For the past 10 years, people in the parade have thrown out candy to children. Now kids are sure to bring their bags, their buckets, and then collect dozens of pieces of candy throughout the parade here.
"Since the troops went off to war in 2003, we collect the candy. They keep the chocolate and stuff that melts. All the hard candies we ship out to troops in Iraq to let them know we appreciate the job they are doing," said Brian Weinberg.
With tens of thousands of people attending every year, the Arlington Heights parade is so popular that people reserve their spots four days in advance. But this year village officials said people had to wait until 7:00 p.m. on Thursday to put out blankets and chairs.Politicians were on hand to celebrate with local residents.
"This is great because we celebrate the independence of our country. We're all Americans here today," said US Rep. Mark Kirk (IL), 10th District.
"Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. Independence Day as an immigrant to come here and to enjoy the fruits of America is absolutely the best," said Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica (R), 16th District.
In Evanston, Uncle Sam led the parade, a decades-old tradition. Neighbors from Evanston and Wilmette are proud of the strong turnout every year.
"The music, the Jesse White Tumblers, always a lot of fun. The spirit," said Valerie Kretchmer.
"How many parades last two hours like this? It really is a lot of fun," said Keith Kretchmer.
Organizers of the parades in Arlington Heights and Evanston say record numbers came out to celebrate the holiday this year.