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Blue Island is bringing back its 4th of July parade for 2024

Blue Island residents still remember when the Fourth of July was a big deal.

For 150 years, city and community-based clubs have been organizing Independence Day celebrations with entertainment, festivities and fireworks. But budget cuts and leadership changes halted investment in the parade and fireworks display nearly two decades ago, leaving residents with only memories of a beloved tradition, the city government said Friday.

“People bring this up all the time, especially if you’ve been in the city — as a kid or something,” Mayor Fred Bilotto said. “Most people remember this, even if they were young.”

Blue Island’s connection to the Fourth of July festivities is engraved in the town’s history books and is included in the book “The First Hundred Years, 1835 – 1935: A History of Blue Island” by John Volp.

“July 4th was the big day,” writes Volp. “This holiday seemed to be made especially for volunteer firefighters, and on this day the ‘department’ was out in all its might and greatest glory.”

Oak Forest

The Chicago Stockyard Kilty Band, which performed at the 13th annual Oak Forest Fleadh family parade, will perform at Blue Island’s 2024 Fourth of July parade. (Oak Forest City)

Volp described a band led by the Fire Department, an elaborate parade and a large presence out front.

Bilotto said conversations with residents confirmed that infrastructure and safety are still top priorities.

“We have a lot of problems rather than bringing back the parade. “But now it’s my third year and we’ve gotten some things done,” he said, noting that the beautification process has been groundbreaking, especially on a 2-mile-long section of Western Avenue. “Now we move on to the smaller issues that people want (to see) the parade come back.”

This first year may not be exactly like the “big day” Volp describes. The city government has warned of a return to the proposals and hopes this will be the first of many years of a renewed tradition.

The parade will begin at noon on July 4th and continue south from 123rd Street to Grove Street.

Then, fireworks will be launched at Şelale Park at 21.00.

“People wanted it,” City Clerk Raeann Zylman said.

Floats, businesses and groups signed up, including locally famous bagpipers the Stockyard Kilty Band. Zylman said they receive about one registration per week, but there is room for more applications.

hsanders@chicagotribune.com

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