Highland Park reveals 2024 July 4th plans two years after parade shooting

With summer fast approaching, the City of Highland Park is unveiling its plans for Independence Day, nearly two years after a gunman opened fire on a crowd of unsuspecting parade-goers.

Like last summer, there will be no fireworks display to commemorate the holiday, and it will once again begin with a remembrance ceremony. 

This year, however, a Fourth of July parade is set to return with a new route and a community-focused theme: "Sweet Home Highland Park."

"We're a resilient community, we are here for one another, we are working towards moving forward," Mayor Nancy Rotering told FOX 32 Chicago on Wednesday.

In Highland Park, the Fourth of July will forever mark a difficult milestone.

"We’re still feeling the heartbreak of the loss of seven precious lives," said Rotering.

On July 4, 2022, seven community members were killed and dozens more were injured when a gunman fired upon a busy parade route.

While the community continues to heal, Rotering also hopes to provide a place for new traditions and memories to form this year.

"All of our planning to date has been through trauma-informed deliberation, frankly. It’s a delicate balance that we’re trying to meet," said Rotering.

This year, the Fourth of July will commence with a remembrance ceremony at 10 a.m. to honor the victims. The event will be open to the public, but pre-registration is required. The ceremony will be held indoors, with additional details to be provided here at a later date.  

The city is also moving forward with hosting an Independence Day parade, following a community walk in lieu of a parade last year. The parade will kick off at 1 p.m. on an adjusted route.

"We will be moving down to Laurel Avenue, and we will pick up Central Avenue at Green Bay Road," said Rotering.

The day will end with 4th Fest at Sunset Woods Park from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., where carnival games, a petting zoo and food trucks will be part of an array of family-friendly activities.

"We recognize in talking to people, particularly parents of young children, people who grew up here, so many great memories have been made in the decades past around the Fourth of July celebrations," said Rotering. "We wanted to try to recapture that special time, that community magic."

There will be no city-sponsored evening events this Fourth of July.

Last year, the City of Highland Park hosted a drone light show instead of a fireworks display.

Officials are still planning to hold a similar drone show, but it will not be held on Independence Day. Rather, Rotering says a drone show will be centered around another celebration later in the summer, with additional details to be announced at a future date. 

Officials say they recognize that community members may benefit from professional support when considering participation in Independence Day activities. 

Highland Park’s Resiliency Division provides assistance, including short-term counseling, resources and referrals, case management and needs assessments, and more. 

For information about support services available through the Resiliency Division, click here