WEST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — After two years off, the city of West Peoria held its 50th annual Independence Day parade.

Hundreds lined the streets in West Peoria Monday for the city’s annual 4th of July parade. West Peoria Mayor James Dillon said it’s something the city looks forward to every year.

“It’s a big deal because we’re known for our 4th of July parade, everybody’s got to be known for something, and so I think it’s special to be known for the 4th of July,” Dillon said.

Monday’s parade was the 50th since 1970 and was the first to occur since 2019. Dillon said the pandemic forced them to cancel the patriotic party in 2020 and 2021. He said it takes months of planning for the event to come together.

“It’s not one person, it’s a lot of volunteers, and we count on the sheriff’s department and fire department to help,” Dillon said.

For some West Peorians the parade has become a staple of their families’ Fourth celebrations every year. Steve Center said he’s been attending since the 1990s.

“It’s a tradition, at 76 years old I love tradition,” Centers said.

Centers said his grandkids attend with him every year and loves seeing the small-town band together as one.

“I missed the other two years when they didn’t have it, but I understand. It’s fun being here and I love watching all the little kids scramble for candy,” Centers said. “I think it’s great, I really do. Like I said, it just draws the community together and to see everybody show up and support it’s really cool. I love to see the kids enjoy the parade.”

This year’s grand marshal was West Peoria Fire Chief Terry Schadt.

More than 70 floats and organizations participated in the parade. Dillion said he hopes to have more participants next year.