Independence Day parades in Brookfield and Riverside – a highlight of the summer denied to residents last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic – will be back in 2021, though final details remain dependent on state guidelines for holding large gatherings and, so, could change.
However, with Gov. J.B. Pritzker saying recently that Illinois could enter Phase 5, a full reopening sometime in June, it appears likely that the parades will be a go.
“Guidelines are changing daily,” said Riverside Recreation Director Ron Malchiodi, “If we’re in Phase 5 by then, we may be able to run a normal parade.”
One surefire difference is that both parades have been scheduled to take place on Saturday, July 3 since Independence Day falls on a Sunday in 2021. Since church groups are often participants in the morning parades, local officials didn’t want the events to conflict with Sunday church services.
Since the state is not yet in Phase 5, Malchiodi said the plan for now is to lengthen the Riverside parade route in order to allow residents to spread out along its entire length and not bunch up along Longcommon Road and in the downtown area.
Tentatively, the parade is slated to wind its way through the village from Patriots Park in the north all the way to the Scout Cabin in the south. Such a route will also play a bit of havoc with those who participate in both the Riverside and Brookfield parades, which start within an hour of one another.
There’s little margin for error in making it from one parade to the other for ensembles like the Riverside-Brookfield High School marching band, for example.
“We wouldn’t expect every entrant to make the entire route,” said Malchiodi, who said the parade length could end up changing depending on circumstances.
“We’re definitely having a parade,” he said.
It does not appear that there will be a Concert in the Park in Guthrie Park the night before the parade, said Malchiodi, and the annual Independence Day 5K has been moved up to June 26 as a Friends of the Fourth fundraiser to help fund future July 4 events.
Due to the possibility of a longer parade in 2021, it would be impossible to stage a 5K the same day, Malchiodi said.
The parade route in Brookfield will also be slightly different in 2021, but COVID isn’t the reason. Rather, the Brookfield Avenue bridge over Salt Creek is out of commission due to the summer-long bridge replacement project, which means the Brookfield parade will end at Grand Boulevard and Brookfield Avenue.
There also will be no post-parade party in Kiwanis Park, said Recreation Director Stevie Ferrari, since there’s no guarantee the state will fully reopen prior to July.
“A lot of coordination goes into that event – sound, performers, entertainers, food, beer, police, public works – those decisions need to be made now, not at the last minute,” Ferrari said.