Highland Park, Community

Highland Park’s Fourth of July plans include parade and 4th Fest, no fireworks

Highland Park is parsing down its Fourth of July festivities in 2024, holding “beloved” events during the daytime while leaving the evening open, according to a release from the City on Tuesday, April 17.

Changes were expected in the second year following the mass shooting in 2022. The City marked one year after the shooting by replacing the parade with a remembrance ceremony and community walk and the fireworks with a drone show. This July 4 a remembrance ceremony will remain and a parade with return, but no fireworks or drone show will occur, according to the release.

In the release, the City said the event lineup — which will also include an afternoon, family-friendly 4th Fest from the Park District of Highland Park — “is intended to balance the diverse needs within the community by providing space for remembrance as well as familiar traditions.”

“Independence Day has traditionally been a special opportunity for our community to come together with beloved traditions,” Mayor Nancy Rotering said in the release. “As we continue our journey as one Highland Park, we do so with respect, compassion, and support for all whose lives were forever changed on July 4, 2022, while maintaining the community spirit that has always been a hallmark of Highland Park’s Independence Day events.”

Quincy Worthington, of Highland Park Presbyterian Church, speaks during the remembrance ceremony in 2023.

An indoor remembrance ceremony will begin the Fourth of July events at 10 a.m. While the event is open to the public, advance registration will be required, according to the City, and the location is yet to be determined.

The parade will step off at 1 p.m., later than its traditional time, and continue along a new route with a theme of “Sweet Home Highland Park.” The route is also not yet determined but will be in downtown Highland Park.

According to City officials, in a frequently asked questions page, feedback from residents, staff members and councilmembers led to the consideration of a new route.

“The new route will still keep the parade in Downtown Highland Park, ensuring that traditional support for local businesses open on July 4 and the community tradition of gathering in Sunset Woods Park continue. Additionally, an alternate route may expand accessibility of the event to individuals who would otherwise not participate if the route remained the same,” according to the City.

Advanced registration is also required for the parade, and the City — “to emphasize Highland Park’s spirit of community” — is encouraging participants to join with fellow residents for neighborhood floats and walking groups and spotlight something they enjoy about the community. Children and pets are also encouraged to get in on the fun.

Entries will be judged and awarded in best in show in three categories: neighborhood, community groups and businesses.

The park district’s 4th Fest will run from 1:30-4:30 p.m. at Sunset Woods Park, 1801 Sunset Road, which will be walkable from the parade route, officials said.

The afternoon celebration will include rides, games, a petting zoo, food trucks and live entertainment, led by the band Radio Gaga.

In planning events after the shooting in 2022, Highland Park officials have benefitted from guidance from mental health professionals and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Victims of Crime. The City says the parade and 4th Fest were identified by community members as “beloved community traditions.”

Throughout the day, the Highland Park shooting temporary memorial in the rose garden next to City Hall will remain open; however, the City warns that visitors who are concerned about patriotic decor or parade-related visuals should avoid the area between 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

According to the City, community members who need support in considering whether to participate in the Fourth of July events can contact Highland Park’s Resiliency Manager at mkati@cityhpil.com or (847) 926-1036.

“While our community was forever changed by the events on July 4, 2022, this Independence Day, we can start a new chapter by coming together in love and kindness for one another,” said Terry Grossberg, president of the Park District of Highland Park Board, in the release. “Celebrating this national holiday with our loved ones is crucial to our community’s identity. Let’s come together, share this special moment with our neighbors and friends, and create cherished memories.”

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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