Highland Park residents walk parade route where 7 were killed in Fourth of July shooting

Jul 3, 2023, 9:03 PM | Updated: Jul 4, 2023, 2:30 pm

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (AP) — One year after a shooter terrorized July Fourth paradegoers in Highland Park, community members gathered Tuesday to honor the seven people who were killed, commemorate the day and reclaim the space to move forward.

The city hosted a series of events aimed at giving people an opportunity to heal together. But even as hundreds of residents of the Chicago suburb convened to honor their fallen, singing the National Anthem in unison softly, fresh spate of gun violence.

Highland Park officials said they approached the event planning with a trauma-informed perspective.

“Nobody wanted a parade. It was inappropriate,” Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering said. “But it was important for us to say that evil doesn’t win. And this is our parade route, and this is our community that we are taking back.”

Hundreds gathered for a Remembrance Ceremony at City Hall that included remarks from Rotering and several spiritual leaders, a musical performance and a moment of silence. Many wore matching blue shirts — the local high school’s color — that read, “We Are Highland Park.”

Attendees then walked last year’s parade route together.

The events offered no floats, performers or giveaways.

Jessica Morales, Kevin Flynn, and their two small children attended the parade last year, and scrambled inside a nearby store when they shooting began. “It was really scary,” Morales said.

They returned this year to pay their respects to the people who died and “not ignore the holiday, but remember what happened, and take the positive,” said Morales, as the couple’s 5-year-old and 1-year-old, decked out in red, white and blue, explored the busy, grassy expanse outside City Hall after the ceremony.

“We just want to keep the memory alive of what happened. It will always be with us. That’s why we come to events like this,” Morales said.

Mietra Namdari walked the half-mile parade route with her three children, 13, 11 and 7, pointing out law enforcement officers positioned on rooftops, as the shooter had been.

“They’re here to keep us safe,” she told her children.

Molly Dillon, 34, grew up in Highland Park and said she missed last year’s parade but has attended more than 25 times — “almost every year it wasn’t pouring down rain,” added Dillon’s father, Robert. This year, Molly wore a white T-shirt that said “gun control now.”

“It’s completely normal to walk that parade route. I’ve walked in it, I’ve watched it. And it’s also completely surreal and totally strange because this context is new for us,” Dillon said.

At night, the city planned to have a drone show instead of fireworks to avoid the noise that could sound like gunfire, Rotering said.

“I recognize for so many in our community, it’s too soon.”

Security was tight: Attendees had to register before each event, show a QR code and pass through security.

The day’s events were “a good way to celebrate, but remember, at the same time,” said Flynn, his young daughter in his arms.


Savage is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

United States News

Associated Press

Shooting kills 3 people including a young child in a car on an Alabama street

Three people including a young child were killed when their car was targeted with multiple gunshots outside a residence in Birmingham, Alabama, on Saturday evening. The Birmingham Police Department said in a social media post that a triple homicide investigation was underway in the 3400 Block of 27th Street North. The police said officers responded […]

43 minutes ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is covered by U.S. Secret Service a...

Associated Press

The Secret Service is investigating how a gunman who shot and injured Trump was able to get so close

The Secret Service is investigating how a gunman was able to get close enough to shoot at former President Donald Trump at a rally Saturday.

1 hour ago

Carlton Smith, left, and Justin Nimmo pose in from of the console of the Barton Opus 234 theater or...

Associated Press

Reviving Hollywood glamor of the silent movie era, experts piece together a century-old pipe organ

DETROIT (AP) — A massive pipe organ that underscored the drama and comedy of silent movies with live music in Detroit’s ornate Hollywood Theatre nearly a century ago was dismantled into thousands of pieces and stashed away. The Barton Opus, built in 1927, spent four decades stored in a garage, attic and basement in suburban […]

3 hours ago

FILE - Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, left, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator ...

Associated Press

Can a Medicaid plan that requires work succeed? First year of Georgia experiment is not promising

ATLANTA (AP) — By now, Georgia officials expected their new Medicaid plan, the only one in the nation with a work requirement, to provide health insurance to 25,000 low-income residents and possibly tens of thousands more. But a year since its launch, Pathways to Coverage has roughly 4,300 members, much lower than what state officials […]

3 hours ago

Catherine Ward, owner of One Acre Farms, a functioning educational farm to help special needs kids,...

Associated Press

After Beryl, Houston-area farmers pull together to face unique challenges

PORTER, Texas (AP) — Hurricanes cause trouble for everyone, but farmers have a whole other list of problems. Beryl has been no exception: Over the past week, the storm damaged crops, soaked rabbits and chickens, terrified goats, put horses at risk of developing colic and left cows without fences to keep them penned in. And […]

3 hours ago

Debris from the Titan submersible, recovered from the ocean floor near the wreck of the Titanic, is...

Associated Press

The first Titanic voyage in 14 years is happening in the wake of submersible tragedy. Hopes are high

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The company that owns the salvage rights to the Titanic is undertaking its first expedition to the ship’s wreckage in years, and those involved in the mission said they have both heavy hearts and lofty goals for a trip happening a year after a submersible disaster involving another firm killed five […]

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.


Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.



Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

Highland Park residents walk parade route where 7 were killed in Fourth of July shooting