's Memorial Day Parade.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Members of the DeKalb Interfaith Network for Peace and Justice marched in DeKalb's Memorial Day parade for the third year carrying photographs of the 166 Illinois service men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003. "It's an effort to memorialize all the sacrifice of human life," said co-coordinator Dan Kenney, second from right.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Sycamore native and active-duty U.S. Army solder Chris Isabel, left, and Sycamore Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5768 Gerry Drake carry the colors at the start of Sycamore's Memorial Day Parade along California Street on Monday morning.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Kaleb White, 3, of Sycamore, kicks up some water with his shoes before the start of Sycamore's Memorial Day Parade Monday morning on California Street.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Kaitlyn Proulx, 6, left, and Maggie Nanfria, 6, of Daisy Troop 463 of St. Mary's School in Sycamore pose for a photograph before marching in Sycamore's Memorial Day Parade Monday morning in Sycamore.

It's Here

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Andrew Moore, 26, fills up his Volkswagen Jetta Sunday at Sebby’s University Shell on West Lincoln Highway in DeKalb. For Moore, a trip to the pump lately has meant taking a hard look at the financial feasibility of his lifestyle. “I did decide to sell my car because I can’t afford to pay for gas and insurance,” he said.

Four Dollar Gas

Story and Photograph by Eric Sumberg

With each monetary milestone, we shake our heads. Two dollars for a gallon of gas? Now three? Gas costs four dollars?

It seems like every day brings a new report of the high cost of a barrel of light, sweet crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In mid-February, the cost per barrel broke $100. The price one year ago was roughly half of what it is now, $132.19 per barrel. Where it will end - determined by demand, supply concerns, a weak dollar and numerous other factors - is a matter of intense speculation on Wall Street and in dining rooms and board rooms across the country.

“People think we're making a lot of money, but they have to realize we're getting charged a lot also,” said Josh Scalia, an employee at Sebby's University Shell on West Lincoln Highway in DeKalb. “People aren't buying gas anymore. They can't afford it. Not to mention that half of DeKalb goes home every summer.”

An informal survey of regular unleaded gas prices in the DeKalb area Sunday revealed a range from $3.98, at the Clark gas station on DeKalb Avenue, to $4.05, at Sebby's and the Marathon station one block west at Pearl Street.

Linda Bobowski of Des Plaines pulled into Sebby's on Sunday in a Chevy Suburban, her husband's car. She only needed to put a few dollars' worth of gas in the vehicle to make it to the Pacific Pride station on Peace Road, but even with the $2.98 per gallon E85 blend there - 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline - she expected to spend $75 to fill up.

“I try to combine trips so I'm not making so many,” Bobowski said. “Most of the time I drive my car that's a little more fuel efficient.”

Andrew Moore is an undergraduate at Northern Illinois University who paid $50.28 for 12.3 gallons of regular unleaded gasoline Sunday afternoon at Sebby's. Moore works part-time in Elburn at a greenhouse, a job he has held for a number of years.

“I end up spending half of my paycheck to get to work and back,” Moore said, estimating he spends $75 each week on fuel. “With gas and everything it ends up being less than minimum wage.”

His solution? Sell the Volkswagen Jetta he purchased new in 2004 for a car with lower insurance payments and better fuel efficiency. His current car gets about 26-30 miles per gallon, which he estimates costs him about $4 to drive 30 miles. Though filling up is costly, Moore doesn't expect prices to go down soon.

“With urban sprawl and everything, I don't think it's going anywhere,” he said.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Sycamore's Krista Koeplin (left) absorbs an elbow to the face from Hononegah's Taylor Scott in the second half of the Spartans' 2-0 loss to the Indians in the IHSA Class 2A Freeport Sectional Final Thursday evening in Freeport.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Sycamore goalie Sarah Fischer, left, readies for a shot on goal as Spartan defeners Tory Tilton (14) and Emily Hamden (9) tie up Hononegah's Katie Fluegel (8) in the second half of the Spartans' 0-2 loss to the Indians in the IHSA Class 2A Freeport Sectional final Thursday evening in Freeport.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG There were smiles but also tears on the faces of Spartan players, from left, Nici Newquist, Tori Tilton, and Lauren Hawkins at the end of Thursday evening's match. Sycamore ends the season 16-5-3 and loses five seniors from this year's team after advancing the furthest it ever has in the playoffs under Lichamer.

