Why The Parade Was Called Off
Updated: Apr 28
News that the 2020 Lake Bluff 4th of July Parade was cancelled exploded through town like fireworks last week. Now that we’ve had a few days to process the news, LakeBluffStrong reached out to Parade Committee President Al Trefts to get the backstory. Here is an edited transcript of our Q&A:
Q: How did the Parade Committee arrive at its decision to call it off? I can’t imagine it was easy.
A: We have been consulting with the Village and local health authorities and believe the risk of bringing 19,000 visitors into our little Village of 6,000 people is very high. As you know, at previous parades there has not been any room for social distancing with that many people in town, and without adequate testing or tracking being available, we really do not want to turn Lake Bluff into the next COVID hot spot. There have not been any signs that the progression of the disease in Illinois is slowing, much less declining, so we all felt that this is the socially responsible thing to do.
There is an awful lot that has to go on behind the scenes to put together the parade, and we were starting to run up against deadlines.
Q: A lot of people don’t see or understand how much goes on behind the scenes to prepare for Lake Bluff’s parade. What were some of the deadlines?
A: There are some bands that have dates by which we have to make payments and commit in early May. It is hard for us to see how they are either practicing their music or routines now (especially for the high school bands while schools are not in session) or can practice social distancing as they practice or perform.
There is also the issue of contractors – we already had contracts out for the judge’s stage and port-o-potties, and those companies were anxious to know whether we were going to use them or not.
And volunteers—we need a lot of volunteers on parade day, and people were just not signing up.
Q: I hear the ever popular Parade Book is still coming out, is that right?
A: The book comes out on around June 20 but will look different and will be smaller. We’ve taken out a lot of pages that would give people the impression that there is a parade: the schedule, route, parking, bio of review officers, who is singing the National Anthem, etc..
Normally we have 8 to 10 sponsors; this year we have 1. Normally we have between 90 to 145 advertisers; this year we have 5. A lot of it is due to the economy during COVID-19, and businesses are trying to cut costs wherever they can.
Fortunately over the years we have been able to save some funds. We are offering free ad space to the parade’s recent sponsors and advertisers so their names are still out there, and we can ask people to support the businesses that have supported the parade in the past.
Q: Have other communities cancelled their 4th of July Parades this year?
A: There are a few Parades that have been cancelled, including the City of St Louis, MO, and locally Oak Brook, Lisle, Beecher and Carol Stream. Many others are either still in the works or just not saying anything.
The governor has recommended that there be no gatherings of more than 5 to 10 people throughout the summer months, and many other events are beginning to be pushed back or cancelled.
There were just a lot of negative factors adding up. It was a difficult decision, but it also was a unanimous decision by the committee.
The above photo is from last year's parade while the photo below is from 2014. Both illustrate how hard it would be for crowds and floats alike to stand six feet apart