CHICAGO (CBS) — Many communities have put their public celebrations on hold this Fourth of July over coronavirus concerns and social distancing.

But in one community, the stars and stripes will still play, just in a different way.

CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports from Evanston where the Fourth of July celebration is going online.

Typically you’d find a sea of lawn chairs saving spots for the Evanston Fourth of July parade. The holiday’s events and fireworks show are entirely funded by volunteers and the community.

A community that found a way to keep it going online.

At an Evanston radio station, they’re putting the finishing touches on a virtual event.

“With technology, you have to deal with all the glitches,” said celebration manager Jamie Black.

For 99 year’s, the city’s Fourth of July celebration was a colorful grassroots-funded procession that paraded through town.

“Generations of people have grown up with the Evanston Fourth of July parade,” said Trustee Emeritus Bruce Baumberger.

But with COVID-19, organizers had to cancel.

“We were disappointed when we had to make the decision,” Black said.

So they came up with the next best thing: a patriotic tribute, streamed live on Facebook and YouTube.

“That was the natural step, to take it online so we could celebrate with the people of Evanston,” Black said.

So the call went out to dozens of traditional participants to submit their own videos and  keep the parade on course virtually.

And they did.

“We waited with great expectation wondering what would happen,” laughed Baumberger.

Submissions include the Rainbow Unicorn from Evanston Pride prancing through town, the city’s youth lacrosse league in action and a few high notes from Jutta and the Hi-Dukes, just to name a few.

The day typically features an evening lakeside concert. This year, a 2015 performance from the Palatine concert band with fireworks will stream live at 8:00 instead.

Certainly not what the city’s used to, but for E-town it’s not a bad Plan B.

It doesn’t surprise me at all. That’s just Evanston,” Black said.

The theme for this year’s parade is “Community United Cannot be Divided.” That was chosen months before the pandemic and recent calls for racial justice. Organizers said it’s a good fit.

There is a parade pre-show at 11:00, the actual parade at 2:00, and the patriotic concert at 8:00.

You can find links at evanston4th.org.

 

Vince Gerasole