All posts by John DiDonna

Aleburn’s finest …

Matt Erion of Batavia won this year’s Aleburn pumpkin race on Saturday at the Elburn American Legion Parking Lot. Aleburn is one of the newest events the Elburn Chamber has to offer. The chamber, along with the Elburn American Legion, holds this event to bring business to downtown Elburn, as well as show off all the great food Elburn has to offer. Kristen Damolaris (above right) prepares to launch her “Money Bags” pumpkin. Jenn Hanson and John Henke have a relaxing game of bag toss at the event. Annie Dybas, Vanessa Theobalt and Alexi Helmlinger (left to right) helped out at the Aleburn festival. Here they are selling pizza.
Photos by John DiDonna

Lovely day for a walk

Kaneland McDole Elementary School participated in the International Walk to School Day Wednesday morning. It is part of the health and wellness initiative to promote fitness for kids. Every class in the school participated. Students were dropped off at a specific location and they all walked together. Photo by John DiDonna

Photo Gallery: Corn Boil brings the fun

There was plenty of food, fun and excitement at the 2011 Sugar Grove Corn Boil last weekend. (Right) Sugar Grove firefighters take on students from the Fox Valley Career Center Fire Science program during Sunday’s water fights. For more photos from the 2011 Corn Boil, visit For photos of the Corn Boil 5K, click here. Photo by John DiDonna

Gallery photos by John DiDonna and Ben Draper

Photo gallery: St. Gall honors the departed

St. Gall Parish held a special Veterans Mass at St. Gall Cemetery on Sunday. The mass was offered in remembrance of those deceased (a number of whom are buried in the parish cemetery). Names of all parishioners known to have served in the military were read in a special prayer. American Legion, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts also participated. Photo by John DiDonna

Movies under the stars

Cousins Jordyn Withey (left) and Morgan Withey enjoy a Bugs Bunny cartoon before the start of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice on Friday evening. Hill’s Country Store in Kaneville held their first movie night of the summer, a once-a-month event through August. Paisano’s donated free pizza and Rich’s Auto provided free popcorn for the event.
Photo by John DiDonna

Journey back in time

Sir James Bamford and Sir William Lancaster taught the audience all about the middle ages and the history of the Crusades at the Sugar Grove Public Library on Saturday. Sir Bamford (left) teaches 8 year old Zach Larkin how a spear was used in battle. The event was sponsored by the Sugar Grove Library Friends.
Photo by John DiDonna

Nothing gets these vets down

Army veteran Bob Arciola, assisted by Barb Arciola, uses a special electronic breathing devise to pull the trigger when shooting trap. Here he hits the target in the first round during the 15th annual PVA of America National Trapshoot competition on Saturday at the St. Charles Sportsmen’s Club.

Jack Gill, U.S. Army Airborne, (top photo) from Sioux Falls, S.D. ejects a shell between firings during the competition.

Steve Kettenhoven (right) of Clintonville, Wis. has Cerebral Palsy, but it didn’t stop him from becoming an expert marksman. His chair is set up with everything he needs, including plenty of ammunition.

Photos by John DiDonna

A look at aviation history

Air Classics Museum of Aviation, located at the Aurora Municipal Airport in Sugar Grove, held an open house on Saturday. Pat Boyle (right) of St. Charles is a flight instructor at the DeKalb airport and also served in the Korean War. Here he checks out a RF86 F Sabre jet during the open house. This type of jet was one of the first aircraft to break the sound barrier. People came from all over to see planes and helicopters up close and even climb inside some of them. Below, Luke Stoffer, 7, from Oakbrook, Ill., sits in the pilot seat of a UH-1 Huey helicopter. The museum’s collection includes aircraft, vehicles, uniforms and other aviation memorabilia from the 1930s to the present time.