Eyes Wide Open

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG On Thursday, 18-year-old Mathew Outlaw of Genoa (left) and 19-year-old Lisa Shockey of Cortland walked among the 144 boots arranged outside of DeKalb High School. Each pair represents a member of the military from Illinois who died in the war in Iraq or the conflict in Afghanistan.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Jill Doub, 24, of Eyes Wide Open, ties laces on the boots that represent one of the 144 members of the military from Illinois who have died in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The traveling exhibition, Eyes Wide Open, began in 2004 and represented the total number of U.S. military personnel who were killed. The exhibition has since been divided by state, according to Jill Doub of Eyes Wide Open. “We’re looking to raise awareness of the human cost of war,” Doub said.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Daisies adorn the boots representing Illinois National Guard 1st Lt. Brian D. Slavenas at the Eyes Wide Open traveling exhibition at DeKalb High School on Thursday afternoon. Slavenas, of Genoa, died in November 2003 in Iraq.

Time Starts Again

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Floyd Stamper (left) and Bob Heald install on Thursday a replica clock face made of polycarbonate on the Soldier and Sailors Memorial Clock, which is near the intersection of Lincoln Highway and First Street in DeKalb. The face and hands are replicas of those on the original 1921 E. Howard and Co. clock, and a new computerized system that accounts for power outages and daylight saving time has been installed.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Bob Heald, clock manager of the Rock Island-based The Fancy Street Clock & Light Co., adjusts the magnetic motor behind one of the four faces of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Clock in downtown DeKalb on Thursday morning.

The one-of-a-kind clock was dedicated Feb. 13, 1921, in honor of all soldiers and sailors. Some of the clock's inner components began to fail because of deterioration and moisture, DeKalb Public Works Director Rick Monas said Thursday. The clock faces had faded and the original wooden hands had to be replaced.

The city is saving the original components of the clock, Monas said. The Landmark Commission of the City of DeKalb would like to eventually restore all the original parts, he added.

But that will take time, he said, and the city has been anxious to have the clock working again since it stopped working about a year ago. “We went through Veterans Day without the clock,” he said. “In due respect to all those veterans who appreciate the purpose behind the clock, it's time to have it working.”

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG The glass faces (left) of the original Soldier and Sailors Memorial Clock in downtown DeKalb will be stored by the city while the bezels will be reinstalled on the clock being restored by The Fancy Street Clock & Light Co. of Rock Island.

The Beginning of the End

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Genoa-Kingston High School graduate Melani Giannoni, 18, smiles at well-wishers in the crowd before the start of the high school's 137th commencement exercise Wednesday night in Genoa.

What A Game!

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Sycamore forward Nici Newquist, left, battles for the ball with Rockford Boylan's Monica Barrera in the first half of the Spartans' IHSA Class 2A Freeport Sectional semi-final game Tuesday evening in Freeport.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Sycamore goalie Sarah Fischer had thirteen saves on the night for the Spartans as she shut down the top-seeded Titans of Rockford Boylan.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Sycamore forward Tory Tilton (14) is mobbed by teammates, from left, Mackenzie Mueller (1), Krista Koeplin (5) and Nici Newquist (2) after scoring the go-ahead goal against top-seeded Rockford Boylan with five minutes remaining to put the Spartans up 2-1 over the Titans.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Sycamore's Katie Bolander, left, and Rockford Boylan's Taylor Reed compete for a header in the second half.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Players on the Sycamore Spartans bench leap onto the field after the Spartans' 2-1 victory in the IHSA Class 2A Freeport Sectional semi-final game Tuesday evening in Freeport.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Foulk's Facts

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Anthony Foulk is the backstop of a Sycamore Spartan baseball team that heads into the playoffs Wednesday in Dixon. “He's Division I talent with Division III size,” head coach Jason Cavanaugh said. “There's no doubt in my mind that he can play catcher, second base or third base at the Division I level but he's going to continually get overlooked because of his size, which is unfair, but that's the way it works.”

