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City, Park District Cancel Fourth of July Events due to COVID-19

Highland Park, IL Cancels Fourth of July and Other Upcoming Public Events due to COVID-19
Action is aligned with State of Illinois guidance regarding large public events


May 5, 2020 – The City of Highland Park and the Park District of Highland Park have made the difficult decision to cancel the annual Fourth of July celebrations due to COVID-19 health concerns. The Independence Day festivities include the community parade, Fourth Fest family event, the Bitter Jester Music Festival, fireworks display, and Float & Fireworks event at Hidden Creek AquaPark.

“This decision took into account the lead time for planning the events and was made after careful consideration based on the consensus of public health officials,” said Mayor Nancy Rotering. “The health and safety of our community is our highest priority. Data suggests that large gatherings present a great risk for transmission of COVID-19. We must stay the course to reduce exposure to this deadly illness so that we may be together again as soon as possible.”

The City and the Park District have been in daily communication, along with other community and government partners, to present a strategic and collaborative response to COVID-19. “We are grateful to the partners, sponsors, volunteers, participants and staff for their understanding and support,” said City Manager Ghida Neukirch.

The action follows guidance from Governor Pritzker, who encouraged local governments and event organizers to begin evaluating whether to proceed with large summer events that attract crowds. Governor Pritzker suggested at his April 9, 2020 press conference that large social gatherings would likely need to be limited until a vaccine for COVID-19 is found. Bitter Jester Music Festival, the summer music festival featuring Friday night concerts in June and culminating in a final concert on the 4th of July has been canceled.  At this time, Food Truck Thursdays have also been canceled through July 30. The event, which typically attracts large crowds, will be reevaluated in June when additional data becomes available. The City is currently working with its vendor to explore options for operating this event safely and will consider alternate locations and extending the event later into the fall if possible.

“While we are saddened to cancel our most popular free community events, the safety of our residents is of paramount importance,” said Brian Kaplan, President of the Board of Commissioners for the Park District of Highland Park. “Our celebrations exemplify the spirit of Highland Park, and over the past several weeks, we have seen that spirit shine as we face this challenging time together.”

The City of Highland Park has also made the difficult decision to cancel the annual Memorial Day observance.  Honors for fallen service men and women may be incorporated into the Veteran’s Day celebration in November. Changes or cancelations to other seasonal large-scale events will be announced based on further guidance from public health officials.

The Park District of Highland Park continues to closely monitor developments and public health guidance, particularly with regard to summer programming. Any changes to the Park District’s summer calendar will be announced as soon as possible. Updates on the Park District's response to COVID-19 are available here.  Information is also shared regularly via social media and email.   Sign up for these important email updates here.

Information about the City’s response to COVID-19 and resources is available at www.cityhpil.com/covid-19.  Information is also shared regularly via social media and e-newsletter. Individuals may sign up to receive these important email updates at cityhpil.com/e_notify/index.php. Residents and businesses can contact 847.926.1000 with questions or email cityhp@cityhpil.com.