Independence Day is on a Wednesday this year, so I figured that holiday celebrations would be spread out over the weekend before and into July 4 itself. Turns out I was nearly totally wrong. You'll have to make some tough choices for how to spend July 4, but there are a couple of options the weekend ahead and weekend after, too.
AURORA: The city of Aurora features an Independence Day parade on Wednesday, July 4, that will step off at 10 a.m. at the corner of Benton and River Streets. It will march east to Broadway, north to Galena, west to Hoyt, south to Downer and conclude heading west to Middle Avenue. The evening celebrations resolve around the Illinois Math & Science Academy at 1500 W. Sullivan Road. There will be local food vendors from 5 p.m. to 10 a.m., free inflatable rides for children from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and activities and games from the Aurora Historical Society from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Three different bands will perform: The Bradley Keven Green Band at 5:30 p.m., the American Legion Post 84 Band at 6:30 p.m. and the Captains of Industry at 8 p.m. The fireworks will get underway at 9:30 p.m. Check this site for a list of addresses where free shuttle buses will pick you up for delivery to the IMSA campus.
BATAVIA: The Batavia "Sky Concert" is scheduled for 9:30 p..m. Wednesday, July 4. The audience is invited to watch the show from Enstrom Park at the corner of Main and Millview streets, or from the Batavia High School athletic fields on West Main Street. The park opens at 5 pm. with food vendors; at 7 p.m. the band Automatic Fixx will perform.
CANTIGNY: Cantigny in Wheaton offers a number of free events and free parking on Wednesday, July 4. The Robert R. McCormick Museum will host arts and crafts on the mansion's south porch starting at noon. On the parade field, Revolutionary War reenactors will supervise 18th-century games. Kids can also add their "John Hancocks" to a replica of the Declaration of Independence. There will be inflatables for sliding and jumping, and magic shows at 12:30 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. The Southwest Community Concert band will perform at 3 p.m. in front of the First Division Museum.
ELGIN: The city of Elgin, along with the villages of Hanover Park, Hanover Township and Hoffman Estates, have joined together for the "Northwest Fourth-Fest," which is being billed as the "Northwest Suburbs' largest Fourth of July celebration." It is being held July 4 through July 8 outside the Sears Centre Area in Hoffman Estates. It will feature food vendors, a beer garden, musical entertainment, carnival rides, pony rides and children's activities. The fireworks will be held on Wednesday, July 4, at 9:30 p.m. For a full calendar of daily events, visit the Fourth-Fest website. Admission to the festival is free.
GENEVA: The Kane County Cougars will play the Quad Cities River Bandits at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 4. The Jesse White Tumblers will perform, and there will be fireworks after the game.
LISLE: The Lisle Eyes to the Sky Festival runs from June 29 through July 1. The balloons are scheduled to fly each day at 6 a.m. and at 6 p.m. At 8 p.m. each night, the balloons will be tethered to the ground, but turn on their burners occasionally, so they "glow" against the night sky. In addition, this festival has a carnival and bags tournament, plus a busy children's area, with a lumberjack show, princess and pirate parties, guitar lessons, craft and coloring tables, animal shows and art room. Fireworks are scheduled for June 29, June 30 and July 1, beginning at 9:45 p.m each night. The show on July 1 will be timed with a musical score.
ST. CHARLES: The celebrations in St. Charles revolve around Pottawatomie Park, where there will be picnicking, miniature golf, concessions and swimming during the day on Wednesday, July 4. The Fox Valley Concert Band will perform from 4 p.m. to 5:30 pm. in the amphitheater. The rock band Red Woody will play the pavilion from 6 p.m. the dark. The fireworks will be held the evening of July 4, and are best viewed from Pottawatomie Park or Ferson Creek Park. If there's bad weather, the fireworks will be held until the next clear evening.
SOUTH ELGIN: The village of South Elgin hosts an Independence Day parade that will kick off at 10 a.m. on July 4 at the corner of Spring Street and Wedgewood Drive. Here's a map of the route; it proceeds east on State Street and crosses the river and eventually ends on Fulton Street.
WHEATON: The city of Wheaton celebrates the holiday over two days. On Tuesday, July 3, there will be food vendors, a DJ and carnival rides starting at 5:30 p.m. at Graf Park. The fireworks will be viewable from Graf Park and the DuPage County Fairgrounds at dusk on July 3. On Wednesday, July 4, Wheaton will host a parade with the theme of "Snapshots of America." It gets underway in downtown at 10 a.m. from Hawthorne and Main streets and concludes at Front and Cross streets. Here's a detailed map of the route. UPDATE: The Wheaton celebrations on both July 3 and July 4 have been canceled because of the severe storm that hit the area on July 1.