Highland Park parade shooting has some Naperville event organizers reviewing their security – Chicago Tribune
West Suburban Irish’s Paul Santucci said he wants his organization’s executive board to review safety protocols for the upcoming Naperville Irish Fest and its annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade after the mass shooting at Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade.
“We need to have a meeting to revisit security as a whole and discuss options,” Santucci said.
Organizers of the events like the Naperville Irish Fest, India Day and the Memorial Day parade say they rely heavily on the expertise of the Naperville Police Department when planning for the safety of those who participate or attend.
After the Waukesha Christmas parade attack in November 2021, when an SUV driver plowed through a barricade, killing six and injuring 62, the city set up concrete barriers and large municipal trucks to prevent vehicles from entering parade routes, Santucci said.
West Suburban Irish is one of several groups that typically request money from Naperville’s Special Events and Community Art grant fund to pay for city services, such as police protection and crowd control, fire and rescue service, and public works barricade setup and removal, he said .
They may seek more funding for security in the future, he said.
“It’s unfortunate that our country’s come to this,” Santucci said.
The Fourth of July shooting was personal for Santucci because his brother lives a few blocks from where the Highland Park attack occurred.
A Naperville Township trustee, Santucci said he was marching in the Brookdale neighborhood’s Fourth of July parade as the Republican candidate for the 42nd District Illinois House seat, when his brother texted him about the shooting and to let him know he was OK.
“I didn’t know how horrific it was until later,” Santucci said.
While his brother did not witness the shooting, he did see people in a panic fleeing the parade route, he said.
The shooting has caused Santucci to rethink his own safety as well as that of people attending events in the city.
As far as attending other area parades to promote his candidacy, Santucci said he will be more cautious moving forward.
Krishna Bansal, chairman and CEO of Indian Community Outreach, said he doesn’t expect any changes to India Day scheduled Aug. 14 at Rotary Park because Naperville police will be on the alert.
This year’s festival and parade, which celebrates Indian culture and heritage, will mark the 75th anniversary of India’s independence.
Bansal said he’s confident in the security plan from the Naperville Police Department. If anything, organizers might increase the number of private security officers they use, he said.
“We live in a very safe area,” Bansal said.
Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873’s Tom Parker, who organizes the Memorial Day parade with American Legion Post 43, said the Highland Park shooting is a stark reminder that random acts can occur anywhere.
“It’s always in the back of our minds,” Parker said.
A police representative is part of the planning committee to ensure the safety of participants and parade watchers, he said.
“I think we plan for the best we can,” Parker said. “We plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
Naperville police were unavailable for comment.