Your One Day to See the Barn

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Preservationist Roger Keys (right), speaks with Sharon and Rex Lea Trea of Sycamore on Sunday afternoon outside the barn at the Joseph F. Glidden Homestead & Historical Center in DeKalb. The barn, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and abuts a Burger King parking lot, is a true survivor, according to Keys. “We’re pretty much preserving the building until we can raise the funds for restoration,” he said.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG A discarded art project with a barbed-wire theme lies in the back of the Glidden Homestead barn as visitors gather near the entrance to the 19th-century structure Sunday. The barn, which is under renovation, is believed to be the site where Joseph Glidden first manufactured “The Winner” barbed wire in the early 1870s.

DeKalb County: The Music World's Hub

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Operations manager Bobby Joe Rinaldo directs traffic as employees of Nocturne Productions in DeKalb load a semitrailer with cases for the rock band Metallica on Thursday morning at the business’ warehouse. DeKalb-based Nocturne Productions specializes in high-definition video screens and projection, and Upstaging Inc. in Sycamore builds lighting equipment and stage pieces and operates a fleet of trucks to transport the gear all over the country.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG The Nocturne Productions warehouse, located on Harvestore Road in DeKalb since 2005, is 35,000 square feet of cases, wires and video equipment staffed by 20 employees locally and 150 who tour with bands across America. Nocturne built and ran the video for Paul McCartney's Super Bowl halftime performance in February 2005.

NIU Graduates 3,000

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Graduates in the Northern Illinois University College of Visual and Performing Arts gathered at Victor E. Court before heading to the arena of the Convocation Center for commencement exercises Saturday evening.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG The shoes were off for doctoral candidate in audiology student Lindsay Scorpio, left, 26, of Austin, Texas, as she waited with her fellow graduates before the start of Saturday evening's commencement exercises in the Convocation Center. 2008 marked the first year NIU graduated students with doctorates in audiology, which is the study hearing, balance, and related problems.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Yung-Chin Chang, center, waves to friends in the audience as she waits to sit before the third of three commencement exercises at the Convocation Center Saturday evening in DeKalb. Chang, 23, was born in Taiwan and received a master's degree in music on Saturday and said that her parents were watching the ceremony simulcast on the internet.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Northern Illinois University President John Peters, left, bows his head during a moment of silence to remember those killed during the Feb. 14 shootings on the NIU campus at the start of the last of three commencement exercises on Saturday.
“We could not control the circumstances that gave us this gift of perspective,” Peters said in his speech to the graduates. “But each of us can determine how to use it. My wish for you: May your gift be one that guides you toward good decisions, compels you to embrace a life of purpose and reminds you to demonstrate compassion in all you do.”

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG More than 3,000 Northern Illinois University students graduated in three separate commencement ceremonies on Saturday.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG An excited graduate student from Northern Illinois University's College of Education holds her degree for friends and family to see at Saturday evening's commencement ceremony at the school's Convocation Center.

Cogs Triple It Up

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Genoa-Kingston baserunner Sarah Bergstrom collides with Stillman Valley third baseman Tara Beach in the fourth inning of the Cogs' 1-0 victory over the Cardinals Saturday morning in Genoa. Bergstrom scored after the ball escaped Beach's grasp on this play.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Genoa-Kingston's Sarah Bergstrom, center, leaps into the arms of her teammates after scoring the lone run of the game for the Cogs in the fourth inning of their 1-0 victory over Stillman Valley to capture the IHSA Class AA Genoa-Kingston Regional Final Saturday morning in Genoa.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG The Cogs of Genoa-Kingston High School rush the field after defeating the Stillman Valley Cardinals 1-0 behind a one-hitter from pitcher Lindsay Decker to capture the Class AA Regional Final Saturday morning in Genoa.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG For the third year in a row, the Cogs of Genoa-Kingston won the IHSA Class AA Genoa-Kingston Regional Final.

