It may seem that COVID-19 has been here forever, but there were 10 or so weeks at the beginning of the year when we thought this year would mark the end of a decade, not the beginning of a remote new normal.

And while the novel coronavirus COVID-19 ravaged the community, Evanstonians also brought focus to two other crises, racism and climate change. In creative ways, community members, Evanstonians rallied: They provided food and shelter to those without; they bought gift cards and filled virtual tip jars. Peaceful protests, streamed celebrations and car parades marked the summer, as masks, social distance, remote learning and virtual communication became commonplace.

Lake Michigan came at us, furiously sweeping away sand and hurling rocks onto the shore.

We lost many – too many – residents.

But in slogging through this year, we also found ways to enjoy the moment, acknowledge those on the front line and share a slice or two of cheer.

Bob Seidenberg’s Jan. 1 story on the legal sales of recreational cannabis was titled “Hello, 2020.” Here you go, 2020, and none too soon. (Except as noted, photos by RoundTable staff)


The opening of Medmen on Maple Avenue to sell recreational cannabis draws hundreds of people on Jan. 1 The City’s 3% tax on the sale of these products will go into the City’s Reparations Fund.

Learning to tie a tie is an important part of Officer and Gentlemen Academy.

Lee Street Beach felt the fury of Lake Michigan.

Evanston Children’s Choir performs at Martin Luther King Day ceremony, Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center. 

Members of the League of Women Voters of Evanston challenged the Evanston Voter Initiative.

Filming of television show “Fargo” at the lakefront.


Black History Makers Bennett Johnson and Gerri Sizemore

ETHS chess champions (submitted photo)

Robert Crown Branch Library opens (photo by Lynn Trautmann)

Pazcki-eating champ (center) at Bennison’s Bakery

The Chamber of Commerce recognizes Dick Peach, Rotary Club President, Sandy Chen, owner of Koi Restaurant, and Steve Newman, founder and director of Evanston Scholars.

Bread and other staples vanish from grocery stores, as Evanstonians learn of a possible lockdown from a novel coronavirus spreading from China. In January, the RoundTable posted letters from Evanston resident Kurt Mitenbuler, who was quarantined in China. Photo by Janet G. Messenger


City Health Director Ike Ogbo describes precautions taken against the novel coronavirus, named COVID-19, 2019 being the year the virus was identified. 

While it was still safe to travel, the ETHS jazz bands visited and performed in New Orleans. (submitted photo). By mid-March, public schools were closed; teachers, administrators, and students pivot to remote learning.


As the virus hit Evanston, businesses adapted (photo of Leonidas by Lynn Trautmann; photo of Old Neighborhood Grill from Harvey Moshman)

Parks and playgrounds were closed (photo by Lynn Trautmann)

The community pulled together with encouragement.

And spring came,


April Fool

The old Robert Crown Center demolished. “Dethroned” wrote Steve Lemieux-Jordan when he sent this drone photo.

The virus posed economic as well as health threats, and Evanston residents responded by getting food to those who needed it,

Poet Sue Gundlach celebrated Poetry Month with a Poet Tree. (submitted photo)

It’s not the Easter Bunny. Photo by Mary De Jong.

Evanstonians enjoyed being outside. Photo of dolls at Clark Square by Mary De Jong; photo of kite-flyers at Lighthouse Beach by Mary Mumbrue. Mike Roche, who snapped the photo of the man exercising, added this note: “Even the sidewalk wears a mask.”

People give a hoot about the owls on Marcy Avenue. Photo by Jim Peterson


Chef Q volunteers her time and talents to provide fresh-cooked meals to many Evanston residents. Other individuals, as well as the City and School Districts, work to see that people in need receive food.

ETHS alums devise a virus-resistant cell-phone case, donating many to hospital workers, as both of them had been treated for COVID-19.

The Downtown Farmers Market opens.

ETHS Boosters prepare to distribute graduation signs to all ETHS seniors.

Austin Brown speaks at the first, and, it is hoped, only virtual ETHS commencement. 

Sam Tannen plays “Taps” at the Memorial Day observances at American Legion Post 42. Photo by Mike Roche

Reacting to the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Evanston Fight for Black Lives organized a march (with signs for social distancing and mask-wearing) for racial justice that drew more than 5,000.


About 1,500 people attended the June 7 rally in Fountain Square, sponsored Evanston Northshore Branch NAACP, Chessmen Club of the Northshore, Evanston Alumni Chapter (IL) Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, INC., and BEM (Black Evanston Men).

District 65 Superintendent Devon Horton speaks at a press conference about a bill sponsored by State Representative La Shawn Ford to incorporate multicultural history into public high school curricula. Meleika Gardner, to his right in photo, helped write an amendment to the bill.

Juneteenth car parade. Kemone Hendricks, at right in photo below with Clarence and Wendy Weaver, organized a month-long celebration of Juneteenth. June 19, 1865, was the day that news of the end of the Civil War and of slavery arrived in Texas.

At Mason Park, attendees kneel for “We Shall Overcome.”

ETHS alums  bring a conversation on race to the north end of town with “Talking Whitness on Central Street.”

E. Patrick Johnson of Northwestern University’s Imagine U storytimes reads a children’s book, available virtually. (Submitted photo)

A rare yellow-headed blackbird visits Evanston.

Saint Francis Hospital workers kneel for eight minutes and 46 seconds in recognition of the death of George Floyd.

The Pride Car Parade wends is way through Evanston neighborhoods. (photo by Rodney Masarirambi)

Evanston Made offers free hearts.

Victoria Scott and Heidi Randhava contributed to this piece

See  2020: Predictability, then Pandemic, Parades and Protests Part 2 for July-December in Evanston.

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...