NORMAL - Laura McNeil feels at home in Windsor Crest subdivision in Normal. So does Bruce Auer. Neither can imagine why they'd ever leave.

Both love their neighbors and the fact that the small subdivision is close-knit and has a lot of activities.

The highlight of activities is the annual July 4 parade, which wraps around the neighborhood's three streets and is typically escorted by a police car or fire truck. Participants, both adults and children, dress up in red, white and blue.

The neighborhood is famous for the parade. "It's our biggest event," McNeil said.

It started about 15 years ago. If you're not in the parade - McNeil always is - then you "sit on the curb and wave flags" and children decorate their bikes and wagons.

The neighborhood also has monthly women's luncheons and block parties. The neighborhood has about 50 homes.

McNeil and her family have lived there for just over 15 years. Their street, Hanson Drive, is the biggest, with 22 houses. Windsor Drive has almost as many homes; Blair Drive has the fewest.

"Hanson runs east and west, Blair north and south and Windsor kind of connects, making it a triangle," she said. Auer suspects Windsor Crest takes its name from Windsor Drive.

The Shoppes at College Hills are within walking distance. So is Kroger and other stores along College Avenue. The nearby Dairy Queen was a summer destination for McNeil's bicycle-riding children.

"During the summertime we will take a walk and get ice cream or a small bag of groceries," Auer said.

Nature isn't far away, either. Sugar Creek is close, as are Anderson Park and pool. "We'd get summer pool passes," McNeil said.

In the fall, attention turns to a neighborhood haunted house.

"We had about 250 people go through last year," Auer said. There's no admission charge and kids from surrounding neighborhoods show up for the "house," located in his converted garage.

Auer moved to Windsor Crest about 10 years ago because his brother, Brian Auer, also lives there.

He likes that much is within walking distance. There's no neighborhood association, but Auer doesn't think one is needed because neighbors are "very close-knit."

"There's a directory to help people keeps tabs of each other," he said.

"We have very little turnover in houses," McNeil said. "It feels homey here."

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