The Fourth Traditions

Matilda Swartz, Sophomore, DHS

Every year since me and my sisters were little, I have loved the Highland Park 4th of July Parade! My aunt, uncle, my sisters and I would all go (and probably take way too much free stuff). That day, my aunt and uncle picked us up and we all drove to the parade happy as can be. I remember us parking on the left of Once-Upon-A-Bagel. We walked over to Walker Brothers and sat across the street from it, on the close left side to Ross’s. The bikes went by first. We pointed at the cute dogs and laughed at the cool decorations. My aunt and I were talking the whole time, catching up and laughing. My uncle forgot something in the car when the police cars and bands started to pass, so he went back to the car to grab it. 

Safe from what was about to happen. 

After the bands and police cars had passed, we heard a loud firework-like noise. Someone screamed, and I saw people start joining in with the screams and running. My aunt looked at me, and I will never forget the look in her eyes as she said “Run!”. The middle child out of us three sisters grabbed my arm, and we ran. We hid close by in a corner—full of other people hiding as well. I sat down and my middle sister stood in front of me. I started crying as the shots rang in my ears, and a random lady sat down and started rubbing my leg silently, calming me down. Finally the shots stopped. I heard yelling. I don’t remember what the people were yelling exactly, but they were looking for him. My middle sister said she had seen him and he was on top of the Ross’s holding a big gun and wearing a ski mask. My aunt and youngest sister were the first to find us, the girl in shock with silent tears running down her cheeks. My uncle came running and said he had trouble because everyone was running the other way. 

We were all safe. My aunt, uncle, two little sisters and I were all ok. No one shot, no one hurt physically. I later found out that my youngest sister and my aunt were hiding underneath a fallen chair. Both had seen someone get shot in the head and die. My heartbeat was in my ears by then and I could barely walk. I could tell the worst was done with. While in the car home, we called my parents. They were terrified learning what was going on, and were also relieved to know none of us were hurt. After that call, I started calling all of my friends who lived near or in Highland Park. None were there. My sisters and I hugged and held hands in the car. One hand interlocking with each sister’s. After 20 minutes, we got out at our house. My mother and father almost ran out of the door and hugged all of us. They said that, once we left, they had had a bad feeling, but they knew we were okay. And we were.