Surviving the Fourth of July assignment

Uncle Sam walked through the Fourth of July parade in his patriotic suit. Photo by Lynn Yang

Cherubs survived hours under the scorching sun and an estimated 6 miles of walking to complete their first on-the-street interviews at Evanston’s Fourth of July parade.

Angie Chung of Seoul, South Korea, said the hot weather exceeded her imagination, breaking her summer record of heat endurance. Before the parade, Chung packed the essentials, including her water bottle and a notepad but left her sunglasses and hat behind.

“I expected it to be hot, but I wasn’t expecting that kind of heat,” Chung said. “I left my hat in Seoul. I thought a journalism camp would not require us to go outside.”

Chung advised future cherubs to prepare physically and mentally for frequent outdoor activities.

“Pack a hat, or even two, in case one gets soaked,” Chung said.

Chung’s story focused on Evanston as a service-oriented community, with people taking the parade theme—a salute to community volunteers—to heart. The Fourth of July assignment was Chung’s first time approaching strangers on the street, which pushed her to overcome her fear and prepared her for assignments to come.

Anna Mullins of West Chester, Ohio, said careful packing is essential before setting off to the parade. Mullins was in a hurry and left her water bottle behind, resulting in an afternoon of thirst on Central Street.

“I was super unprepared,” Mullins said. “I had my notebook, my phone, a pencil, but no water bottle.”

Mullins covered two 5-year-old twins running a lemonade stand to donate money to a local food bank. The lack of water worsened when Mullins had to track down a source, “stalking a lady” who was carrying the stand’s table for two blocks.

Mullins said the assignment taught her how to talk to people and capture gem quotes under uncomfortable conditions.

Kevin Du of Hangzhou, China, recalled wishing he had a fan. He was glad he had worn sunscreen. A cross-country runner at his high school, Du said the walking distance could be intimidating. Du added that future cherubs should pack only the essentials for the parade assignment.

Upon observing the difficult tasks the volunteers and Evanston police officers took on, Du wrote about the volunteers’ experience and focused on the daily lives of the officers. He learned about the lives of local volunteers and people helping to maintain safety. Du said the story turned him from an observer into an active journalist.