Evanston Fourth of July Association recruits volunteers for 2023 celebration


Daily file photo by Nathalie Stein

The 2018 Evanston Fourth of July parade. Evanston has not celebrated an in-person Fourth of July since 2019.

Divya Bhardwaj, Assistant City Editor

Content warning: This article contains mentions of gun violence.

More than three years after the last traditional Independence Day celebration in Evanston, the Evanston Fourth of July Association aims to bring back the typical festivities this summer. 

In late December, the association sent flyers to residents asking for contributions and volunteers to help run the event. 

Trustee emeritus Bruce Baumberger, who has been involved with the association since 1972, said community support is more vital than ever for 2023’s celebrations. 

“We’re definitely in a rebuilding year,” he said. 

Evanston’s in-person Fourth of July celebrations — which have included family-friendly games in the morning, a parade in the afternoon and a fireworks display in the evening — last occurred in 2019. 

In 2020 and 2021, the association offered online activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, the mass shooting at the Highland Park Fourth of July celebration caused a last-minute cancellation of Evanston events.

But this year, Baumberger said the association is hopeful the festivities will return in a traditional sense, but he said the group needs to see involvement from the Evanston community.

“We have a role for everyone to play,” Baumberger said. “This is a communitywide celebration to celebrate our nation’s independence.” 

The Evanston Fourth of July Association relies entirely on donations and volunteers. The number of contributions and volunteers has dwindled in recent years, according to Baumberger. 

Sam Sibley, who has been a trustee in the group since 1995, emphasized including all members of the community in the planning process.   

“We need to branch out to everyone in Evanston,” Sibley said. “We’ve been doing it for 100 years, and the parade is well-organized and we know how to put it on, but we have to get the rest of the people involved.”

Volunteers help organize the morning Fun Run and playground events, marshal the parade and coordinate the band concert and fireworks. The association is also expanding to include more avenues for community involvement, such as through artwork. 

Last year, the Evanston Fourth of July Association sponsored artists to paint murals on sidewalks and streets throughout the city themed around diversity. Former celebration manager Jamie Black, who organized the project but recently stepped down from the association ahead of his move away from Evanston, called the public art project a success. 

With a combination of innovation and honoring tradition, the Evanston Fourth of July Association aims to recruit more volunteers to ensure 2023’s celebration goes as planned. 

“Hopefully people will see the value in the organization and the celebration and will want to lend a hand,” Black said. 

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