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Great Lakes Naval Station Cancels July 4th Celebration

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NORTH CHICAGO (CBS) – Ongoing federal budget cuts prompted Naval Station Great Lakes in far north suburban Lake County to cancel this year’s Independence Day celebration.

The base’s commanding officer, Capt. Randy Lynch, said the two-day celebration was cancelled “due to the budget uncertainty” in the wake of federal spending cuts due to the so-called sequester. The event has been held every year since 1911, as a free public celebration of July 4th.

Public Affairs Officer John Sheppard said Lynch called together the men and women on base and made the announcement.

“There was a collective groan,” he said. “They’re very disappointed. They understand, because of the budget situation, why it was cancelled, but it is very disappointing. People here look forward to it every year. It’s sort of the centerpiece of our year here. And because we allow civilians on board during that time, it’s also our way of giving a little back to the community.”

Although most of the costs of the festival itself have been funded by corporate sponsorship and retail sales during the event, the security costs could not be covered this year without a clearer picture of the federal budget situation.

Earlier this week, the Chicago Air & Water Show lost two of its most popular military attractions — the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds team, and the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team — cancelled their appearances over the sequester cuts. The Thunderbirds have cancelled all performances this year, effective April 1; the Golden Knights have cancelled all their performances for the rest of the fiscal year.