Chicago’s Diversity Highlighted in Its July 4th Festivities

This 4th of July was the 232rd birthday of the United States. John Adams called the day in 1776: “a day of deliverance”, with “…pomp and parade…shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.” And that sense of revelry has continued to this day, as can be seen in Chicago’s lavish and extensive July 4th celebrations.

The fun kicks off early in Chicago with its annual Taste of Chicago. Starting on June 27th thousands of people flocked to Chicago’s lakefront to partake in the many and varied vendors. There are the old standbys, like the traditional cheesecake from Eli’s Cheesecake, deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, or the huge turkey leg from Helen’s Restaurant. But for me no trip to the Taste would be complete without a waffle cone overflowing with rainbow ice cream from the Original Rainbow Cone. And of course, any time you need a break from the endless rows of vendors you can veer off the main drag and listen to the many bands the Taste offers. Or you can just take a step back and people watch. The Taste attracts all sorts- from kids filling up their lazy summer days, out-of-town visitors trying to get a sense of Chicago, serious foodies with an extensive rating system for all the booths, or the suit-wearing business people running over for a quick bite during lunch. The Taste truly has it all and is a perfect way to jump start the July 4th festivities.

And in case you couldn’t wait til July 4th to get your fill of fireworks Chicago does their display on July 3rd. The streets close down as millions of people make their way to Chicago’s lakefront to stake out their spot for watching the show. Hours beforehand you can see endless streams of people flooding the streets, all moving in the same direction. Then as it approaches 9:30 p.m. the crowds slowly start to settle as people find their way to their patch of grass. Then all eyes look towards the sky as it begins to erupt in color and sound. This year was perhaps the best display I’ve seen as each year Chicago strives to top its previous performances. The wide range of vibrant colors and different types of explosions, and all put to music, truly makes for an overwhelming experience that culminates in the intense spectacle of the finale. After it was over I looked around and saw the same awe and wonder on the face of everyone around me- no matter what your background or age the fireworks made an impression.

Then on the 4th itself there are several local parades to choose from. I attended the Evanston parade. It was a glorious day, loaded with floats, marching bands, politicians, school groups, theater companies, children by dozens, tumblers and just nice people handing out cold bottles of water to the more than 100 groups making up the parade. By the 2 p.m. start of the parade the curbs were lined four and five deep with families, friends and dogs. People on roller blades, bicycles, stilts and motor bikes were evident. The sun was out, the humidity was low and the enthusiasm abounded. The strength of the gathering may not have only been in the numbers who marched or watched, but in its diversity. The paraders and the viewers represented literally every imaginable group, religion, creed, organization, cause, preference, economic background, race and view.

Bob Kreisman is a member of the Chicago law firm, Kreisman Law Offices, 55 West Monroe Street, Suite 3720, Chicago, IL 60603-5011. He can be contacted at 312-346-0045; 800-583-8002;
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