Photos by John DiDonna

It’s Zumba

Vicky Porter-Spratt from Yorkville is a licensed Zumba fitness instructor. She leads a class every Tuesday and Thursday evening at the Elburn and Countryside Community Center. Zumba involves dance and aerobic elements. It is a Latin inspired dance fitness program created in the 1990’s and is taught by some 20,000 instructors in 35 countries. Photo by John DiDonna

Stay safe during storms

Brad Hruza of Elburn shows a picture of a storm in Elburn last October during a presentation at the Sugar Grove Library on Saturday. Hruza is a veteran storm chaser and National Weather Service spotter. At his seminars, he teaches what to know and look for as severe weather approaches. He also tries to help ease the fear of storms in children. He talks about what to do in various situations and what safety items we should keep on hand. This is his 16th year of chasing storms. He will also be at the Town and Country Public Library in Elburn on Tuesday, July 12. Photo by John DiDonna

Hall of Fame at KHS

Sophomore Danielle McCormack receives her award from Principal Fantozzi during the 2011 Academic Achievement and Hall of Fame Awards on May 2 at the high school auditorium.
Photos by John DiDonna

Rich Born (left) presents ten members of the 1976 Kaneland boy's track team with the Hall of Fame Award for Teamwork during the Academic Achievement and Hall of Fame awards on Monday, May 2 at the high school. Kaneland won the district track meet in 1976 with 72 points and qualified twelve men for state competition. Photo by John DiDonna

James C. Hannon, Ph.D., CSCS (right) receives the Kaneland 2011 Hall of Fame Award for Personal Achievement from Cross Country Coach Chad Clarey (center) and Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler (left) during the Academic Achievement Awards and Hall of Fame Induction ceremony on Monday, May 2 at the High School. Dr. Hannon is a tenured Associate Professor at the University of Utah and a 1988 Kaneland High School graduate.

Ronald J. Ackerman gives a speech after accepting the award for Extra-Curricular at the Kaneland Hall of Fame awards on Monday, May 2. Mr. Ackerman attended Kaneland High School, graduating in 1975. He played football, basketball and ran track all four years. He was the state champion in the 880 yd. dash and a member of the state champion mile relay team. In 2002, Ron was appointed Chief of the West Chicago Fire Department.

The wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wicked Witch of the West, played by Emily Grams, confronts Glinda (Kyra Trynoski) and Dorothy (Rachel Miller) in Kaneland Harter Middle School’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” last Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Middle School. The musical was directed by Lori Grant and Brian Kowalski and Student Director Caitrin Mills. Photo by John DiDonna

The Kaneland Harter Middle School Presented The Wizard of Oz last Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was directed by Lori Grant and Brian Kowalski and Student Director Caitrin Mills. Here (L to R) is Dillon Lynn (The Tinman), Ryan Mitchell (The Scarecrow), Rachel Miller (Dorothy), and Michael Stanley (The Cowardly Lion).

Dorothy, played by Rachel Miller is surrounded by Munchkins in the Kaneland Harter Middle School presentation of The Wizard of Oz last Friday at the Middle School. Rachel has been involved in many school productions and is a member of the HMS Chorus, the basketball team and the track team.

Professor Marvel/The Wizard of Oz (right) is played by Taylor Eaves in the Kaneland Harter Middle School presentation of The Wizard of Oz last Friday at the Middle School. Dorothy is played by Rachel Miller. It was directed by Lori Grant and Brian Kowalski and Student Director Caitrin Mills. Photo by John DiDonna

Knights of honor

Kaneland National Honor Society inductee Anna Novotny gives a speech during the Knights of Honor ceremony on Monday evening at the KHS auditorium. 56 students were inducted into the NHS. Photo by John DiDonna

National Honor Society inductees applaud for their fellow students during the "Knights of Honor" induction ceremony on Monday evening. Each member gave a short speech after being introduced by one of their friends. 56 students were inducted into the National Honor Society this year. Photo by John DiDonna

Kops and Kids

Chief Mike Acosta of the Maple Park Police Department greets the kids who have gathered to watch Bambi at the Maple Park Civic Center on Tuesday. It is part of the department’s “Kops and Kids at the Movies” program which shows free films to local youths during spring break and other times they are not in school. Free popcorn and juice is also provided. Photo by John DiDonna

‘My Life with James Bond’

