For the first time since its inception, the Rockford Fourth of July parade will travel a different route.
It may not be the first choice for organizers, but there are safety concerns due to the crumbling Hanley building.
“I’m kind of disappointed… But I think good judgment was used in rerouting it.”
Joe Marino, better known as Mr. Fourth of July, isn’t too excited about the parade route changing.
“In 54 years we’ve never had to change the parade route until this year, because of the Hanley fire,” said Marino.
The city forced them to take a different route because of the Hanley building fire that occurred on Sunday.
Even days later, smoke still escaping through shattered windows-and barricades closing down streets surrounding the crumbling building.
The location of the building on the parade route makes it unsafe for people to walk by.
“The area where the parade would normally go, we felt it was best for the public safety issues for citizens of Rockford to be able to come down and enjoy the parade still,” said Kelly Nokes from the City of Rockford. “There’s still loose debris and instability within the building itself.”
But Nokes says it will still be fairly similar.
“Instead of turning west on Chestnut from Wyman Street, the parade will be directed to go west on Elm Street from Wyman Street, and will still end at Church as it has the last four years.,” said Nokes.
Even though the Hanley building will soon come down, it’s a building that holds memories not just for the city.
Marino himself spent 20 years as a salesman in it.
“I was kind of teary eyed when I saw it go up in flames because that was a well-built building,” said Marino. “And of course, they tried to save it but like I said I think they made a wise decision in tearing it down.”
But nostalgia aside, Marino thinks it’s a wise move-and the tradition lives on.
“I started in 1963 for one year, and I’ve been doing it ever since,” said Marino. “It’s a labor of love-it’s my hometown.”
The parade is expected to draw between 75-100,000 spectators.
The fireworks show will go on as scheduled.