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Collections Cameo, July 2015

Lake Bluff Fourth of July Parade Book, 1976

This 100-page program documents Lake Bluff’s Fourth of July festivities in 1976 – the Village’s 81st celebration. Because 1976 was also our nation’s Bicentennial, both patriotism and historical commemorations were especially rampant that year.

The program was published by Lake Bluff American Legion Post 510, led by Commander Charles David Maley (Mildred J. Maley was president of the Auxiliary). That year the Lake Bluff Legion was making a concerted effort to gather the names of “all the men and women who entered the service from Knollwood and Lake Bluff in the last three wars” (World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War), and raising money to update the war memorial accordingly. To help with this effort, the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Kiwanis Club held a Bicentennial Breakfast on July 4 in the Village Green. Suggested donations were $3.00 for adults and $2.00 for children under 12.

Also celebrating an anniversary in 1976 were the Lake Bluff Methodists: “100 years ago, on July 6, 1876, the Methodist tabernacle, built to seat 2500, was completed and dedicated by the Lake Bluff Camp Meeting Association. The large frame structure was built on the block bounded by Moffett, Prospect and Ravine avenues.” To commemorate, Grace United Methodist Church held a United Worship Service on Sunday, July 4 at 9 a.m.

The program features dozens of advertisements, but one of the most notable is the very first one (at right). “Lake Bluff Residents,” it says, “Start off your weekend in a grand manner, and meet your neighbors at the: 1st ANNUAL LAKE BLUFF FIREMEN’S BALL.” This took place at Harrison House on Green Bay Road, with music by the “Warlock.”

The parade theme for 1976 was “Bicentennial Salute” – Honorary Parade Marshalls were Representative Robert McClory and “All World War Veterans of Lake Bluff Post 510.” In addition to the parade was the carnival, sponsored by the Town and Tennis Club. Among the carnival booths were Add-a-Dart, Animal Fair, Cane Rack, Cat Game, Duck Pond, Huckley Bucket, Milk Bottles, Kerdunker, Train/Ferris Wheel, and more. There was also a baking contest, a sewing and needlework contest, footraces, an egg catch (father-daughter or mother-son teams) and a balloon release. (You could purchase a postcard, fill out your name, tie it to your balloon, and let it go at the mass release at 3:15 p.m. – then, “Prizes of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd [were] presented to the participant who [had] a card returned from the farthest distance by July 19.”) Finally, there was the Queen contest: Karen Clodfelter, Kathy Hart, Cathy Matiya, Sara Means and Kari Moreland competed to be crowned Queen of Lake Bluff’s July 4 celebration. (Kathy Hart reigned victorious.)

Beyond the Fourth, the program included a schedule of events for the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Bicentennial Celebration, which lasted from July 2 (the Firemen’s Ball) through August 4 (Lake Forest Day). For instance, on July 11, the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Historical Society held an ice cream social and walking tour at Triangle Park. On July 17, the local Masons offered an “All-American Feast” served buffet style, with baked beans and apple pie, at their Lodge at 361 E. Westminster. July 24 bore witness to the APT’s “1776 Market Day,” including a cow milking context, in Market Square.

Finally, the program listed everyone who had contributed to the Lake Bluff Village Green Gazebo Fund, which was still in the fund-raising phase, although shortly to become a reality, since the Village Board approved the project on March 3 and the Architectural Review board had approved the drawings. Calling it “A Living Monument to Our Town,” the program states that the gazebo “is an idea that began partly in nostalgia – partly in the spirit of our Bicentennial – part in a desire to create an active yet graceful structure that would be useful to present Lake Bluffers – and appropriate to our citizens of the future.” (See below for more on the gazebo.)