Above / Howard Mogil and Vicki (Pickell) Mogil, Grand Marshals of 2017 Last Fling Parade, are also featured in this “Love Story – Naperville Steperette Style.” (Photo courtesy Paul De Kruiff)

By Laurie De Kruiff

Howard Mogil and Vicki (Pickell) Mogil

As the story goes, and a lot have heard it a few times, a young Howie Mogil spots Vicki Pickell from across the football field spinning Baton with the Marching Band while they are both attending Northwestern University some years ago.   In pursuit of Vicki, young Howie quickly learned to love the things she does and immersed himself into the world of Drum Corps, Marching Band, and Color Guard – AND IT WORKED.

They both graduated with PHDs, married, and started sharing their now mutual love and affection of the Color Guard activity for now 40 years.  Their love of the activity extends to all the children and families whom they have taught.

“With their guidance, our children are self-confident professionals,” said Naperville City Councilwoman Patty Gustin. “Courtney is now an attorney and Lindsey’s an Augustana graduate heading towards her teaching masters.  Naperville is about kids.  Kids need family. Howie and Vicky are and always will be Naperville’s most caring family members, for all of Naperville kids, and especially our kids.”

In step with history of the Naperville Municipal Band

Young baton twirlers are in step and tune with Naperville Municipal Band… (PN File Photo)

Vicki’s love for guard was fostered by her father, Jerry Pickell, who played saxophone in the Naperville Municipal Band. Then, as now, children of band members could learn baton twirling and march with the band in parades.

Vicki started marching in parades with the Naperville Municipal Bend when she was about 5. Her sister Katie (Pickell) Smith followed later. The woman who taught the twirlers was named Julie Earhardt; she was the director of the Steperettes, then sponsored by the Naperville YMCA.

When Julie Earhardt retired, Katie led the group until her sister took over the organization 1977.  Under her (and Howie’s) direction, the Steperettes Twirling Corps won state, national, and “grand national/world” championships, and were invited to tour Spain. The transition to color guard began in about 1987, and the focus of the group has been on color guard exclusively since 1989.

Today the Program is sponsored by the Naperville Park District.

Young Steperettes march with the band in the Memorial Day Parade, too!

I have known the Mogil’s for 15 years. The Steperette’s are so much more than a Park District Traveling Color Guard Program because of the leadership of Howie and Vicki Mogil. Through longterm support of the Naperville Park District, they help children and parents (in some cases) grow into fine individuals.

My husband Paul and I could not be more honored to have met Howie and Vicki. They have helped raise our three daughters, Veronica (now a Naperville Jaycee), Gabrielle, and Willow.

Howie and Vicki have impacted so many in Naperville, creating generations of confident and productive leaders.

Longtime member and past assistant coach Julie Dagenais said, “Steperettes taught me discipline, dedication, confidence and teamwork. And helped build lifelong friendships and connections with members, parents, family and staff. No matter the time that has passed or distance separating us, all Steperettes past and present will always be family.”

The Naperville Jaycees are honoring the Mogil’s (and the Steperette program) this year as the Labor Day Parade Grand Marshals, promoting their love for Naperville, Children, Families, and each other.

Happy 40th Naperville Steperettes! And congratulations, Howie and Vicki!


Laurie De Kruiff & Paul De Kruiff

Editor’s Note / Laurie De Kruiff and Paul De Kruiff are former members of the Naperville Jaycees, and now Jaycees Roosters, who have been longtime organizers of the Annual Jaycees Last Fling Labor Day Parade.

(PN File Photo 2010)

Be sure to give the Steperettes a big round of applause on Monday when the 90-minute parade meanders through downtown Naperville beginning at 10AM at Naperville North High School and ending along Porter near Naperville Central High School.

Also remember the Jaycees Rooster Bucket Shakers (click here for details) will be collecting cash and/or checks for the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army to benefit hurricane ravaged southeast Texas and the Gulf Coast. Naperville loves its parades. Cheers!

UPDATE, Sept. 4! Photo Gallery 2017 Jaycees Labor Day Parade