The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

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Reclaiming A Tradition: Highland Park’s 2024 Independence Day Parade

For many midwesterners, the Fourth of July is tainted with a reminder of the tragic event that took place at Highland Park’s annual Independence Day parade in 2022. Nearly two years later, Lake County residents are still grieving the loss of seven Highland Park citizens who were innocently attending the parade alongside their families and friends. Among those were: Katherine Goldstein, 64, Irina McCarthy, 35, Kevin McCarthy, 37, Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63, Stephen Straus, 88, and Nicolas Toledo-Zargoza, 78.

Following the fatal shooting, Highland Park residents were unsure if they would have the opportunity to attend a community parade again. However, on April 17, the City of Highland Park announced that they will resume their Fourth of July celebrations this upcoming summer.

The day will look different this year, though. Highland Park has received guidance from the Department of Justice, as well as several mental health clinicians, in order to create an organized structure for the festivities. The town has also decided to place an emphasis on commemorating those who lost their lives during the shooting. The celebration has been framed to include a morning remembrance ceremony and an afternoon parade along a new route through downtown Highland Park.

The remembrance ceremony can also be a time for individuals to reflect upon the shooting and to think about what can be done to prevent future gun violence. The shooter, Robert “Bobby” Crimo III, had a history of engaging in violence, and was a troubled individual. His father, Robert Crimo Jr., had known about his son’s unstable condition, yet had still helped him in acquiring a firearm owner’s ID card. In December of 2022, Robert Crimo Jr. was charged with seven counts of reckless conduct for his facilitation of the shooting, yet only served three months of prison time. This has angered many people who believe that a more severe punishment should have been awarded to an instigator of this mass shooting.

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“I think this sets an unacceptable precedent that it is okay to be even minorly involved in a mass shooting, or any kind of violence, but not receive adequate reprimandations,” says junior Isabella Adams.

Despite the work Highland Park officials have put into making residents feel safe, some individuals are still apprehensive about attending the parade and the other festivities.

“Even though I know how much Highland Park has worked to implement a safer route for the parade and create a structure for the day, it is still hard to feel safe knowing what happened two years ago,” says Lucy Comphr, a junior at Highland Park High School.

Other residents, such as LFHS math teacher Mr. John Kleeman, are excited to resume the celebrations.

“I think it’s great that they’re resuming the parade. Hopefully it will help everyone get past the trauma that was experienced; I look forward to celebrating with the community,” says Mr. Kleeman.

Another resident of Highland Park, LFHS math teacher Mr. Paul Goldstein, said it is vital that Highland Park resume its celebrations.

“I think you have to resume. Waiting an extra year was definitely a wise idea as the shooting was still fresh in people’s minds but now, although people will never forget what happened, it is necessary to resume normal life,” says Mr. Goldstein.

Mrs. Michelle Glyman, a staff member at LFHS, also wishes well for Highland Park.

“I feel that Highland Park has always been such a wonderful community to have as our neighbor. They deserve peace as they move forward through this tragic and painful memory,” said Glyman.

Some individuals, like LFHS substitute teacher and Highland Park Resident Mrs. Beth Conen, commend the work being done by Highland Park and appreciate the updated structure of the event.

“I think the new route is a good solution. It’s positive and a good way to try and heal the wounds inflicted from the shooting,” said Conen.

Highland Park finds it important that they restore their Independence Day traditions and reclaim this historic day. Terry Grossberg, president of the Park District of Highland Park Board of Commissioners, said,  “While our community was forever changed by the events on July 4, 2022, this Independence Day, we can start a new chapter by coming together in love and kindness for one another.”

This story was originally published on The Forest Scout on May 9, 2024.