Waukegan 4th of July parade 2022 honors first responders after held virtually during COVID pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) — The Fourth of July holiday weekend is in full swing! There are fun events happens all around the Chicago area, like the Waukegan parade Sunday.

The parade’s theme this year was hometown heroes, as a way to honor first responders and frontline healthcare workers for their countless sacrifices during the COVID pandemic.

It was also the first time in two years Waukegan has thrown a full parade and residents were thrilled to have it back.

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The parade was massive and rolled around 1 p.m. It featured over 100 different organizations, from the Waukegan High School JROTC, to the mayor’s office.

Even the popular Jesse White Tumbling Team made an appearance.

Waukegan residents and guests lined Sheridan Road as the floats rolled on by, serving as a sign that life seems to be returning to normal after the pandemic.

“It’s terrific. It’s really why we were excited to move here and get involved in the community and living right here on Sheridan Road, it’s nice it’s finally coming back. It’s a huge day for all the kids,” said parade-goer Ryan Remsing.

It’s an annual tradition he’s grateful to enjoy once again.

“I think the past few years have been really tough for all the first responders as far as doctors, ambulance crews. With what happened with COVID, it’s been a rough few years and I do think we need to celebrate them and encourage them,” he added.

Sofia Delgado was with her family at the parade. It’s a moment she isn’t taking for granted.

“It feels cool, it actually feels kind of crazy because we were in our house with the pandemic and everything and it feels really cool to be back out here,” she said.

“You see all the people lined here. That tells you everything. They support our fire department, our police department our nurses. Look, vista is the grand marshal. It doesn’t get better than that,” said Waukegan Mayor Ann Taylor.

Waukegan Police Chief Keith Zupec is also back to his normal parade duties of dishing out badges to future officers.

“I’m not new to law enforcement, so to see the support the past couple of years with the difficulties the country has had with COVID and the pandemic, it’s great to see the support here for us,” he said.

It’s a celebration of freedom, sacrifice and service. A parade we can all march in.

Due to the pandemic, the Waukegan Park District held virtual Fourth of July parades in 2020 and 2021. Those virtual parades reached over 18,000 people on Facebook and YouTube. But nothing beats an in-person parade, especially with this beautiful weather.

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