Raymond Benson, the fourth official James Bond novelist, presented a lecture, “My Life with James Bond,” on Tuesday evening in the Academic and Professional Center at Waubonsee Community College. Benson was chosen by Ian Fleming Publications in 1995 to write new Bond novels. His first effort was published in 1997, and was followed by five full-length original novels and three film novelizations, including “The World is Not Enough” and “Die Another Day.” Photo by John DiDonna

Making ‘em laugh at McDole

First-grader Cameron Neis (below, left) tells jokes during the dress rehearsal of the School Talent Show at Kaneland McDole Elementary School. The rehearsal took place on Saturday. The show will be held on Friday in the main gym. Directed by Melissa Becker, it will include about 40 acts.

Above right, the first through fifth grade talent waits to get on stage during the dress rehearsal. Fourth-grader Brendan Neis (right) sings “Me And My Shadow.” It is the third year for the talent show, and proceeds will be donated to the McDole Reading Lounge (through the student council). The lounge is a place where kids can come before and after school and read in a comfortable environment.
Photos by John DiDonna

‘Knights of Destiny’

Student Conductor Aaron Steenwyk leads the the 8th Grade Concert Band to the tune of “Overture Galactica” during the Kaneland Harter Middle School Band concert on Tuesday, March 8.

The Kaneland Harter Middle School Bands held a concert on Tuesday evening. Here the 7th-grade, 9th Hour Symphonic Band plays Knights of Destiny.
Photos by John DiDonna

And they’re off

5th-grade teacher David Argabright trains with members of the Runners Club at John Stewart
Elementary school on Tuesday. The runners are training for the 7th Annual Dewey Dash on Sunday, April 10. The runners club meets every Tuesday and Thursday and is instructed by Mrs. Lynn Ogden.

4th-grader Gunner Bergmann (left) is way ahead of the pack during the Runners Club practice.

Photos by John DiDonna

Food is Fun!

Pastry Chef Rose Deneen of Food is Fun! has been creating pastries for over 20 years. On Saturday, she came to the Sugar Grove Public Library to demonstrate the preparation of chocolate treats for Valentine’s Day. Here she puts a glaze on heart shaped chocolate cakes. Food is Fun! is an interactive and demonstrative food program that travels to locations throughout northern Illinois. Photo by John DiDonna

Some local ‘Folk’

The Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival presented Lee Murdock’s Annual Hometown Concert at the KHS auditorium on Saturday. Lee Murdock (left) sang several songs and introduced special guest, southern Indiana farmer-song writer-actor Tim Grimm was the special guest at Lee Murdock’s Annual Hometown Concert on Saturday at the Kaneland High School auditorium. The concert was presented by the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival. Photos by John DiDonna

Wizards on the court

David “DP” Paul (left) and Eric “Broadway” Jones of the Harlem Wizards basketball team show some fancy moves to fifth-grader Clayton Slamans and the rest of the students at Kaneland John Shields Elementary School. The players put on a special show on Nov. 11. Since 1962, the Harlem Wizards have played more than 6,000 games in both the United States and abroad, thrilling millions of fans along the way. Photo by John DiDonna

A soldier’s story

Kevin Lamb shows pictures of Afghanistan during the program. Lamb served in the 2nd and 4th Infantry divisions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The program, called ‘A Soldier’s Story’ included a dinner, the slide show, a question and answer period and an award presentation.

Mike Titre (above, left) of God Bless the Troops stands with veteran Kevin Lamb and his father, Dave. They are showing the award presented to Kevin. It is a print called “The Defender,” which represents the fallen
soldier. Kevin is an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran who won two commendations of valor. The local award was presented on Oct. 27 at the Elburn Lions Club.

Photos by John DiDonna

Photo gallery: Fine Arts Fest: Take 1

Brandon Fox is Kaneland Blackberry Creek Elementary School’s Music Specialist and member of the Cor Cantiamo Choral Ensemble.

Dr. Eric Johnson directs the ensemble, which kicked off the Kaneland Fine Arts Festival at Kaneland High School on Oct. 9. The ensemble was founded in the Spring of 2009 by Dr. Johnson and has received accolades for their performances.

Photos by John DiDonna