Evanston’s celebration of the Fourth of July is legendary. Thanks to the year-round efforts of the not-for-profit Evanston Fourth of July Association, we are counting on an equally great day this year, as “Sparky Helps Celebrate Our Hometown Fourth.”
On June 14, Flag Day, volunteers drape the Tallmadge light poles on Central Street with flags. On July 1, eager spectators rise at dawn to place their chairs at just the right spot: East side or west side? Sun or shade? Near the beginning on Lawndale Avenue, by the judges’ stand on McDaniel Avenue or close to the end at Ryan Field, by the reviewing stand? Only the true veterans of the chairs know for sure, of course, but in fact there is room for everyone at the Fourth of July parade.
We love the local flavor and the anticipation: How many Lawndale Lawnmowers will there be this year? Has the weight-dropping auxialiary lost a few barbells or only few pounds? Will the kazoo band ever march in unison – or ever want to? How ever will the Back Lot Association be able to fit this year’s activities humorously into that long float? Will any peregrines accompany the Evanston Library Friends?
We dance inside with the energy of the Evanston Township High School Pomkits, the cheerleaders and the athletes, and we keep time with the drum and bugle corps. We love the green uniforms of the Girl Scouts and the green hair of the Flying Fish. And more.
Music fills the air at the lakefront as dusk settles on the town. In the deep shade of Centennial park or along the rocks at Northwestern University’s lakefill, we wait until seemingly the darkest possible moment for the sky to blaze with fireworks.
We remember with awe and gratitude the patriots who established this country. Too often these days we see politicians instead of statesmen, glibness instead of candor, self-interest instead of public interest. Our wars and conflicts have been too often about money, power and resources rather than about morality and justice, squandering young lives and good will.
For a moment we can take a step into the past and stack our modern cynicism against those who stood up for the justice they believed in. It was inchoate by today’s standards but they pledged to it their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor.