It was an exciting day for Hope on Thursday, July 2. Batman and SpongeBob were sighted on the premises. Firefighters, medics and police officers were walking the streets. The superhero youth were taking campus by storm. And all of this was caused by one culprit, Hope’s Fourth of July celebration!

Spectators were able to witness a spectacle like no other in the annual Fourth of July Parade. The line-up included members of the Illinois National Guard, Lady Liberty, SpongeBob, Batman, Zahara dancers, Roy Moore on his tractor, our scout troops, and of course our youth with their decorated floats. Even some Springfield and Sangamon County police officers, firefighters and medics lent a hand with the celebration.

“Events such as our Fourth of July parade are a great way for our youth to broaden their social skills, engage in creativity, and learn about significant holidays we celebrate,” said Hope Director of Outreach Cory Blissett. “The parade is also a wonderful opportunity to reach out to organizations such as the Illinois National Guard so they can become strong partners and advocates for The Hope Institute.”

The parade was themed “American Heroes,” and kicked off mid-morning with the route starting at the Administration circle drive and ending at the Learning Center.

The celebration continued with a party held in the gym that afternoon.  Participants enjoyed some popcorn and popsicles while watching Disney’s “Big Hero 6.” Overall, both the parade and the party were great ways for the youth to enjoy the holiday.

“Our Fourth of July party was also a chance for our youth to have fun and engage in social time.  Being able to bring the theater to our youth allows for a simulated movie theater environment that ensures safety while producing fun,” said Blissett. “Seeing a gym full of students seated, engaged, and interested in a film on the big screen for a long period of time is a monumental accomplishment for many of our youth.”