On Memorial Day 1996, a group of antique police car owners caravanned out from the Chicagoland area to Genoa, IL to participate in an event that was called the Police Unity Day Parade. After participating again in 1997, someone came up with the idea that a local show should be created for antique police cars. So in 1998, Chicago Police Sgt. Greg Reynolds, an avid police car restorer and photo historian, planned the very first Chicagoland Emergency Vehicle Show. It was a modest gathering of antique and restored police cars, a Harley-Davidson Servi-Car, and a fire engine on a basketball court next to the summer festival in Harwood Heights. In 1999 the show expanded by moving to the parking lot of the Rosemont Horizon. An emergency vehicle obstacle course was added, a big hit with police car owners. In 2000 and 2001 the show was staged at the Rosemont Theater.
In 2002, Dave Weaver, a television news cameraman and emergency vehicle collector, got involved in order to help Greg find a new show location. While surveying show sites near Dave's hometown of Aurora, they stopped for ice cream at the Oberweis Dairy in North Aurora. Before the break was over, they were offered the use of the Oberweis property and introduced to their corporate neighbors, Aurora Pump. The 5th Annual CEVS was born! With the assistance of the North Aurora Police Department, a Friday night Lights and Sirens Parade and Emergency Vehicle Cruise Night were added. After the success of the 2002 show, which doubled in size to 150 emergency vehicles, Greg handed the show's reigns over to Dave and he became the show's organizer.
From 2002 to 2014, the Village of North Aurora incorporated the Chicagoland Emergency Vehicle Show as part of the North Aurora Days Festival. The Friday night Lights and Sirens Parade became the kick-off to their weekend event which is still does to this year. The North Aurora Fire Department, Lifestar medevac helicopter, Aurora Fire Department, and Kane County Office of Emergency Management provided the backbone for many incredible demonstrations - elaborate extrication crashes, structure fire and haz-mat responses, and live propane fire training. Other agencies and companies such as IDOT, Lin-Mar Towing, and O'Hare Towing helped to donate, haul in, manipulate, and haul away demonstration vehicles and structures. The Kane County SWAT team (for 12 years!) and Kendall County SRT team became involved and amazed the crowd with high-risk entry simulations. The 2009 through 2011 shows were staged on the grounds of Mooseheart before returning the the Oberweis Dairy/Aurora Pump-Pentair property from 2012 through 2014. We added a Sunday event which included caravans to the Lake in the Hills Police National Night Out Parade and Car Show and to the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL.
2015 CEVS Fox River Pumping
In 2015, the Chicagoland Emergency Vehicle Show moved to Aurora and was hosted by the Aurora Regional Fire Museum. The Aurora Fire Department, Aurora Police Department, Air Methods Lifestar, and Maurer Services provided fantastic demonstrations including an extrication crash with medevac, K-9 exercise, and a Special Response Team forced entry into an office trailer with their Lenco "Bearcat" armored vehicle. The Aurora location enabled fire apparatus to draft out of the Fox River which was beautiful sight to see. The Lights and Sirens Procession was expanded to a thirteen mile long route, encompassing the communities of of North Aurora, Aurora, and Montgomery. The Aurora Emergency Management Agency assisted with traffic control for the procession. Coupled with their annual supply of power, 2015 marked the Aurora EMA's thirteenth year of participation in the CEVS, tops of any agency. We also formed a new relationship with the city of Naperville for a caravan to a static display in downtown Naperville on Sunday.
Antique CPD Squad
2018 brings us to the 21st Annual Chicagoland Emergency Vehicle Show and an exciting brand new location in historic downtown Oswego! While considering involvement as a host agency, Oswego Fire Chief Mike Veseling remarked that as a child he attended the Chicago Fire Department Thrill Show, an annual event held at Soldier Field that allowed the public to see police vehicles, fire apparatus and rescue demonstrations. The experience inspired him to seek a vocation in the fire service. The spirit of the Thrill Show and love for emergency vehicles is what drives the CEVS's organizers and volunteers to continue production of the show and we're all looking forward to this exciting new year. Thank you to every agency and collector for your generous sharing of time and resources.
- Dave Weaver, Organizer, Chicagoland Emergency Vehicle Show