Official event programs and posters are printed. Parade participants began placing their chairs and blankets along Central Street on Friday morning. Sack races, egg-throwing and fancy-dress politicians are days away.
However, the city’s first live Fourth of July celebration in three years was not a certainty, said Hillary Bean, director of the parade and vice president of the Evanston Fourth of July Association, the nonprofit, volunteer group that works during throughout the year to set up the event.
The Association had hoped to go live in 2021, but in March of that year, with COVID-19 surfacing again, “things were really risky,” she said in an interview last week.
“By April and May things were starting to open up, but it was too late for us to start anything,” she said. “And this year, things are still, you know, in and out, risky. So we’ve had a bit of a slow start to this year as well. But we are live from 9 am on Monday [July 4].”
Important facts for this year
Here are some other quick things to know about the 4th of July festivities as award-winning events return to live form.
This year’s theme is “Celebrating 100 Years,” which recognizes the Association’s founding in 1922, when parents came together to provide a safe celebration after a child was injured while playing with fireworks.
Bruce Baumberger, Paul Wilson and Sam Sibley, long involved with the organization, are this year’s Grand Marshals, said Bean, who is also the program’s book editor.
Baumberger began his more than 50-year tenure at the Evanston Fourth of July Association as Twilight Show Ticket Assistant, President, “when a twilight show and fireworks took place at Dyche Stadium (now Ryan Field)”, according to with a small biographical sketch. in the celebration program.
As a new administrator in 1979, Baumberger spearheaded the move to offer the Association’s fireworks show and concert for free by the lake.
Wilson has also held a variety of positions, including Celebration Manager, Administrator and Master of Ceremonies at the Lakefront Concert.
Sibley started with the parade when he was scoutmaster for the Evanston 26 Boy Scouts, he recalled in an interview on the show.
“For the Bicentennial, the Boy Scouts wanted to be in the Evanston parade on the 4th of July,” he recalled. “All the scouts paraded in the parade in full uniform. They loved it. For the next three years, I brought all the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts from Evanston to the parade.”
This year’s event also pays tribute to David J. Sniader, an emeritus trustee of the Association who passed away last year. “Nothing has made Dave happier than working with his friends, the many volunteers at the Evanston Fourth of July Association,” the program’s note read. “Together, they spent many months preparing for an incredible and multifaceted day of celebration, including a parade and fireworks accompanied by synchronized music.”
The parade starts at 2pm on Central Street and Central Park Avenue, and heads east to Ashland Avenue (at Northwestern University Football Stadium).
The show lists 78 entries, with the Evanston Youth Hockey Association, Sparky and Uncle Sam among the first. The Backlot Neighborhood Association, which built award-winning floats on rectangular land hidden behind houses in its northwest neighborhood, is number 23.
Some groups have fallen by the wayside since the COVID-19 pandemic. But the crowd-pleasing Jesse White Tumbling Team is back in 61st place, Bean confirmed.
“They are in every year. They love our parade and they are fabulous performers. The kids love it.”
Once again, the Palatine Concert Band will perform in concert, starting at 7:30 pm, at Dawes Park on Arrington Lagoon. The Association’s award-winning fireworks display will begin shortly after the final number of the concert, at 9:30 pm.
The city refrains from counting the crowd, which begins to gather at the edge of the lake from noon onwards. “But it’s shoulder to shoulder out there,” Bean said.
The Association bears the cost of fireworks, as well as other activities, with the city contributing police and firefighters, as well as Parks and Recreation, Streets and Sanitation, Public Works and other services.
“I used to say fireworks cost $1,000 a minute,” Bean said. “But with the supply chain and all, fireworks are costing us a lot more this year, it’s over $2,000 a minute.”
The Fourth of July Association, which celebrates its 100th anniversary of organizing events, depends on public support. Anyone wishing to contribute can visit www.evanston4th.org. The event schedule is available at the parade’s Info Booth in Central and Central Park; at the judges’ booth at Ackerman Park and at the review booth at the end of the parade.