Parade pros set up camp early at Fourth of July parade


Danielle Spitz/The Daily Northwestern

Carolyn Golmon, 74, guards her spot to watch the Evanston Fourth of July Parade. She and other attendees pick their spots, sometimes days in advance, and reserve them using chairs and blankets.

Danielle Spitz, Reporter

Carolyn Golmon’s Fourth of July festivities started at 5:30 a.m. on July 1, four days before the actual holiday.

Golmon has spent the last 45 years attempting to find the perfect spot to watch the annual Evanston Fourth of July parade and didn’t want to risk losing her place to one of her neighbors.

While the 74-year-old said she was not allowed to lay down her belongings until 6 a.m. Saturday, nothing stopped her from standing at her desired spot for 30 minutes and preventing others from stealing it. She then marked her territory with caution tape, four blankets and five lawn chairs.

She said her husband researched the optimal spot for watching the parade and decided where they would sit.  

“He would actually lay out plans and measure shadows because after coming the first year, we realized we were in a bad place,” Golmon said. “For us now, it’s a matter of family and being able to be together for the whole day.”

Golmon reserved the spot for 15 people, including her daughter, grandchildren and her best friend’s family.

Betsy Scherrer, who lives close to the parade route, picked out two spots on Tuesday morning — one for her, and one for her husband. She said after someone stole her chairs 15 years ago, she makes sure to keep her eye on both spots until the parade starts.

“Nobody had ever heard of that happening before and it hasn’t happened since,” Scherrer said. “Somebody must have tipped them off about our spot.”

She saved her husband’s seat while he finished barbecuing and passed time by reading a collection of short stories on her e-reader.

Scherrer said she rode on the Woman’s Club of Evanston’s float two years ago — performing a clapping routine on a flatbed trailer — but was excited to be able to watch from the side and relax this year.

Lissa Raedle Roberts, 61, has attended the parade for 60 years but never walked in it herself. She said her mother, Sally, is the unofficial “matriarch” of the festivities.

“She’s more of a figurehead now,” Roberts said. “My father used to be the patriarch and now she’s taken over.”

When her father passed away two years ago, Roberts’ mother assumed the job of giving the parade participants the starting signal at the beginning of the route.

“For my family this is the biggest holiday,” Roberts said. “This is bigger than any other holiday.”

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