July 4 revelers check out local festivals

July 4, 2011 5:23:50 PM PDT
Chicago area residents are celebrating the birth of our nation by attending local festivals Monday.

Every year, the American and Asian Association hosts a festival in the heart of Chinatown on the Fourth of July. People come from as far as Texas to attend the 2011 Chinatown Festival.

"The shopping and the prices are great. There's so much to choose from," said Stephanie Vilaros.

The festival gives Chicagoans an opportunity to learn more about the Chinese community. "Every year, we have functions to promote the Chinese community," said festival organizer and founder Michael Hon.

Washington Park is the site of the 19th annual African Caribbean International Festival of Life, which is a complete family festival of music, arts, crafts, jewelry, clothes and traditional food that represent the Caribbean and Africa.

The Chicago History Museum also held an Independence Day celebration for the whole family. There was patriotic music, speakers and fun events for the kids. There was even an appearance by what organizers say was the world's tallest "Uncle Sam."

Congressman Mike Quigley served as one of the event's guest speakers.

"If we are to achieve that most perfect union envisioned by our founders, we must have the courage to do what is right, fair, and just. Just like it's hard to imagine people once thought it was OK to discriminate against others because of skin color, someday we'll look back at our current struggles and wonder why it was so difficult," Quigley said.

Fittingly, in celebration of the nation's birthday, there was also a reading of the Declaration of Independence.

In Chicago's northern suburbs, Arlington Heights sponsors the Frontier Days Festival in Recreation Park. One grandmother is dressed for Independence Day, and is ready to have fun with her two grandsons.

"It is the Fourth -- you go to the parade and have fun. I truly believe in our independence and so do the boys," said Gina Kenney.

"It is a beautiful day. What a great way to spend the Fourth with your family in Arlington Heights," said Arlington Heights resident Lynn Pangle.

There is something for everyone in the park, from carnival games to food and entertainment.

"We are going to spend the rest of the day here," said Gino Pignataro, who was with daughter 4-year-old Sofia, both of Arlington Heights.

"Our events are free and we're just trying to present a good face for the community," said festival spokesperson Ann Gorman.

Young Boy Scout volunteers keep the park clean and tidy.

"We go around and pick up trash and make sure garbage cans are not overfilled this is fun no better way to spend it than being at this carnival," Matthew Anderson.

Naperville's Ribfest has grown every year. People travel far just to taste ribs from world class ribbers across the nation.

The festival features live music, carnival games, rides, arts and crafts, and they claim the best ribs you will taste. The annual event sponsored by the Naperville Exchange Club raises money for local charities to fight child abuse and domestic violence.

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