Skokie Review: Fourth Parade brings 'largest crowd ever' to downtown Skokie


Not too hot, not too cold, all dry and a bunch of families with smiling children — the recipe for a successful Fourth of July parade if there ever was one.

The Skokie Fourth of July Parade Committee could not have asked for a better environment, it said, as Oakton Street was lined several rows deep for the annual Fourth of July parade Monday.

Right up until the last minute, Committee Chairman Alan Gerstner said, the parade was adding to its itinerary. Although packed with celebrity and military grand marshals and special guests, the parade made room for one more big one late in the planning stages:

Jonathan Kite of the CBS hit comedy “Two Broke Girls” rode in the parade, joining a long list of other dignitaries, celebrities, politicians and military men and women. They included Karen Jordan, news anchor at WLS Channel 7 and Christian Farr, news reporter at NBC Channel 5, as parade grand marshals; Roger Baldesch from WGN Radio as reviewing stand announcer; and CBS Channel 2 meteorologist Ed Curran and well-known radio personality Catherine Johns as featured guests.

Retired Col. Jill Morgenthaler served as the military grand marshal of the parade, Sgt. Eduardo Villarreal as the second military grand marshal and Lt. Bill Klopsch as the third military grand marshall.

Gerstner said more than 1,650 people, well over 100 units, were expected to participate in the parade — many more than last year.

Before the event, the chairman said that he hoped to see some 6,000 people in downtown for one of the largest parades Skokie has ever thrown. There was not an official count, but after the parade, the committee posted on its Facebook page just what a successful turnout there was.

“Wow! What a Parade!,” it said. “Thank you to the thousands of people that came out to the Skokie Fourth of July parade. This was the largest crowd ever. Thank you for making our parade the best parade in Chicagoland.”

Twitter @SKReview_Mike

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Howard Meyer Skokie Chamber
Maxwell Street Klezmer Band

Join me at Downtown Skokie's Wednesdays on the Green TONIGHT with the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band

The Maxwell Street Klezmer Band will play at 7PM on August 7th.

Maxwell Street Klezmer Band
All the Wednesdays on the Green events begin at 7PM and are held on the Village Green.
The Village Green is located in between the Skokie Public Library and Skokie Village Hall on Oakton Street.
Plenty of free parking all around the event.


What is Maxwell Street?
Maxwell Street was to Chicago what the Lower East Side was to New York. At the turn of the century, when the first wave of immigrants came to America, Maxwell Street became famous for its open-air Sunday marketplace crowded with Jewish pushcart peddlers, creating a carnival atmosphere enjoyed by Chicagoans and visitors alike. Like the Yiddish theater of yesteryear, a performance of the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band brings the optimism, pathos, irony, zest for life, and unique humor of the American Jewish immigrant to the modern stage.

Band Biography
In 1983, before klezmer music gained its recent popularity, Lori Lippitz founded the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band. Working within the Chicago Jewish community, the band reintroduced traditional dance music to weddings and other Jewish celebrations. Over the years, the band has performed on stages across the country (including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center) and played nine tours in Europe. Their third CD, You Should Be So Lucky!, is one of the ten best-selling klezmer recordings in America.

Maxwell Street is:

  • The founder of the Klezmer Music Foundation and organizer of the Midwest Klezmer and Yiddish Music Institute (since 1995) at the Kaplan JCC, the Midwest’s only annual forum for klezmer and Yiddish music workshops. The Institute attracts over 800 participants a year and trains musicians of all ages.
  • The sponsor of the Chicago Junior Klezmer Orchestra, a training ground for young klezmer musicians, since 1993
  • A founding partner of the Yiddish Arts Ensemble, scoring and staging original English-language musicals based upon Yiddish folklore.
  • On the roster of the Illinois Arts Council Artstour of recommended performers.

The Style
Clarinet, saxophone, violin, trumpet, trombone, piano, bass and percussion make up the band, rounded out by a duet of female singers. Musical Director Alex Koffman spices the band’s potpourri of Yiddish songs, dance and theater music with his original arrangements, inspired by his classical and jazz background. With its big band instrumentation, Maxwell Street moves easily among various styles: Russian and gypsy music, folk songs, theater songs and Yiddish pop songs from the 1920′s-50′s. Their performance creates a multi-dimensional picture of the lost Jewish culture of Eastern Europe, spiced with vignettes of America seen through immigrant eyes.