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If the grand marshals of this summer’s Big Top Parade had their way, they’d lead the procession straight into the golden age of rock ’n’ roll.

In July, the Illusive Sounds, a longtime local band, will headline Baraboo’s annual circus parade. The band’s throwback style matches this year’s theme, “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” chosen in honor of Circus World’s creation in the 1950s.

“It seemed like a natural fit to jump on the bandwagon and embrace the decade in which it all started,” said Bobbie Boettcher, executive director of the Baraboo Area Chamber of Commerce. “After all, when you hear an eight-horse team pulling a 2-ton circus wagon down the street, everything is shaking, rattling and rolling.”

The Illusive Sounds formed 51 years ago and still features some original members. It plays a variety of music, but ’50s and ’60s rock tunes are its bread and butter.

“We are so excited to recognize and honor the Illusive Sounds as this year’s grand marshals. Their dedication to bringing music to our community is monumental,” said Nanci Caflisch, co-chair of the committee planning the event.

Bob Madland formed the group in the late 1960s, and a few years later it released its first album. The Illusive Sounds earned renown playing Wisconsin Dells venues each summer. After a hiatus, the group reunited in the early 2000s and became part of downtown Baraboo’s Concerts on the Square lineup.

Madland said he was floored when the planning committee asked the band to lead the July 21 parade. “I sat down and said, ‘You are kidding me,’” he said.

“What an honor,” said drummer Don Harms.

The parade will be the main event in Baraboo’s sixth annual circus celebration. In tribute to the famed Ringling brothers forming their circus here in 1884 — and tireless boosters turning their winter quarters into the Circus World historic site decades later — downtown Baraboo will host concerts, children’s activities and carnival games. In past years, the parade and festival have drawn as many as 30,000 spectators who spend an estimated $2.5 million in the community. Events are organized by a planning committee created by the Chamber of Commerce and supported by Circus World.

The Illusive Sounds will lead a parade featuring more than 75 traditional circus entries, including historic wagons and performing clowns.

“Being able to join our community’s unique circus heritage and iconic musical group which carry the same goal of bringing joy to others is certainly something to celebrate,” Caflisch said.

The band’s newer members said being named grand marshals is a great honor for the Illusive Sounds’ originators. “This is a wonderful cap to their career,” Andy Johnson said.

“Baraboo is a city of opportunity,” said saxophonist Dennis Schulte. “This proves it.”

Follow Ben Bromley on Twitter @ben_bromley

Baraboo News Republic Senior Reporter