4th of July Association continues proud tradition
From left, Bob Stensby of Northbrook donates to the bucket brigade of Jody Kenzer, Sharon Latek and Shari Bergstein for the Northbrook 4th of July Association. | Karie Angell Luc~for Sun-Times Media
Fourth of July schedule
• 7 to 11 a.m.: Pancakes in the Park and music by the New Tradition Chorus, Village Green, 1810 Walters Ave.
• 7:30 a.m.: The Liberty Loop 5K Run/Walk, Techny Prairie Park and Fields, 1750 Techny Road.
• 10 a.m.: Annual Softball Game, police versus firefighters, Village Green Park
• 2 p.m.: Decorated Bicycle Parade, with the best dressed bikes winning prizes, Cherry and Western, follows Independence Day parade route (see below)
• 2:30 p.m.: Independence Day Parade — from the corner of Cherry Lane and Western Avenue, east then southeast on Cherry to Shermer, then southwest on Shermer to Meadow Road.
• Dusk: Fireworks at Meadowhill Park, 1475 Maple Ave.
Updated: July 29, 2012 6:52AM
The Northbrook 4th of July Association, which has been preparing for the upcoming holiday since January, is down to the final details.
The organization, a non-profit corporation since June 20, 1968, has a lot to do, because it operates completely on volunteer power and donations.
“We are getting really close and this is the big push, when we put it all together. We are finalizing all the parade applications, as well as staging the parade soon,” said Sharon Latek, a co-chair for the event.
The entire association has been meeting twice a month, but Latek and Shari Bergstein, the other co-chair, also have been meeting with committees, whose members total only 15 to 20, at least once a week.
“Thats why we’re the co-chairs overseeing all the committees. We get it done,” Bergstein said.
“Some of the people on the committees have been doing this more than 20 years. They’ve dedicated themselves to this community holiday and they have been amazing,” Latek added.
Now that the holiday is only days away, the association is trying to raise the final funds needed to make the all-day celebration a reality.
So the volunteers are selling $35 BoosterShot Checkbook coupon books offering more than $400 in local savings at various locations throughout the village.
“It costs $55,000 for us to put the event on. We are getting $20,000 from the village and the Northbrook Civic Foundation gives us $5,000,” Bergstein said.
“Most of the money collected goes to pay for the fireworks, which cost $20,000 this year. So we will be out ‘canning’ for more donations,” Bergstein said.
“Sunset Foods donates in-kind donations throughout the day, and the Northbrook Park District contributes a lot.”
However, Northbrook’s celebration of Independence Day wasn’t always so big or so popular. Several decades ago The parades were small and not well attended.
But in 1966, residents found a new way to celebrate that made national news.
According to a 1966 newspaper story, the parade that was held in 1949 drew only 150 spectators, but the parade held that year drew more than 10 times that number of marchers alone.
That was the year that participants from the Park District, YMCA, scouting, civic and neighborhood groups carried 1,000 transistor radios as they left Greenbriar School on their way to the Village Green with their radios tuned to a local radio station playing patriotic music.
The parade without bands, which was planned by Kenneth Thiel, then the North Suburban YMCA General Secretary, drew about 22,000 spectators.
It was featured on WMAQ-TV news with Floyd Kalber, on the national NBC Huntley Brinkley Report on July 4, 1966, and on The Today Show the following morning. The parade was such a success it was repeated in 1967.
A fireworks program had begun in 1956 when the Northbrook Jaycees planned and ran it, but the 11th and last fireworks show sponsored by the group was held in 1967.
In 1968, the Association planned the parade and took over the fireworks program.
Breakfast in the Park was added as part of the Bicentennial festivities in 1976. Since then, the breakfast has become a tradition for thousands of Northbrook families.