On the 4th of July, Independence Day, the Grand Parade celebration is a yearly tradition in Evanston, Illinois. It reaches back nearly 100 years. Ms. Mary Ellen Lydon, Director of the Evanston Independence Day Association, said that preparations for the parade begin in January. This includes invitations for performing groups, fundraising, and program planning that involves the support of many volunteers.
The parade attracts tens of thousands of spectators every year. A few days before the procession, people start to reserve viewing spaces by placing chairs along both sides of the street. The popularity of this event is very obvious.
The theme of this year’s parade was “Evanston’s hero is the hero of the United States: the first echelon.” The theme was chosen to thank the police, firefighters, and other front-line staff for their service to the community. Reflecting this year’s theme, Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington and Fire Chief Brian Scott were the parade’s Grand Marshals.
The police and firefighters led the procession followed by various groups. Participants included a high school marching band, Scottish bagpipers, Falun Gong lotus floats, and folk dance troupes, as well as a highly skilled cycling team. Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and officials at all levels of the government joined the procession.
Falun Gong practitioners in the Chicago area were again invited to the parade. Falun Gong’s group was divided into several teams led by banners and followed by a brightly colored flag team, marchers in Chinese Tang golden dresses, a drum and a waist drum team, and Chinese and Western Falun Gong practitioners on flower floats performing exercises.
Mr. James Marran, who lives in Winnetka, Illinois, is over 80 years old and has been watching the parade for over 40 years. He said:
“This is an important yearly Independence Day celebration and the happiest day of the year. It shows the values and diversity of this country and the history of the building of our nation. It also reminds us of our rights: the right to life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Translated by Chau BC.