CHICAGO (CBS) — Huge crowds turned out in West suburban Aurora for the “patriots and heroes”-themed festivities.

CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez talked to both about what it means to celebrate America’s birthday.

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Marching bands, big crowds, and a lot of flags as Aurora residents celebrated Independence Day.

“To just be with the family and celebrate Fourth of July with everyone,” Jessie Brauer said, explaining why Fourth of July is so important to her. “Downtown Aurora is amazing.”

Doug Kantola, a 21-year U.S. Army veteran agreed.

“It just makes you feel really proud that the community gets together on the Fourth of July with a common bond to celebrate something special,” he said.

Firefighters cooled off the crowd with their firehose as generations of parade-goers soaked up the fun.

“It’s the Fourth of July! You’ve got to come to the parade! It’s the tradition,” exclaimed parade-goer Nate Eimer.

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Juan Lopez says he had to bring his kids “so they can know what it’s like and feel the spirit of Americanism and just feel the energy that’s going on right here in our hometown.”

Amidst the marching bands and local heroes in the fire department, police department and the military, there was a hero of another type.

Jose Martinez was honored to be the Grand Marshal for the parade.

“I got to admit, it feels good. It was nice,” Martinez said.

Martinez was chosen after he saved a man from a burning car earlier this year.

“I really think it’s something anybody would do. I just happened to be at the right time at the right place,” he said.

His granddaughter, McKenna, attended the parade.

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“I was always proud of him,” she said. “He’s always been my hero.”