Chicago area celebrates July 4th with parades, cookouts and firework shows

Friday, July 5, 2024
Chicago area celebrates July 4th with parades, cookouts, fireworks
From downtown Chicago to Hyde Park, Arlington Heights, Itasca, Tinley Park and beyond people celebrated Independence Day on Thursday, July 4th.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Across the city, from downtown to the neighborhoods, and throughout the suburbs, people celebrated Independence Day Thursday.

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The firework shows are just one highlight to the holiday that typically centers on family and fun. This year was no exception.

The grill got going at Tinley Park's Ribfest. Crowds at the south suburban Independence Day celebration took in the savory eats with live music and fun activities for all ages.

"I loved the music. I loved the energy," Mary Ilori said.

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"The entertainment and the food are so good, and I love all the people around," Peter Ilori said.

For Anthony Clas, this year's holiday was extra special. He recently retired after serving 20 years in the U.S. Army.

"This day is kind of a great time to have a positive reflection," Clas said. We have Veterans Day, we have Memorial Day... Independence day is our country's birthday, and we know rolling up the sleeves what it means to us contributing that legacy of service."

At least 12 people were treated for heat-related illness at the Tinley Park Ribfest, officials told ABC7. However, no one was taken to the hospital.

For fans of a glittering pyrotechnic light show, the western suburban village of Itasca will be the place to be Thursday night.

One of the largest Fourth of July fireworks shows in the state will light up the skies. It will be a colorful ending to the summer Independence Day festivities.

Hundreds of people lined 53rd Street Thursday to watch Hyde Park's unique July 4th parade.

The 32nd annual 53rd Street Parade in Hyde Park brought the diverse neighborhood together Thursday. It was founded by Nancy Stanek and Joan Steggemann to as a way to help businesses and began with just a few dozen people.

"We had maybe four instruments that we rented out from some place, so it was a little rag tag group marching down the street," Stanek recalled.

Cook County Board President marches every year dressed up as the Statue of Liberty, this year included.

"When we started this parade long ago and far away, the idea was everybody marches and nobody watches," she said.

The rule perhaps hasn't entirely held up. Hundreds of people lined 53rd Street Thursday to watch the parade, including Penelope Ellis who moved to Chicago two years ago.

"With all the different neighborhoods, and this was the neighborhood I picked last year, and it was the first time I experienced the energy that I love in a parade, so we came back for a second year," she said.

Ellis Sharp's parents said this is the first parade their 2-year-old daughter is old enough to kind of understand.

"This one she kind of gets a little bit; more, she gets candy, that's what she gets, and she gets to wave, she enjoys that," Tarra Sharp said.

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As tradition goes, all parade participants are local. Kenwood Academy has a huge presence.

"I like this parade because there is a band battle at the end of it and we get to whoop anybody who is at the end, King for example," said Caleb Morris who is in the marching band.

And always near the rear are the horses. Valerie O'Neill and her 27-year-old quarter horse Skip never skip the parade.

"It's very important that we come out and represent sometimes people don't think about black women as horsemen and cowgirls," she said.

While parades are fun, the meaning of the day is not lost on anyone here.

"It's time for us to pause and me grateful for freedoms that we have but also be resolved to keeps those freedoms," said Tara Sharp.

The festivities also didn't end with the parade; after the community went to a local park to continue the celebrations, including a battle of the bands contest.

From the Arlington Heights parade to the Winnemac Park Fourth of July festival, the suburbs were celebrating Thursday.

In Arlington Heights, the annual parade kicked off Thursday morning and the first ever Winnemac Park Fourth for All full-day family event was held.

"We're going to have magicians we're going to have face painters," said Manny Vega, president of the Winnemac Park Advisory Council.

Vega said in the past the park held four-hour fireworks show that overwhelmed the neighborhood.

"You go home, because you're tired of the fireworks so it's just late and they're still going on for so long," said resident Rob Residori. "It' snice to have some centralized activities."

The festival included disc golf, food vendors, yoga classes, a Full Moon jam performance, music and dancing, all for free.

"That has all been funded through our donations," Vega said.

Other Fourth of July celebrations highlighted how the American Dream looks different from culture to culture, via music, food, and dress.

DeShola Spencer showed off her custom-designed purses and accessories for the first time at the 31st African/Caribbean International Festival of Life. She started making them under TNY Creations just four months ago, and the business took off just in time for the Fourth of July.

"It is a part of the American dream. This is a great opportunity for me," she said.

In Wheaton, a display of American flags marked a more solemn way to honor the nation Thursday and pay respect to the sacrifices made by the armed forces.

Thousands of flags lined a field in Seven Gables Park as part of the Wheaton Field of Honor. Attendees observed the site to honor those who have served in the military.