Marian Beguin

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Wright Elementary School second-grader Hank Barnes, 7, is delighted as a monarch butterfly alights on his hand Friday afternoon during a ceremony in memory of kindergarten teacher Marian Beguin at the Malta school. Staff, students and parents came together at the school to remember Beguin, who was killed in an automobile accident in August, and to dedicate a bench, decorated with butterflies, in her memory.

In Her Honor

Chronicle story and photographs by Eric Sumberg

On a day that seemed like a gift from the heavens, the community of Wright Elementary School gave a gift to one of their own.

Wright Elementary School students, staff and parents gathered on Friday in front of their low-slung Malta building with a mix of anticipation and sadness for a ceremony in honor of Marian Beguin, a kindergarten teacher who was killed in an automobile accident in August.

“She would be proud of each and every one of you,” said David Beguin, her husband, as he thanked attendees and those who contributed money toward a memorial bench that was unveiled at the ceremony, as well as those who contributed to the scrapbook of notes that he was given at the event.

Principal Gina Greenwald began Friday's gathering by recounting stories of how much joy Beguin brought to her students in the two years she taught at Wright.

“It's her laugh. She was so enthusiastic about learning. She was right there, engulfed in it as much as the children,” Greenwald said. “She truly had a love for making kids happy as they were learning.”

The bench, which sits near the school's entrance, was created by a North Carolina artist who makes memorial benches. It has a painted concrete bottom and mosaic top made with small bits of china arranged in the shape of butterflies.

Butterflies factored heavily into Friday's ceremony, a tribute to Beguin's love of teaching about the life cycle of that insect. Beguin's daughter, 16-year-old Catherine, released monarch butterflies to the delight of all as they fluttered about in the wind and landed on the occasional student.

“Our entire family appreciates the support of the kids, the parents and the staff at Wright. They are family,” David Beguin said. “She loved the kids, she loved to teach. Part of the love she left here we leave with the kids of Wright. She was a special lady, and we thank God every day for her.”

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Members of the DeKalb-area and Wright Elementary School communities donated money for this bench to be built in honor of Marian Beguin, a kindergarten teacher at the Malta school who was killed in an automobile accident in August. “She truly had a love for making kids happy as they were learning,” Principal Gina Greenwald said.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Slide Royals

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Hinckley-Big Rock's Jake Paver slides in safely past the tag of Somonauk catcher Steve Weismiller during the third inning of Thursday's IHSA Class A Somonauk Regional semifinal won 4-3 by the Royals.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Despite photographic evidence to the contrary, Hinckley-Big Rock baserunner Jake Paver was called out after Somonauk first baseman Sal Peritore dove to tag first base to end the fourth inning of Thursday's IHSA Class A Somonauk Regional semifinal won 4-3 by the Royals.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Somonauk second baseman Tyler Buell checks the ground for a sliding Nolan Craig of Hinckley-Big Rock after unsuccessfully corraling a throw to catch Craig stealing in the top of the fifth inning of the Royals' 4-3 victory in the IHSA Class A Somonauk Regional semifinal Thursday at Somonauk High School.

A Different Beat

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Jody Cook, owner of A Different Drummer Music in Somonauk, assembles a drum in his store Thursday afternoon. Cook likes the freedom that owning a business gives him, even if it means he does a lot of the grunt work around the store. “Since it’s my place, I can make sure things are getting done,” Cook said.

Of Drums and Men

Editor's note: This is the 12th in an occasional series chronicling an hour in the life of DeKalb County residents. Jody Cook owns A Different Drummer Music in Somonauk. Daily Chronicle photographer Eric Sumberg spent time with him from 2:45-3:45 p.m. Thursday.

The windows on the front of the building at South Depot and West DeKalb streets in Somonauk are notable for their height and breadth.

