Public should be vigilant at events, authorities say, after Highland Park shooting
Fireworks and other events were canceled as a sign of unity and in respect for the victims in Monday's Highland Park shooting.
Most suburban Independence Day parades Monday started and were at or near completion before the shooting occurred and the terrible news had spread. But going forward, it is a given authorities will be examining security measures as public events and gatherings throughout the suburbs resume as scheduled.
On Friday and Saturday, for example, large crowds are expected in downtown Waukegan for Scoop Waukegan, a popular event featuring "cool cars, great food and live entertainment."
"The city of Waukegan does not share specific security plans for major events but can confirm there will be increased security compared to previous Waukegan Scoop events," a city spokesman said.
A parade that had been scheduled Sunday as part of West Chicago Railroad Days also was canceled to protect the public and out of respect for those in Highland Park, according to Daniel Peck, the city's marketing and communications coordinator.
"It's based primarily on an abundance of caution to protect the West Chicago community from any potential copycat scenarios," he said of the decision late Wednesday afternoon.
The rest of Railroad Days, which is returning after a two-year hiatus, will not be affected, he added. It features a carnival, live music and other activities Thursday through Sunday at Pioneer Park.
In Glenview, the return after two years of the traditional Independence Day Parade was postponed when news of the Highland Park shooting broke.
Parade participants were lined up and ready. Whether the parade will be rescheduled is to be determined.
"We haven't discussed it. No decisions have been made," said Anna Ables, spokesperson for the Glenview Park District. Proceeding this year poses a number of questions, she added.
Coming up with contingencies for various situations is common practice among communities in event planning, Vernon Hills Police Chief Patrick Kreis said.
For the annual Fourth of July parade, for example, police compiled a 10-page special order including a map, assignments and an action plan in case of extreme weather or other situations, Kreis said.
Similar preparations are in place for Vernon Hills Days (formerly Summer Celebration), which runs July 14-17 at Century Park. The long-running festival features free concerts and myriad activities and is considered one of the largest events of its kind in Lake County.
"There will be adjustments if warranted," Kreis said. "Every time there is a tragedy, we're reviewing that and saying, 'Is there something we can do?' to modify security."
He said there already is a "very robust safety and security plan" in place for Vernon Hills Days that is tailored every year. Evidence emerging from the Highland Park situation will be taken into account, Kreis said.
The message remains constant for festivalgoers.
"We ask the public to stay vigilant," Kreis said. Anyone who sees odd or unusual behavior should share the information with authorities at the event or call 911.
"Tell us what you see and why it makes you feel suspicious," Kreis said. "Trust your instincts."