Towns tighten rules for saving parade spots

July 1, 2008 4:23:30 PM PDT
July 1 is the day when many new laws take effect.It's also the day when many people begin putting their plans for the fourth of July into full swing. Among them is securing the best spot for parade viewing.

But some suburban communities are changing the rules on how to reserve your spot on the parade route.

Arlington Heights calls itself the City of Good Neighbors, but there was rather un-neighborly behavior going on in recent years over the Fourth of July. People were reserving their spots for the parade days in advance. Now, the city has put up signs trying to put a stop to that.

In Evanston, they have gone further.

The First of July brings a great American tradition for MaryBelle Feltenstein - time to stake out her family's spot on Central Avenue for Evanston's big Fourth of July parade.

"My mom has been coming for 70 years, my Aunt Jane for more than that. And it's a tradition, and so I want to secure good seats," she said.

Lawn chairs, blankets, tarps and more started lining Central Avenue beginning around 6 Tuesday morning. That's when it became legal under a city ordinance. Before this year, people were reserving spots as early as the middle of June. The director of the parks department says it used to be quite a mess, but now, if people put out items early, the city confiscates them.

"It's working well. First year, there were a lot of questions and a little bit of concerns. But since then, folks have been very good about it," said Doug Gaynor, Evanston park director.

Different suburb, same problem in Arlington Heights - people were roping off parkways along the parade route whether they lived there or not several days before the 4th. There were so many complaints that the village decided to do something. This year, Arlington Heights is trying the soft-handed approach, putting up these signs, asking people not to reserve space until 7 p.m. July 3. The mayor hopes the polite approach can prevent having to enact a new ordinance.

"I don't think we need to legislate good behavior. And we just hope that we don't have to bring down the heavy hand. I mean, that would be terrible and say you have to pick up your blankets," said Mayor Arlene Mulder.

The mayor says 40,000 people watch this parade there every year. She said it's the largest Fourth of July parade in Illinois - the largest and, she hopes, the most polite as well. People did seem to be paying attention to the signs, but it was early.


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