Evanston residents show patriotism through the screen for Fourth of July celebration


Daily file illustration by Grace Luxton

Evanston residents celebrated the Fourth of July through virtual activities including a concert and fireworks show.

Titobi Williams, Reporter

Evanston residents celebrated the Fourth of July through a livestream Saturday. Residents tuned in to the Evanston Fourth of July celebration through the association’s Facebook, website or WCGO Radio.

The city’s volunteer-led Fourth of July Association hosted virtual activities for residents including a parade, concert and fireworks show. The theme for the 99th annual celebration was “Community United Cannot Be Divided.” The event began at 11 a.m., kicking off with a livestreamed behind-the-scenes look at the typical preparation that occurs when organizing the parade, concert and fireworks show. The behind-the-scenes showcased how the association used creativity to create a virtual experience comparable to the in-person festivities.

At 2 p.m., the virtual parade began, which consisted of videos from past years’ highlights, greetings and entertainment submitted by the Evanston community, hosted by Jamie Black and Jenny Arrington.

Videos came from organizations all over the city. Pride parade organizers sent a fun message featuring a patriotic pride-flag toting unicorn; Evanston Fire Chief Brian Scott wished viewers a safe, fun Fourth of July and cautioned against domestic firework use; U.S. Rep Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston) expressed hope for better times.

“We are resilient and we go on, and I look forward to next year’s parade, bigger than ever, more vibrant than ever, enjoy (this year’s Fourth of July) as you can with your family and loved ones at home and a Happy Fourth of July,” Schakowsky said. “I love you and I love Evanston.”

The late Hecky Powell was honored as the grand marshal of the Fourth of July virtual parade. Powell was renowned for supporting students by connecting them with career opportunities, feeding hungry students from his popular barbecue restaurant Hecky’s Barbecue and serving as a philanthropic figure in the Evanston community.

“Hecky represented the very best in Evanston and the very best of America,” Mayor Steve Hagerty said. “Not only did he support this event, but he supported countless young people in our community throughout his life connecting them with career opportunities, mentorship and a pathway to achieving the American Dream.”

Musical performances included Jutta & the Hi-Dukes singing “Romelaj,” the Wilmette Community Band performing “National Emblem March” and the Palatine Concert Band.

In the festivities, the North End Mothers’ Club awarded four students from Evanston Township High School scholarships for their musical pursuits, achievement in STEM and incredible leadership.

ETHS administrators, such as Assistant Superintendent and Principal Marcus Campbell, school board President Pat Savage-Williams and Superintendent Eric Witherspoon, wished viewers a happy Fourth of July. Witherspoon called on residents to use this Fourth of July as a time for not only celebration, but reflection.

“We need to take stock of ourselves,” Witherspoon said. “We need to really be thoughtful and reflective about what freedom really means in this country and to commit ourselves that we will take action from today forward to make sure that every American is truly free.”

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