Celebrating the 2014 EAO Queen Colleen
Pictured is Colleen Sutherland celebrating being crowned Elmhurst Armpit Orchestra Queen in 2014. Sutherland, who loved Parade Day, lost her fight against cancer last October.

Cancer Center fundraising effort takes place through St. Pat’s Parade

For the 9th straight year the men of the “World Famous” Elmhurst Armpit Orchestra (aka “EAO”) will entertain those attending the Elmhurst St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The EAO, featured on WGN radio and a segment with ABC channel 7 TV’s Frank Mathie, is an annual Parade favorite. This year’s parade is scheduled to step off on Saturday, March 4 at 12 noon on Spring Road. The EAO plays familiar tunes on kazoos, bucket drums, vuvuzelas, cowbell, judicial handzoo, stumpf fiddle and other unconventional instruments.

Again this year, the group will feature the World’s Largest Drum, built as a tribute to its inspiration, actor and comedian Bill Murray. They are again hopeful Bill will attend the March 4th parade and lead them down Spring Road.

This year, the men of the EAO will be marching with heavy hearts, as 2014 EAO Queen Colleen Sutherland lost her battle with breast cancer in October. Queen Colleen and her husband Scott have graciously hosted a large pre-parade gathering for the members of the EAO and their families for the past eight years.

“Colleen epitomized the cheerful spirit of the Elmhurst St. Patrick’s Day Parade,” said EAO third-chair kazooist Bob Hedrick. “She so looked forward each year to entertaining the families of the EAO and especially enjoyed making the day fun for children. She would decorate the gathering tent in the spirit of the occasion and help provide food for the families. Colleen loved Parade Day.

“It is difficult to imagine this year’s parade without her, but her memory keeps us strong and we will march with her in our hearts.”

The EAO will honor Sutherland posthumously with its Distinguished Service Award at a ceremony the morning of March 4. Also, she will be bestowed the title, “EAO Queen Emeritus and Eternal Lady of the Royal Court.” Most importantly, her memory will be honored through a fundraising effort for the Elmhurst Memorial Hospital Infusion Center. The Center, located within the Nancy W. Knowles Cancer Center at the Hospital, provided professional, caring treatment to Colleen as part of her fight with the disease.

“We were so fortunate to have the amazing staff at Elmhurst Hospital’s Infusion Center providing care for both Colleen and our family,” said Colleen’s husband Scott. “They really encourage the family to be part of a patient’s wellness. We will be forever grateful to them.”

The Armpit Orchestra will raise funds for the Hospital’s Infusion Center by selling pink shamrocks to be attached to its treasured instrument, ‘Mary, The World’s Largest Drum’. Small shamrocks can be purchased for as little as $5, while larger shamrocks may be purchased for $20 or more. Purchasers can write their name or the name of an honoree on their shamrock. The shamrocks will adorn the drum as it traverses the parade route on March 4.

Shamrocks may be purchased in person from 10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. in front of the Ahlgrim Funeral Home (567 Spring Road) on March 4. Donations by check may be sent by mail to Elmhurst Memorial Hospital Foundation, 155 E. Brush Hill Road, Elmhurst, IL 60126, payable to the same. Mailed donations should indicate “EAO” or “Colleen” on the memo line or accompanying note. Those wishing to donate online may do so by visiting the Parade website referenced below and clicking on the “EAO Honor Colleen Donation” link (reference ‘EAO’ or ‘Colleen’ in the comments and the gift type is ‘Hope Lives Here Campaign’).

The 21st Annual Elmhurst St. Patrick’s Day Parade steps off at noon on Saturday, March 4, 2017 from Spring Road and Wilson Avenue in Elmhurst. For information about attending, sponsoring or entering the parade, please visit elmhurststpatsparade.com or call Parade Chair Jim O’Connor at 630-834-0300.


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