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Chicago ‘burb nixes Fourth of July parade due to COVID concerns, allows Juneteenth, LGBTQ parades

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A Chicago suburb has canceled its annual July 4 parade over concerns stemming from the fading COVID-19 pandemic, but held one on Saturday commemorating Juneteenth and plans another next Saturday to celebrate LGBTQ individuals.

“Based on concern for public health due to the unpredictability of the pandemic’s impact, vaccination rates, and in cooperation with our local authorities, the Trustees of the Evanston Fourth of July Association voted to cancel the Fun Run, Parade, Palatine Concert Band performance and Lakefront Fireworks show on July 4, 2021,” the organization noted in March. “However, we are committed and already working toward an Independence Day celebration that will be safe, creative and build community.”

“Monthly podcasts began in late 2019 titled ‘Celebrating a Century –The 4th of July in Evanston’ which will continue and can be heard on your personal devices,” the announcement continued. “If guidelines allow, the Association plans to conduct the traditional morning games and activities in the parks and schools. The 2020 Virtual 4th of July celebration with a parade, concert and fireworks is ready to be replayed.

“The Celebration Team is considering mini concerts, roving entertainment, neighborhood art and decoration projects to provide the community with a day to remember,” the announcement noted further.

So far, however, nothing has materialized.

The decision to shun the July 4 parade has caused a major backlash, with users taking to social media to express their concerns and outrage.

“My home town of Evanston, Illinois is having a Juneteenth Parade and a Gay Pride Parade, but is cancelling [sic] the 4th of July Parade & Fireworks,” noted Real Clear Politics co-founder and president Tom Bevan on Twitter.

“Celebrate Juneteenth AND the 4th of July. If the city won’t have a 4th of July parade, have one in protest,” one user added.

“I can’t believe this would be popular amongst people from Evanston or anywhere, why would they do this?” another user asked.

“Glad I left Evanston! Much happier in Arizona,” said another.

In a statement to Fox News, Evanston city officials defended the decision to quash the July 4 celebration, claiming that they were time-limited and forced to make a decision at the time based on the current situation.

“We made the decision in March based on the information that we had at that time,” Trustee and Celebration Manager Jamie Black said. “There are deadlines for permits and to secure the fireworks, as well as taking applications for the parade that happen early in the year.”

Continuing, Black said, “We erred on the side of caution. If things weren’t better, we would have been criticized for being a super spreader event.”

Nevertheless, the city partnered with a non-profit that promotes black history in the region, Evanston Present and Future, to hold the Juneteenth celebration on Saturday. Last year, community organizers wanted to stage a parade but instead held a Juneteeth event virtually due to the virus.

Also, the city is planning a “Pride” event next Saturday that will include a community picnic to celebrate LGBTQ people. Attendees are being asked to bring their own food, however, as an additional health and safety measure.

Last week, the city recorded no new cases of the novel coronavirus for the first time since the outbreak began. Also, according to Fox News, information put out by the city shows that almost 87 percent of residents who are 12 years old and older have been given at least a single does of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Earlier this year, Evanston made headlines by becoming the first U.S. city to establish a reparations program for blacks. The program will distribution $10 million over the next 10 years to qualified applicants.

Jon Dougherty

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