Evanston residents who planned to line Central Street for the 4th of July parade instead spent the day picking up their lawn chairs and their emotions
The Evanston parade was officially cancelled at 11:39 a.m., about an hour after a gunman opened fire at the Highland Park parade, killing six and wounding at least two dozen others.
Jerry Hlava, who lives on Central Street, took his picnic table and chairs back inside, while feeling incredibly sad.
“It’s a horrible tragedy,” Hlava said, of the Highland Park shooting.
“The first thing I thought was I hope they cancel the Evanston parade.”
David Komie was also going to watch the 78-entry parade from his lawn facing Central Street.
“We’re in terrible shape as a country,” Komie said, adding “we’re so hyper-militarized and awash in weapons. There’s a decay of truth and civic norms.”
Bruce and Karen Stern were visiting from Wisconsin, and were going to watch the parade with Evanston family members.
Karen Stern said there is no simple solution to mass shootings. More mental health services are necessary, she noted, and also called for tougher law enforcement.
“The criminals have more rights” than do law-abiding citizens, she said.
The deaths and injuries are, of course, the major aspect of this tragedy, and in the forefront of everybody’s minds.
But cancellation of the Evanston parade (along with the evening fireworks), after two years of COVID-mandated virtual events, was certainly a sad sidebar. This was going to be the 100th anniversary celebration for the Evanston Fourth of July Association.
Jamie Black, celebration manager for the association, drove a golf cart up and down what would have been the parade route, giving out souvenir programs to anyone who was picking up lawn chairs.
“I’m still trying to process it,” Black said.
Parades are great fun for kids. Seth and Sarah Dreier were going to bring their five-year old daughter. Instead, they had the difficult job of telling her why the parade was off.
“We told her there was a shooter in the town where her friends live,” so the parade had to be canceled, Sarah Dreier said.
The Dreiers felt it was better to tell their daughter the truth than to make something up, and at least her friends are OK.
The local parade route was going to be staffed by 25 State Department exchange students from Africa, who are in Evanston for a summer leadership institute.
Kai Mollel, from Tanzania, said she “was really looking forward” to her first Fourth of July.
“I was hoping to experience America,” Mollel added.
Unfortunately, she did.