The Northbrook 4th of July Association, Inc. became an Illinois Not-For-Profit Corporation on June 20, 1968. Since
that time, Independence Day festivities have been planned and brought to you by a group of dedicated community volunteers. The
Association raises tens of thousands of dollars each year to bring you a day-long event, filled with fun and
activities for all ages.

For many years, the 4th of July parades in Northbrook were small and not well-attended. In 1966, a new way to
celebrate was devised, and Northbrook made national news because of the way we celebrated Independence Day that year. According to a newspaper article from 1966, the parade in 1949 had drawn only 150 spectators.  17 years later, the parade of 1966 had more than 1500 individuals actually marching in the parade. That year, Northbrook made national news by marching 1,000 transistor radios.  Radios carried by Park District, YMCA, scouting, civic and neighborhood groups as they paraded from Greenbriar School to the Village Green. The radios were tuned into a local radio station playing patriotic music. This “bandless” parade drew an estimated 22,000 spectators and was planned by Kenneth Thiel, who was then the North Suburban YMCA General Secretary. The parade was featured on WMAQ-TV news with Floyd Kalber, on the national NBC Huntley / Brinkley Report on July 4, 1966, and on The Today Show the following morning.

The parade was such a success that it was repeated in 1967.

In addition to the annual parade, Northbrook’s 4th of July also has featured a fireworks program, which began in 1956 when the Northbrook Jaycees planned the display. The 11th, and final, Jaycee-sponsored fireworks program was held in 1967.  In 1968, the Northbrook 4th of July Association took over, planning the parade and the fireworks program.

Another favorite event, “Breakfast in the Park” was added as part of the American Bicentennial festivities of 1976. The breakfast has become a tradition
for thousands of Northbrook families ever since.

An ice cream social was held for the first time in 2006 in conjunction with Park Fest.


In case you didn’t know, a different theme is chosen for Northbrook’s 4th of July parade each year, and a community member or organization is chosen to act as grand marshal, as seen in the table below:

YearThemeGrand Marshall
1968Theme unknown for 1968
1969Let’s Sing Out, Sing Out For America
1970This Land is Your Land
1971America the Beautiful
1973An Old Fashioned 4th
1974It’s A Small World
1975This Land is Our Land
1976Freedom’s Way – U.S.A.
1977On the Road to Happiness
1978Close Encounters of the 4th
1979Games People Play
1980The Great Outdoors
1981Friends and Neighbors
1982Fun With the Red, White and Blue
1983Salute Our Volunteers
1984Spirit of AmericaMr. & Mrs. Ed Rudolph
1985Let’s Have an Old-Fashioned 4thDr. & Mrs. Homer O. Harvey
1986Our Land of LibertyBert Pollak
1987We the PeopleDaniel J. Walker
1988. . . Of the PeopleDavid Cruickshank & Andy Gabel
1989. . . By The PeopleJoe Doud
1990Marching Into The 90sKen Thiel
1991To Honor Those Who ServedBruce Hoover, Norbert Gumbinger, and Vets
1992Demonstrate DemocracyDr. E. James Duffy
1993Celebrating FreedomMarcia Doniger
1994Northbrook – An American OriginalDavid Cruickshank, Andy Gabel, Herman Lorenz, Louie Werhane
1995The Tradition ContinuesDan & Toni Walker
1996Let Freedom Ring!Ron Bernardi
1997A Family 4thJoe Doud
1998Pride in Old GloryWally Kruse
1999On to the MilenniumJudith Hughes
2000[email protected]Ron Christensen
2001The Fabric of Our HistoryShermerville Kids – residents born in Shermerville
2002Proud To Be An AmericanPark District and Library Boards
2003Red, White & Blue Celebrates
With Green & Gold
Original GBN Staff
2004Great Traditions – A Grand TimeNorthbrook Civic Foundation
2005Northbrook Salutes Pride in AmericaLona N. Louis
2006Diversity Makes U.S. StrongDon Hintz and Jack Coombe
2007Honoring America’s HeroesBernie Schmidt
2008Red, White, Blue and Northbrook GreenEd Harvey & John Novinson
2009Northbrook Celebrates FreedomNorthbrook Woman’s Club
2010Making A Difference Through ServiceThe Scouts of Northbrook
© Copyright 2023 - Northbrook History Museum & Heritage Center Archives. All Rights Reserved.