Volunteers, donors help Evanston Fourth of July parade march on

Matthew Silverman

As Patrick Nacey changed into his Sparky the Firecracker costume, transforming into the mascot of the Evanston Fourth of July parade, he simultaneously made a pitch to passing celebration attendees.

“Text Sparky to 85944,” he said, while pulling a red felt firework suit over his head.

Each text results in a $10 donation to the Evanston Fourth of July Association, which runs the city’s Independence Day festivities.

The Evanston Fourth of July parade is privately financed by the city’s citizens, with the exception of the security for the celebration, which is donated by the local authorities.

“It is a time to be happy about being independent,” Nacey said.

Coincidentally, this statement also applies to the now 90-year fiscal independence of the Evanston Fourth of July Association.

Joan Ducayet, Evanston Fourth of July Association president, said the public’s dedication to preserving the city’s Independence Day celebration makes her proud to be an Evanston resident.

“Thousands of Evanstonians have put their energy and money into the parade,” Ducayet said. “It is important because in tough economic times, the city doesn’t have to decide whether to cut the parade or not.”

According to Ducayet, 20 volunteers work for the Fourth of July Association throughout the year, fundraising and collecting donations, and approximately 120 volunteers help run the parade on July 4.

Evanston resident Sylvia Alvino, one of those volunteers, has worked for the association for five years.

“It is very special.… It is an American tradition to have volunteers run (the parade),” Alvino said.

Alvino said she believes the parade wouldn’t have happened this year if it were run by the City of Evanston because of the recession.

“It would be a very low priority,” she said.

Evanston resident John Carlson referenced Waukegan’s cancellation of its July 4 fireworks as an example of the financial difficulties that come from having government run Independence Day festivities.

“I think it is important for Evanston because it is really a community thing,” Carlson said.

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