Autumn Hlava packs up a folding chair after learning that the July 4, 2022 parade had been canceled. (Jeff Hirsh photo)

The non-profit group that runs Evanston’s 4th of July events says it needs a lot of green to keep honoring the red, white and blue.

In a flyer sent to Evaston residents, the Evanston 4th of July Association asks for donations to help make the 2023 parade a reality.

In the mailing, the associations president, Tracy Alden, notes that the 2022 mass shooting at the Highland Park parade forced last-minute cancellation of the Evanston activities.

However, Alden says, “All paid units in the [Evanston] parade and the fireworks vendor were paid to honor our contracts,” leaving the association financially in the red.

4th of July Association fundraising flyer.

The group is asking the community for contributions, for both the 2023 parade and related events, and also for “restoration of our endowment to provide sound financial footing for our next century of service to Evanston.”

But the problem is more than just money. The COVID-19 pandemic meant there were only virtual celebrations in 2020 and 2021, and, Alden notes, “the lack of a traditional celebration during the past three years has … decimated our volunteer team.”

So the group is asking for Evanstonians to sign up to help plan and work the parade, fireworks, sporting activities, and concerts.

Sparky, the 4th of July parade mascot.

“While it may seem the celebration occurs annually on auto pilot,” Alden says, “a well-managed group of volunteers is needed.”

The 2022 parade was going to represent the Association’s 100th anniversary.

The Jesse White Tumblers, a perennial favorite of parade spectators, perform in 2015.,

The 4th of July parade and related events are all put on by the Association without government financial assistance.

Before 1979, ticket sales to a fireworks show at the Northwestern football stadium covered the costs.

Since then, all the activities have been free, with the fireworks show moved to the lakefront, and with public donations picking up the tab.

“Your support,” the flyer states,” is more important than ever to ensure the future of this very special community event.”

More information,= is available on the association website.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Join the Conversation


  1. How can we donate electronically? GoFundMe? Zelle? Venmo? CashApp? This is America. We have to have a 4th of July parade.

    Reach out to Northwestern and see if they can help.

  2. I got the mailing as well. How much does it cost to send a flyer to all the addresses in Evanston?

    I do respect them for not running to the city council for money. One could make the argument that if we are spending money for groups like Shorefront that have only a fraction of the impact on the economy as the 4th celebration the city could give them assistance.

    How about canceling Bobby Burns’ outsourcing of his newsletter and providing the cash to the 4th celebration?

  3. Growing up in my home town (Summit , NJ), we had an added way of gathering donations. Would require some persons to man/woman, but I believe is worth an “experimental effort”.
    A number of “donation collection booths”, strategically located, available on the 4th, for participants to contribute. It might bring in some needed funds.

  4. Evanston has one of the best, most fun, and community oriented parades around. For number of years pror to 1990, our blue convertible participated with its 350 HP engine, 8 cylinders, Cutlass. All went well each time with various people riding on the back. Then the last summer, it was so hot, that the Cutlass complained and started belching black smoke from the slow pace. Fans were not pleased. We had to turn on the heater to draw air in to cool the engine….so the driver said.
    My only suggestion is, instead of the Palatine band playing each year prior to the fireworks, how about the ETHS band? Or ETHS Jazz Ensemble? Thanks so much 4th of July Association!

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