Honored citizen

Allen selected 2019 Carbon Hill grand marshal

Photo by Michele Micetich
LONGTIME COMMUNITY volunteer Jacque Allen has been selected by the village of Carbon Hill as grand marshal of the 70th annual Homecoming. Her service to the community will be celebrated this week beginning with a presentation by the village board at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 19. The presentation will serve as the kick-off to the town’s 70th annual Homecoming. She will then participate in Sunday’s parade and be the guest of honor at a program presented by the Carbon Hill Historical Society at the Carbon Hill School Museum.


Jacque Allen buzzing past on her scooter is a common site for those who participate in the Carbon Hill Homecoming parade. But she will likely be less visible in the staging area this year as she takes on a different role—parade grand marshal.
Allen has never missed a Homecoming and this year’s community celebration will be extra special for the long-time volunteer who was selected to be honored by town leaders.
Each year a resident is selected to serve as the festival grand marshal, an honor bestowed on an individual who has given of themselves for the betterment of the village.
Allen grew up in her dad’s hometown of Custer Park, but her roots were in Carbon Hill where her mother grew up and attended school.
Her early memories of the village centered around family gatherings and the annual Homecoming celebration.
Each year her family would come to town for the festival and she recalls arriving early to her aunt Elsie Skubic’s house on the Sunday of homecoming with a change of clothes in hand, because the day was joyfully long from parade right through to the fireworks.
Jacque attended Custer Park Grade School where her mother worked as a secretary, and in 1973 she graduated from Reed-Custer High School.
On June 10, 1978, Jacque married Dave Allen. The two first meet when she was working at the Polk-A-Dot in Braidwood.
Their first home was out in the country near Mazon. As a surprise to the newlyweds, family members fixed up the tiny home while they were honeymooning in the Bahamas.
Not long after the landlord decided to increase the rent—twice. By December they were renting a home in Carbon Hill and when it went on the market a few months later the search was on for a new place. But in Jacque’s words, “why look elsewhere, we love this house.”
They made an offer and ended up living there until 1995 when their family of five outgrew the space and they found a new home in the village.
From the moment the couple moved to Carbon Hill, they were involved in the community.
She got involved in the Carbon Hill Woman’s Club and helped out with Homecoming activities, as it was mandatory back in those days.
The bingo stand was her station for two years and the mayor asked her to take on the duties of parade chairman. She recruited her sister-in-law Laurie Allen, cousin Kathy Vinyard, friend Jolene Franciskovich and a few others to help her out. The group changed over the years, but it was a post she held for years, and still today she makes sure everyone is lined up perfectly.
Over the years, Allen has taken on numerous volunteer tasks for the festival like overseeing the food stand.
“Most of the volunteering during Homecoming is about the fun of working together,” Allen said.
In addition to her work with the summer festival, Allen assisted with the village’s centennial celebration back in 1992, serving as chair of the fashion show and tea.
The event featured the vintage clothing collection that belonged to the late Virginia Kimblle, of Wilmington. At the time, Allen modeled clothing for Kimble and suggested it be a part of the centennial event.
The show was held in Braidwood and featured a number of community members. Photos from the event will be on display at the Carbon Hill School Museum during this year’s Homecoming open house on June 23.
Not only has Allen volunteered for the village, she’s an employee charged with handling the water billing,
In addition to that position, Allen works for the village of Coal City and serves as its deputy clerk.
If her volunteer and work duties didn’t keep her busy enough, she was involved in a host of activities her children participate in.
The Allen’s raised three children—Josh, Jill and Kevin. Family has always been her most important treasure.
The couple’s first born, Josh, died in a hunting accident in 1998.
Daughter Jill is a second grade teacher at Coal City Elementary School. She is married to Ron Vironda and they have blessed Jacque and Dave with three grandchildren—Olivia, Andrew and Ryan.
Kevin is the youngest of the Allen kids. He currently lives in Chicago where he works for the Federal Savings Bank. His mom reports he’s an exceptionally talented cook, participating in serious barbecue competitions.
Allen reports she eats well when Kevin is home, which is frequent, because Carbon Hill is home.
Like his mom, Kevin can be spotted traveling up and down McArdle Road on parade day, giving golf cart rides to participants making their way to their spot in the line up.
Allen is still doing her part to support the community she calls home, but said the time is coming to pass the torch.
As she recalls each of the town’s mayors have said, “ Older women aren’t always gonna be around. You younger ones have to learn how to do this and take your turn.”
When Allen’s time came to take on that service it was from the women of Carbon Hill who were looked up to as role models, citizens like Helen Dryer, Louise Jensen and Dorothee Tjelle. Women who welcomed in younger generations to take the lead.
Time has slipped by so fast and Allen and her friends are now the ones saying, “It’s your turn.”
Allen hopes the younger women in the community understand the importance of community service, and how work done in friendship as well as duty is actually play. That these women and all citizens of the village understand the role they play in the future of their community.
Allen’s years of dedicated service to the village will be celebrated this week beginning with a presentation by Mayor Rich Jurzak and the village board at 6 p.m. this evening (Wednesday, June 19).
The presentation will take place at the park entrance and serve as the kick-off to the town’s 70th annual Homecoming.
Allen will then participate in Sunday’s parade that steps off at 1 p.m. from McArdle Road and Seventh Street, and will be followed by a celebration at the Carbon Hill School Museum at 3:30 p.m.
Editor’s Note: Michele Micetich, curator of the Carbon Hill School Museum, provided the information for this report.