A vision for Highland Park’s 2023 Fourth of July is more clear after a City Council meeting Monday, April 24.
City Manager Ghida Neukirch provided an update on the ceremonies, which will mark one year since a mass shooting left seven dead and dozens wounded along the Highland Park Fourth of July parade route.
The City’s initial ideas for a drone show and community walk — first presented in February — highlight a full day of activities that also include a remembrance, community picnic and evening celebration.
“The events planned for July 4, 2023, will focus on our community,” Mayor Nancy Rotering said in a statement in February. “We know that the day will be filled with emotion as we mark the one-year remembrance of the Highland Park shooting. We have carefully planned events and activities that will allow our community the time and space to remember the seven individuals who were taken from us too soon, opportunities to gather and connect, and provide us with the chance to celebrate Independence Day together as we create new traditions and memories.”
According to the schedule presented by Neukirch, the remembrance will honor the victims of July 4, 2022, and begin at 10 a.m. at City Hall, 1707 St Johns Ave. The community walk will step off at 11 a.m. from City Hall and pick up participants as it heads down St. John’s Avenue and then Central Avenue.
It is the same route the traditional parade follows, but Neukirch said the purpose is participation instead of observation.
“(The community walk) is a reminder of our wonderful community tradition and symbolizes the reclaiming of our town and the parade route as we continue to build resiliency together,” she said. “… This is not intended to be an event where people will watch us. We’re really encouraging the community to participate.”
Neukirch said the City will provide trolley service for less-mobile residents.
Following the walk, the Park District of Highland Park will host a community picnic from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Sunset Woods Park that will feature live performances, food and family-friendly activities.
“The picnic is an opportunity for families, friends and neighbors to come together for a relaxing afternoon to enjoy each other’s company and our community, while also keeping the tradition of celebrating our country’s independence,” said Terry Grossberg, president of the Park Board.
The festivities restart at 6:30 p.m. at Wolters Field, 1080 Park Ave W, with music and entertainment leading up to a drone lights show, which replaces fireworks.
Drone shows have grown in popularity in recent years, whether taking over for fireworks or as a unique feature during special events. The Highland Park City Council in March approved a $50,000 contract with Hire UAV Pro to design and execute the show.
All events will be free admission; however, the remembrance, community walk and evening activities will require tickets, Neukirch said. Ticketing information, and other details, will be updated on the City’s website.
The Record is a nonprofit, nonpartisan community newsroom that relies on reader support to fuel its independent local journalism.
Subscribe to The Record to fund responsible news coverage for your community.
Already a subscriber? You can make a tax-deductible donation at any time.