(CBS) — Chicago area residents are showing their patriotism on this Fourth of July at picnics and parades across the city and suburbs.
WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports Dunton Avenue in Arlington Heights was awash in red, white, and blue, as families lined the street to cheer veterans, bands, and – sometimes – politicians marching in the village’s parade.
Dogs wore red, white, and blue bandanas, and their owners were similarly decked out for Independence Day.
Paula was nearly brought to tears watching World War II veterans pass by.
“We’re here, because my son was a Marine in Afghanistan, with three Purple Hearts,” she said. “I’ve got a son working in Washington for our government, and now my son who was in the Marine Corps came home.”
She said the parade shows patriotism is alive and well in Arlington Heights.
“It makes me want to cry,” she said. “Of course, I wish they were all home.”
A veteran in the crowd said everyone’s job is to remember those who have served our country, and provided us with the freedoms we enjoy today.
Vita Land – who came to the U.S. from Nova Scotia in 1968, and became a citizen in 1979 – was among the crowd in Union Park on Chicago’s Near West Side as Revolutionary War reenactors marched to celebrate our nation’s freedom.
“It’s just very moving to be here,” she said. “This is a very special country. It’s got warts, it’s got problems, but … as I get older, I get very emotional about being here.”
Satoko Crepeiux was equally appreciative. The Japanese native brought her children to the July 4th celebration at the Chicago History Musuem.
“I think it’s a great chance to know about history of America, so that’s why I took them here,” she said.
Her daughter, Allyssa, said she learned, “It’s really important to Chicago and America.”
In north suburban Evanston, residents had double the reasons to celebrate July 4th. It’s not only Independence Day, but Evanston’s 150th anniversary.
CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, among other sights to be seen in Evanston’s parade is a 1919 John Deere kerosene Water Boy tractor. In all, more than 120 different floats and other vehicles are taking part in the parade.
Many Evanston residents began putting out blankets and chairs along the parade route to reserve spots a week in advance to make sure they have an optimum viewing spot when the parade starts at 2 p.m. Thursday.
Kate Lee Fester helped organize the Evanston parade, and said many people don’t realize it’s a community parade organized and funded by volunteers, not the city of Evanston.
“Our motto is ‘By the people, for the people,’” she said. “Because it’s the city’s 150th birthday, they have given us some money for some extra paid performers and entertainment in the parade, but really the majority of it is put together by volunteer donations, and volunteer teams.”
Meantime, the political fireworks in Springfield also were a hot topic as Gov. Pat Quinn paid a visit to the Arlington Heights parade.
CBS 2’s Courtney Gousman reports the governor signed a package of laws aimed at helping veterans and service members who return home get jobs as police officers, emergency medical technicians, and truck drivers.
However, the governor did not want to talk about two other pressing issues that will be at the forefront in Springfield next week: legislation to allow people in Illinois to carry concealed firearms, and continuing efforts to overhaul the state’s employee pension systems, which have nearly $100 billion in unfunded liabilities.
“We’ll talk about that tomorrow. You know, there’s other issues of course, but today is a day to celebrate our country’s independence, it’s the Fourth of July, and I signed three bills that help our veterans,” he said. “I think all our people of Illinois need to remember that our veterans coming home from Afghanistan, coming back from Iraq, we’ve got to take good care of them. They were there for us when we really, really needed them.”
State lawmakers have said they won’t meet a July 9 deadline the governor set for a conference committee seeking to come up with a compromise on pension reform.
The Illinois House and Senate are also set to meet on Tuesday to seek to override changes the governor made to concealed carry legislation passed by lawmakers after months of sometimes heated negotiations.