As one stands on the street, the panes are an impressive 9 feet wide and stretch from waist height to about 12 feet tall. The light washes through them on even an overcast day.

This is the site of A Different Drummer Music, owned by Jody Cook, a sturdily built 40-year-old man with a beard and with tattoos running up both of his arms.

“We're new here, opened up the first week in January,” Cook said as he assembled the floor tom - a double-headed tom-tom drum - of a set of Mapex QR Series drums for a customer Thursday afternoon. “It's been going good.”

Cook operates the store with the help of his wife, Gayla, and his sister, Amy Kember. Also helping are a grandson, 3-year-old Alex Parker, and a rotating cast of three music professionals, including himself, who give guitar and drum lessons.

From 2001 until last year, he owned a store in Ottawa named A Different Drummer. He sold it to a couple of his former employees.

“This is closer to my home, and the best way to say it is I wanted to do things a little bit differently than I did in Ottawa,” Cook said. “That was my first attempt at a business.”

Cook is a native of Sheridan and attended high school in Serena. After working at a body shop for two years, he began a 10-year stint at the Sheridan Correctional Center, a job he held until 1998.

His love for music has endured.

“I started playing drums in grade school, started taking drum set lessons from Santucci's Music,” said Cook, referring to a now-defunct Ottawa music store. “I guess I always wanted to do something with music.”

Now that he operates, by his own estimation, the only area music shop apart from stores in DeKalb and Naperville, he considers himself a wiser businessman.

“I think I learned some more efficient ways to do business, how to handle employees, that sort of thing,” Cook said of his previous store. The lesson was to trust yourself to do what you need done and no one else, he said.

While his original plan was to open a store in Yorkville - a competitor, now closed, had already opened a business there - he said he is happy with how things have turned out.

“I like the building, the rent was reasonable,” he said. “We're a little smaller than we were in Ottawa.”

The money in the music store business is in the small stuff, drumheads and other items of musical life. Cook attempts to stay in the black financially by owning everything he sells in his shop.

“It's not a huge moneymaker, but it is potentially a big moneymaker. It doesn't have to be a million-dollar business off the bat to make it something you do and afford you a comfortable living,” he said.

On any given day, he can have five people trickle into his shop or more than 50. It doesn't really matter to Cook.

“The most enjoyable part is when you take a student that is young when they're really enjoying drums or guitar. They're looking at equipment the way I used to look at equipment. You can be a part of something they're interested in.”

Prom, DeKalb, Style

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Anthony Chatman (rear) checks the fit of the white prom suit his son, Kenneth Wiggins, tries on at Ducky’s Formal Wear on Thursday afternoon in DeKalb. Wiggins, a junior at DeKalb High School, was planning to wear an orange tie and pocket square to match his girlfriend’s dress.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Kris Wrenn, a manager at Kar-Fre Flowers, prepares a boutonniere after crafting a corsage (bottom) out of roses, baby’s breath and rhinestones at the Sycamore store Thursday afternoon in preparation for DeKalb High School’s prom, which was Saturday.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Ducky’s Formal Wear employee Kaitlyn Alexander, 19, hurries as she carries three dresses for a customer to try on Thursday afternoon at the DeKalb store. “It’s fun being with the prom kids,” said Alexander, a student at Northern Illinois University. “It’s fun, but busy.”

Barbs Triumph 4-nil

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG A Marengo player hits the turf in the first half of the IHSA Class 2A DeKalb Regional semifinal game Wednesday.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG DeKalb High School's Karen Lehan, left, walks off the field as her teammates Taylor Hallgren (9) and Kay Smith (13) chest bump at midfield after the Barbs dismantled the Marengo Indians 4-0 in their Class 4A IHSA DeKalb Regional game. Hallgren scored a hat trick on the day and Erin Finucane added the fourth goal in Wednesday's game at DeKalb High School.

