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Highland Park Cancels Large Fourth of July Gatherings Due to COVID-19

Highland Park, IL Cancels Large Fourth of July Gatherings Due to COVID-19
Park District, City reschedule or plan alternate activities

April 30, 2021 – After much consideration, the City of Highland Park and the Park District of Highland Park have made the difficult decision to cancel Highland Park’s traditional 4th of July community events, including the 4th of July Parade and FourthFest. The Fireworks Display is tentatively planned for Labor Day weekend, depending on public health guidance regarding large gatherings, and the Bitter Jester Music Festival anticipates hosting its annual music competition and concert series on a revised schedule in July and August, to conclude at the September Fireworks Display, pandemic conditions permitting.

In place of the traditional large community events, the City and Park District have planned alternative activities. The City will sponsor a virtual Independence Day parade, encouraging residents and businesses to submit celebratory photos and videos at The Park District is planning a series of small, family-friendly events that will take place over the 4th of July holiday weekend including a virtual Firecracker 5K Fun Run, Walk or Bike event benefitting the Parks Foundation of Highland Park; a free Firecracker Family Boot Camp Competition;  Drive-In Movie Night at the Recreation Center; 4th of July family specials for rounds of golf at Sunset Valley Golf Club and the River’s Edge Adventure Mini-Golf Course; and an evening event at Hidden Creek AquaPark to float and watch fireworks on a big screen. 

“Throughout the pandemic, Highland Park has made decisions based on guidance from county and state officials and informed by data trends in our region and state,” said Mayor Nancy Rotering. “We know that it is difficult to ask our community to sacrifice another year without the traditions that bring us together, but this is ultimately a question of public health. By celebrating safely this year as recommended by CDC guidelines, we will ensure that we will all be able to come together next summer.”

 “While cancelling the traditional celebrations that have been enjoyed by generations of Highland Park residents for a second year was a difficult decision, the safety of our community is our top priority,” said Barney Ruttenberg, President of the Board for the Park District of Highland Park. “Given the current and possible COVID-related restrictions, at this time it does not appear that it would be safe to bring large groups of people together.”

The scaled-back, in-person events offered this year reflect the progress that Illinois has made in its pandemic response since last summer. In 2020, the City and the Park District canceled in-person 4th of July celebrations in their entirety, instead collaborating with other organizations, including the Highland Park Historical Society, the Highland Park Public Library and the Bitter Jester Music Festival, to offer a variety of virtual events.

Further details regarding the Park District’s 4th of July activities will be available in the Park District’s digital summer brochure to be released on Wednesday, May 5. To receive the digital brochure, residents are encouraged to sign up for the Park District e-newsletter. The City will share information regarding the Fireworks Display and the Bitter Jester Music Festival as it becomes available at