There will not be a parade, but the 4th on 53rd Picnic is planned to go on this year in Nichols Park after being cancelled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"It's going to be in-park, an afternoon of family fun consisting of activities that you'll recognize from past park picnics and also a couple of new ones," said organizer Dave White with the Nichols Park Advisory Council. "We're designing it so that it can be spaced in time and physically spaced in the park so that it can maintain both the number of people and their distancing."
There will be a bike-decorating station, a photo booth and lawn games, but no face-painting, petting zoo or bouncy houses. Organizers are extending its footprint further south into Nichols Park, and discussions to get live entertainment are still ongoing.
The date set is Sunday, July 4, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. White said organizers are hoping that people will show up at different times over the holiday; they are considering putting out an Eventbrite online to coordinate attendee arrival.
The organizers' standard special event permit from the Chicago Park District to have the picnic is in process as of Friday; the attendance is currently fluid, but currently, they are asking for 300 attendees to be in Nichols Park at any one time.
"Hopefully the pandemic will continue to lessen and crowd sizes will be permitted to be larger," White said. "The uncertainty around this is unprecedented as we go into this week by week."
No one will be turned away. "So far," White said, "everybody we're talking to has a hankering to get out."
"It's important for community, and it's important for people who have a pent-up desire to get out and celebrate. Especially on this day that we're celebrating independence, that we're celebrating independence from the grip of COVID would be really spectacular," he said.
"This is the beauty about the 4th," White said. "It's one of those holidays that I think we can all agree on and all come together on, regardless of whether your candidate won or lost or whether you completely support all the changes that happened last summer and people wearing mask, or — explain to me why you wouldn't wear a mask, but they're out there.
"I think this is the sort of event that brings everyone together, and hopefully it lets us realign out interests and our desires for the future," he said. "And on a practical note, it's also going to help us bring street life back to 53rd Street, which has taken quite a battering since the last event in 2019."