By Debbie Mosley
Medill-Northwestern Journalism Institute
One-man watering station Mike Hasanov shoots a burst of water toward a group of children in the street. Soaked, they dance in the cloud of cool droplets before thanking Hasanov and moving onward. The children were from one of many organizations with floats in Evanston’s 91st annual Fourth of July parade.
“Do you want to get wet?” Firefighter Hasanov asks the next group of performers. The dancers give him the affirmative, then yelp as he blasts them with cool water. His gleeful smile echoes the dancers’ as they prance away. Hasanov turns his head to give his colleagues a knowing look.
Although he was not in uniform and was technically on vacation, he showed that he takes his job with Station No. 3 seriously.
“On my day off, I came here with my family, and we’re spraying the people of Evanston to keep them cool. It’s extremely hot today,” he says, eyes sweeping the area for those in need a dousing.
According to the National Weather Service, Wednesday was the hottest Fourth of July that the Chicago-area has seen since 1911—before the birth of the parade. Attendees flocked to shade. Many held umbrellas, wore floppy sunhats and frequented the watering stations provided by local businesses.
“We’ve become a pretty smart and proactive society when it comes to the parade as I’ve seen in the past and have taken measures to protect ourselves,” said Evanston Fire Department Capt. Paul Polep. “The city has taken extra measures this year with cooling stations…they’ve opened up almost every business for cooling stations, there are a couple organizations handing out water, and we’ve opened up a sprinkler station.”
The sprinkling station, manned by Hasanov, was a popular spot for a spray down.
“Some of them don’t like it, but that’s OK,” Hasanov says of the performers in the parade. “It’s not a job. I’m here to enjoy the city on my day off. I’m doing this for fun.”
Hasanov planned to take his family to dinner in downtown Evanston before heading to Lake Michigan for the fireworks.
Debbie Mosley is a high school student from Detroit Country Day in Michigan participating in a five-week journalism program with Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.