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WGN’s Morning News show’s plans to bring a major block party  to Evanston’s downtown on Aug. 12 have been called off, with the recent events in Highland Park cited as the reason.

Evanston City Council members approved June 27 the WGN News Block Party event as proposed by Downtown Evanston, the group that provides marketing and management services to the downtown area.

But this week, WGN informed Annie Coakley, Executive Director of Downtown Evanston, that it had made “the difficult decision to postpone” this year’s event.

“We don’t feel it’s the right time in light of the recent events in Highland Park,” Dominick Stasi, WGN’s News Director, said in a follow-up letter to Coakley.

“You and the city of Evanston have been fantastic partners through all of this,” he wrote. “When the time is right, we hope we can pick up the planning right where we left off.”

The news show planned to bring its annual Block Party broadcast to downtown streets, going live with a broadcast from the area at 6 a.m.

The event, complete with music acts, food vendors and entertainment, would also give the city an opportunity to feature downtown and its businesses, rebounding after COVID-19.

Last year’s event in Naperville drew approximately 10,000 people, said Audrey Thompson, the city’s Parks and Recreation Director, in a memo to the Council.

Evanston was chosen partially because of its lakefront, officials said, with WGN planning to film some activities there as part of the show.

Downtown Evanston had already been working on the logistics for this year’s event, including lining up people to speak, ordering the stage and procuring entertainment, Coakley said.

The group is hopeful that WGN will be able pick up where the station left off, she said, when the time is ripe.

“It’s such a great opportunity,” she said.

Bob Seidenberg

Bob Seidenberg is an award-winning reporter covering issues in Evanston for more than 30 years. He is a graduate of the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism.

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