Northbrook is swapping out a parade for decked-out porches to celebrate July 4
The Village of Northbrook has it figured out.
When life deals out lemons, make lemonade.
When people can't attend a parade, bring the parade to the people.
Northbrook's 4th of July Porch Parade may not be the milelong, Cherry Lane favorite to which people are accustomed, but its heart is in the right place.
Particularly when the fireworks have been moved to Sept. 5, the annual Liberty Loop has gone virtual and other Northbrook Fourth of July staples like the police-fire department softball game, the kids' bike parade and the Rotary Club pancake breakfast have been canceled in the wake of COVID-19 precautions.
"Obviously after we had to cancel this year's traditional activities there's a lot of interest in doing something else that gets the community involved and excited for what is a really fun, family holiday that usually is a pretty big deal in Northbrook," said Madeline Farrell, assistant to Village Manager Rich Nahrstadt.
"I think it can be a fun twist on a great traditional event," Farrell said.
By June 22 there were 25 households registered to be included on an interactive Porch Parade map available on the village website, on social media and by texting 4THJULY to 888777. The deadline for submissions was July 1.
It's pretty straightforward. Residents can decorate their house, porch, front yard and front windows with a family-friendly display for people to view on foot, by car, or bike.
Houses may be decorated for days before and after July 4, but they've got to be ready by 10 a.m. on July 4. Prime hours for the Porch Parade are 2-4 p.m. July 4, when the village will provide giveaways along the route. First- and second-place winners will be awarded in four categories -- overall best, most patriotic, most original and "most likely to make you smile."
"I love the idea. I think it's a great way to keep community spirits up and give families with younger children something to do for the hours they would have been at the parade," resident Sharon Latek said.
"We signed up for it because it's been such a tradition growing up in Northbrook. We've gone to the parade every year since 1970."
With her sister, Jenny, the Wescott School teacher is planning to decorate around a theme of "Through the Years with the Northbrook Parade," she said. Dedicated to her late -- and "very patriotic" -- father, Joseph May, and accompanied by Kenny Rogers' song "Through the Years" on Bluetooth speaker, the sisters planned on converting old photos into posters they can use for yard signs.
Between the two sisters, their mother, Patricia, their husbands and six combined children plus a couple dogs it's likely to be a lively time, and a moving display.
"This is my new project," said Latek, who also planned on filling 100 goody bags to pass out. "I've been moving one project at a time through COVID. So this is a new one."
Laura Ruesch, who lives in the Huntington neighborhood, said her family usually hosts a family party on the Fourth. All the red, white and blue stuff the Ruesches usually use to decorate the backyard will get front-of-the-house treatment.
"We don't decorate the porch too much but this year we're going to go all out," said Ruesch, who's thinking about landing one of those "most patriotic" awards.
"I think it's a good idea. I think a lot of people are being very creative now that this whole pandemic has hit. I work (at Glenbrook North High School) and we just did a drive-through graduation and I know a lot of the parents love it," she said.
"It's something different, too, you don't have to leave your car if you don't want to. If they live in the neighborhood they can just go walk around the block and look at the displays."
The theme at Jacki and Steve Ruhs' house in the heart of the Northbrook may not be "three-ring circus," but it sounds kind of like it.
The Glenbrook North sweethearts, Class of 2000, have the inflatable Mickey Mouse, the yard signs, the sidewalk chalk.
Their three young children, Everett, Madelyn and Eleanor, "were the caboose of the Bicycle Parade" last year, Jacki said, so bikes will be involved.
"We're going to try to make it the most normal but not-normal Fourth of July," she said.
"I'll be throwing candy at my kids in the front yard."