CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - From a big get together at Montrose Beach Thursday to local restaurants holding Bastille Day celebrations, the mood turned somber when news broke about the terror attack in Nice.
Twenty four hours later, the tragedy still weighed heavily on French Americans in Chicago.
Bastille Day is the American equivalent of the 4th of July. There’s food, music and fireworks. But now, that holiday will be remembered for the tragedy that we all watched unfold in one of the most beautiful places in France.
“My heart is with France because I was born there, I came here about 31 years old and ummm, it's sad,” said Georges Cuisance, owner of Kiki’s Bistro.
Cuisance has called Chicago home for the past five decades. He’s made his livelihood here. His restaurant, Kiki's Bistro, is a popular Northside gathering spot, uniting all walks of life with a touch of France.
The balloons from Thursday’s Bastille Day celebrations still hang outside his business on Friday
The mood turned somber when news broke last night.
“At first they told me there were 29 people dead, then after it was 75 people dead,” Cuisance said.
By morning, that number had risen above 80, with dozens more still critical.
“Today, our thoughts are with the victims of this coward attack and with the families,” said Vincent Floreani, Consulate General of France.
Speaking for the first time since the attack, the Consulate General of France in Chicago talked about the outpouring of support he's received.
“Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel called to offer his support. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner wrote to me to express his sympathy. We also received messages of support from Jewish and Muslim organizations,” Floreani said.
He also asked that Americans who wish to visit his country do not live in fear of terrorists, saying the extended state of emergency means police now have more power than ever to keep their cities safe.
“Terrorist attacks occur everywhere, unfortunately. A few weeks back it was Orlando, then Istanbul. Yesterday it was Nice. It's very difficult in west countries to prevent that sort of attack,” Floreani said.
Floreani says there has been no direct threats made to the consulate in Chicago, but they remain on heightened alert, working very closely with Chicago police.
Chicago police say they will have extra uniformed police on patrol at events, like this weekend's Pitchfork Music Festival.