July 4th Association members look forward to another year for big centenary celebration

The organizers of Evanston Fourth of July were hoping to celebrate their 100th anniversary of festivities with this year’s event.

They are now going to have to move this theme forward once again with an in-person event docked for a second year due to COVID-19.

As for next year’s celebration, if it continues, “we haven’t come up with an official name,” said Tracy Alden, president of the Evanston Fourth that of July Association, in a telephone interview on June 22.

“” Celebrate a century “or” Centenaire-plus-un? ” »», He tried. “Maybe just ‘Centennial, the live celebration’ or something like that.”

Mr Alden, in his eighth year as chairman of the nonprofit group, can be excused for being a bit indefinite at this point.

Even when the group made the decision earlier in the year to cancel the 2021 live festivities – which include a parade deemed best on the North Shore – “we were thinking about what we should do,” said Mr. Alden.

“We asked other groups like the Palatine Concert Band, some of our main performers, ‘What are your plans? “Are you comfortable participating if we do this?” And they were at the same point as us: they were uncertain. They were unsure at this point if they would be willing to participate in an unfamiliar environment.

“So it wasn’t just us saying ‘No, we’re not going to do this,'” Alden said. “We were also getting groups that said ‘No, we’re not sure we can get our group together.'”

In a backlot float a few years ago, the Statue of Liberty carries a copy of the RoundTable. (File photo)

He said that after the group announced in March that it would cancel this year’s event, “there was some light at the end of the tunnel,” with figures showing the region was getting back on track. “We still didn’t think social distancing and related issues would be defined and allowed,” Mr. Alden said. “And so we just said we’ll just have to cancel. And then like in 2020, we worked on a virtual program.

The association’s website, evanston4th.org, includes videos from virtual parades, a “Limited Edition Podcast from Association Celebration Director Jamie Black”, “Celebrating A Century: The 4th of July in Evanston,” as well as a photo contest, inviting Readers to submit photos in five categories – Most Festive Family, Best Decorated Garden Chair, Most Patriotic Pet, Most Festive Dish. and the best decorated display case.

At a meeting in May, Mr. Alden said, the group decided to donate money to the Juneteenth and Pride groups for their parades, donating $ 1,000 to each group.

Some activists from conservative circles have taken up the decision again.

“Evanston, IL is having a Juneteenth parade and a Gay Pride parade,” one tweeted, “but July 4th is canceled this year. What’s the real agenda here?”

Mayor Daniel Biss provided part of the contextual response in a post on Facebook, noting that the events are organized by different groups of volunteers.

“The newer and smaller Juneteenth and Pride events were run faster so their organizers were able to decide if they needed to be in person much more recently when we had a lot more information. on public health, ”said Mayor Biss.

Mr Alden said some members of the Association have received a few negative calls and emails after the reports. “But they’re all anonymous. I don’t think anyone left their name or number or wanted an answer, ”he said. “People just want to let off steam.”

He pointed out that the Juneteenth and Pride events are considerably shorter and smaller than the 4th of July parade and other activities, “where we attract a lot of families and children, and it would be dangerous for them to congregate under. the current situation without proper vaccinations.

The July 4 parade alone lasts “about an hour and a half from when the first entry passes through Central Park to when the last passes through,” he said.

A July 4th celebration in Evanston dates back to July 4, 1921, when a group, the North Evanston Fourth of July Association, was formed after a child was injured during a fireworks display.

In 1980, the Association changed its name to Evanston Fourth of July Association, “expanding its scope to include all of Evanston, the group says on its website.

Unlike most Independence Day celebrations in other cities, the all-volunteer, community-funded group bears most of the costs of the festivities, which include sporting activities, a parade, a concert. twilight orchestra and fireworks.

With the in-person events not taking place for the past two years, “we are pretty much financially in the same place we have been. … We were not injured, ”said Mr. Alden. “This is why we wanted to support the other two [Juneteenth and Pride] parades.

Ida M. Morgan