Joe Marino - "Mr. Fourth of July"
Joe Marino was born and raised in Rockford, IL. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II in the South Pacific on the Destroyer U.S.S. Henderson. After returning home Joe took an interest in organizing community events, which Rockford had been lacking at the time.
In 1963, at the request of Mayor Ben Schleicher, he created the Rockford 4th of July Committee. With community donations Joe purchased fireworks and provided Rockford with it's first downtown fireworks show. Today Rockford's July 4th events entertain hundreds of thousands of people each year.
In 1989 Joe organized the Holiday Festival of Lights, which enthralls carloads of stateline citizens with a one-mile loop thru Rockford's historic Sinnissippi Park, adorned with colorful lighted displays. The annually-changing displays are sponsored by local businesses and community groups.
Joe continues to be the Chairman of the Rockford 4th of July and Holiday Festival of Lights Committees to this day, which are non-profit entities, solely supported by private donations, not tax dollars.
Joe has received numerous recognitions and awards including...
The Key to the City of Rockford
Rockford Man of the Year Award
Mr. 4th of July Award
Rockford Park District Distinguished Service Award
Vice President George Bush Excellence Award
President Ronald Reagan Award
President's Service Award from Bill Clinton