'New traditions and memories': What Highland Park has planned for July 4 this year

Highland Park plans to host a "trauma informed" public gathering on July 4, celebrating the community as it marks the anniversary of the mass shooting that left seven spectators dead at last year's Independence Day parade.

The day's events will be flexible and structured to allow community members to participate in the way that is most comfortable and meaningful for them, officials said Wednesday.

"We know that the day will be filled with emotion as we mark the one-year remembrance of the Highland Park shooting," Mayor Nancy Rotering said in the announcement. "We have carefully planned events and activities that will allow our community the time and space to remember the seven individuals who were taken from us too soon, opportunities to gather and connect, and provide us with the chance to celebrate Independence Day together as we create new traditions and memories."

The day will begin with a 10 a.m. remembrance ceremony at city hall. It will include a performance by the Highland Park Strings, remarks by Rotering and interfaith clergy, and a moment of silence at 10:14 a.m., when the first shots were fired last year.

The ceremony will be livestreamed on the city's Facebook page and YouTube channel, and the recording will be made available later on the city's website.

A community walk will follow at 11 a.m. along the 2022 parade route. Officials said the walk will symbolize the reclaiming of the town.

The walk will step off from city hall, 1707 St. Johns Ave., and travel north on St. Johns before turning west on Central Avenue and ending at Sunset Woods Park, 1801 Sunset Road. The walk will not include floats or performers. It is intended to be an opportunity for active participation and does not include viewing.

Community members will be encouraged to register in advance for the walk. Details will be available at later this spring. Those who would like to participate but are unable to walk the full route of just under a mile can call the city manager's office at (847) 926-1000.

An community picnic at Sunset Woods Park will begin at 11:30 a.m., with live performances, food and family-friendly games.

"The picnic is an opportunity for families, friends, and neighbors to come together for a relaxing afternoon to enjoy each other's company and our community, while also keeping the tradition of celebrating our country's independence," Highland Park Park District board President Terry Grossberg said in Wednesday's announcement.

In the evening, community members can visit Wolters Field for live music, ice cream novelties and a custom drone show. In consideration of concerns about noise and the city's push for more sustainable alternatives, the annual fireworks display will not be held.

The Bitter Jester Music Festival, which traditionally culminates on July 4 before the fireworks show, instead will take place as part of the Taste of Highland Park on June 25.

Officials said the planning process has included conversations with victims' families and individuals who were injured.

On Wednesday, a grand jury formally indicted the suspect's father, Robert Crimo Jr., 58, on seven counts of reckless conduct. Prosecutors have said he helped his son obtain a gun license years earlier, even though the then-19-year-old had threatened violence.

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