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Restoring the Circus Sounds Express wagon back to its glory with some extra help

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 9:27 PM CDT
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LOVES PARK, Ill. (WIFR) - For Meredith Dhuse, the time to spread cheer and smiles in this world is now. To do just that, she wants to bring back a Stateline tradition that dates back more than 45 years. That tradition is the Circus Sounds Express wagon.

Meredith grew up in a circus-of-sorts in the late 1970s and 1980s with her dad, Herb, also known as Herbie Hobo at the helm. She says, “It started out as just a little cart my dad used to drag us around the backyard with. He never said no to kids who wanted to ride, he loved us.”

As the ride grew in popularity, Herb made it bigger and took it on the road to countless parades and telethons across the Stateline and beyond. “He turned a double-wide snowmobile trailer into the circus wagon. I would say at least, probably 75 percent of the parades we were ever in, we would get first place in a category. If we didn’t fit into a category, they made one for us,” Meredith says.

Here is Herb Dhuse driving the Circus Sounds Express wagon.
Here is Herb Dhuse driving the Circus Sounds Express wagon.(Meredith Dhuse)

After more than a decade of bringing smiles to people’s faces, the circus wagon came to a halt when Herb passed away in 1990. Following that, the wagon sat crumbling inside a run-down garage. This is something Meredith says would have crushed her dad. “This was his and it died with him. But because of the legacy and obviously the love that the community has extended to us, I can’t not bring it back,” Meredith says.

Herb and Sandy Dhuse, Meredith's parents were at the helm of the circus wagon.
Herb and Sandy Dhuse, Meredith's parents were at the helm of the circus wagon.(Meredith Dhuse)

The restoration would be no easy task, too much for one person. Meredith needed some help and she found it, at a local AutoZone. “I went in one day and an employee named Jaime helped me. After helping me with my car he asked if there was anything else he could do. I said, jokingly that you can come to help me rescue this wagon out of the garage. Jaime asks when and I say it must be done tomorrow. Luckily he was off the next day and came to help,” Meredith says.

Jaime Olan is a mechanic and offered to transport the wagon from its ramshackle home to its current location in Loves Park. Meredith says she never got a chance to thank him. That’s where 23 News comes in and pulls off a surprise!

Jaime came to our interview and Meredith was absolutely surprised. She finally was able to thank him for going out of his way to help. He immediately installed several parts and hopes to get the wagon running again soon. He says the benefits of this experience are immeasurable.

Jaime says, “You know God is good when you help another person. The way she mentioned everything, I couldn’t say no. We could do this for her dad, we could do this for the kids that every day he has helped.”

With the help, Meredith wants to modernize the wagon and expand its charitable efforts beyond Herbie Hobo’s dedication to raising funds for muscular dystrophy. She says it would make her dad proud. Meredith says, “The wagon is all wooden. I would like to go more into the new age and get digital signs. There is not going to be a charity anywhere that is ever going to be excluded. I am going to make sure that this is running and this is beautiful so it lives up to my father’s legacy.”

Here is Herb Dhuse driving the Circus Sounds Express wagon.
Here is Herb Dhuse driving the Circus Sounds Express wagon.(Meredith Dhuse)

Meredith is in the process of moving back to the Stateline so she can dedicate more time to restoring the wagon back to its former glory. She started a GoFundMe to get this project going. You can donate here!

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