Daily Herald opinion: South Elgin gets inventive in saving July 4 celebration
So, there are some things we've learned from the pandemic after all.
You surely remember the drive-by birthday parties of 2020 and 2021, at which revelers, safely ensconced in their cars and SUVs, drove past the home of the honoree, horns blaring and streamers streaming.
We didn't allow a deadly virus to stop us from feting someone important to us.
Fast forward to 2022, and faced with another important birthday, South Elgin officials summoned some of that COVID-19 out-of-the-box thinking.
Our Rick West wrote this week that only a third as many participants from a normal South Elgin Fourth of July parade had signed up to march this year, putting the parade in jeopardy.
The village made calls and put the word out on social media that the parade was in need of bands and floats and such.
But it seems after two years without a parade, many people are busying themselves with other things this year. Just 26 entries, said village spokesman Craig Pierce, would amount to a 10-minute parade.
"Everyone is disappointed," Pierce said. "We just didn't get enough participation to make it work."
How satisfying would it be after you had to slog the blankets and lawn chairs out to a prime spot along the parade route only to pack up again after 10 minutes?
And how cost efficient would it be to commit the same amount of resources to closing off streets, providing emergency personnel and police as it would for a full-length parade?
These are the questions South Elgin officials faced.
Rather than disappoint everyone by simply throwing their hands in the air and canceling, they came up with a different way to celebrate the nation's 246th birthday.
In a reversal of the drive-by birthday concept, the village is inviting residents to meet up at Panton Mill Park for a concert and picnic instead.
The South Elgin High School Marching Storm, which had already committed to be in the parade, will perform at the park's soundstage.
The other two dozen participants have been invited to park their floats and decorated cars at the park. The bonus here is that parade participants can do a lot more than wave to the crowd. They can actually talk to them.
"I think that what we're going to do is still going to be a very welcoming celebration," Pierce said.
Kudos to South Elgin for turning lemons into lemonade. We hope this picnic reminds residents that the Fourth of July is always worth celebrating. Here's to more entries next year so the parade can go on.