The Newquists

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Sycamore High School junior and soccer team co-captain Nici Newquist (left) was taught the game by her mother Tammy Newquist, who is now a first-year assistant for the Indian Creek girls soccer team. Though her schedule now prohibits her from watching Nici's matches, Tammy Newquist is confident she is having a good time on the pitch. “We're happy that she's doing this with us there and without us there,” Tammy Newquist said.


Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG DeKalb mom Kristine Nelson relaxes between frames of bowling with her son, Jacob Bidstrup (rear), as her daughter, Penelope Price, 9 months, crawls under the scorer’s table at Mardi Gras Lanes Sunday afternoon in DeKalb. Moms bowled free on Sunday at the bowling alley, and Jacob took turns watching Penelope so Kristine could bowl. “This is kind of our pastime together, to bowl,” Nelson said.

Mom's Moment

Story and Photograph by Eric Sumberg

Debbie Geiger of Sycamore had a Mother's Day that may sound familiar to some others in the DeKalb area.

“In true Mother's Day fashion, we went to McDonald's for lunch and got Happy Meals, and the boys made me breakfast in bed this morning,” Geiger said in between turns at Mardi Gras Lanes on Sunday afternoon.

What did her sons, Michael, 8, and Andrew, 6, serve her?

“Frosted Flakes,” she said. “And they were the best Frosted Flakes!”

Geiger, accompanied by her husband, Damon, was one of the local mothers being treated to something else special on Sunday: free bowling. This was the second year that Mardi Gras Lanes offered the discount for Mother's Day, according to employee Bill Smith, who reported higher than normal attendance for the end of the week.

“Mother's Day is special. Moms always get a break,” he said.

For moms such as Ellen Mays of DeKalb, Sunday's rain allowed her to spend some quality time at the lanes with her son Andy, 5.

“We went to the Y to swim,” Mays said, adding that her husband, Sean, was watching

22-month-old twins Ryan and Kyle at home as part of his gift to her. “He can stay home and work, and I can come out and have fun.”

Andy gave his mom a flower and a heart covered by a handprint and a poem, and Sean gave her a shirt, a purse, and the day off.

“I think we're going to order out so I don't have to cook,” Mays said with a laugh.

Charlie Pelton and LeeAnn Kennedy of DeKalb brought a whole crew of grandparents, sisters and kids to the lanes, including 11-month-old Tristan Pelton and 9-year-old Domanic Kennedy. Another son, Sabian, 16, couldn't make it because he was under the weather, but Sunday was otherwise a very pleasant Mother's Day for LeeAnn. She received flowers and breakfast, and Domanic put towels on the floor for a makeshift red carpet as she exited her bedroom that morning.

“We went to Ruby Tuesday last night, to eliminate the rush,” she said. “It's been a great day.”

Cortland's Jacob Bidstrup, 17, and his mom, Kristine Nelson, of DeKalb were at the lanes as usual on Sunday with Nelson's daughter, Penelope Price, who is 9 months old.

“This is kind of our pastime together,” Nelson said, adding that Penelope enjoys seeing the balls go down the lane. While Jacob bought his mother an Italian beef sandwich at Portillo's on Sunday and gave her money to get her hair done, perhaps the greatest demonstration of how he feels about his mom was on the scoreboard. Instead of Kristine's name, the scorecard read “Supermom.”

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sycamore 150

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Discover Sycamore director Jamie Sands wears a handmade dress while distributing historical postcards to those in attendance at Sycamore Park for a picnic to celebrate the city’s 150th year. Sands, who did not grow up in the area, believed that Midwestern hospitality was an exaggeration until she moved to Sycamore. “I thought it could only partially be true, but here, more than any other place, I find that hospitality,”

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG One-year-old Lillian Bruhl of Maple Park enjoys a cupcake with the numbers 150 written on it in icing served by her aunt Christiene Drake of Sycamore at the Sycamore Sesquicentennial Ceremony Friday night on the lawn in front of the DeKalb County Courthouse. Hundreds turned out to listen to historical proclamations and hear high school and elementary school bands and choirs perform American hymns to kick off the year of celebrations.