February Blizzard Not Forgotten in July

A year after its COVID-19 cancellation, the Rotary Club of Park Cities Fourth of July Parade will return in all of its patriotic glory plus a wintery mix.

HPDPS officer Alex Tacey reaches for a dog that fell into frigid water.

Setting this year’s apart from past parades, organizers are dedicating it to Park Cities’ municipal employees and frontline workers for their service during the pandemic and this year’s blizzard.

“We are very appreciative of the community’s ongoing support and the Rotary Club acknowledging how hard our staff members — both the city and the town — worked during the February storm,” said Steve Mace, University Park’s director of communications and marketing.

The unaffectionately dubbed “Snowmageddon” brought many problems to Park Cities residents and challenges for their municipal employees.

As temperatures dipped into record-breaking lows, the freeze blustered in issues exacerbated by the state’s power grid failure: frozen pipes, broken water mains, and widespread damage to homes that not even the winter wonderland outside could mitigate.

Employees of the city of University Park and town of Highland Park fielded enormous call volumes, responded to requests for water meter shut-offs, and mobilized to repair broken water mains.

In University Park, employees braved frigid temperatures, worked 12-hour shifts, and fixed 56 broken water mains throughout the six days of the winter storm.  

Highland Park employees also worked 12-hour shifts, tackling meter disconnects, water line repairs, and a rescue call for a dog who fell into a frozen creek while chasing a duck onto the ice.

Thankfully, Highland Park Department of Public Safety officers Alex Tacey, Justin Davis, Tim Lednicky, Capt. Chuck Gore, and Lt. Jessa Russell saved the chilly canine.

“Another thing that stood out is dispatchers and town employees rented hotel rooms for a few days because they knew they would not be able to make it back and forth to work with the terrible roads,” said Russell, the town’s public information officer. As a small token of gratitude, residents in both towns provided heartwarming meals to municipal employees.

Highland Park’s Mayor Margo Goodwin said she “wholeheartedly” supported dedicating the parade to municipal employees.  

They came in on their days off to help during the winter storm and practiced COVID-19 safety guidelines throughout the pandemic, so that town hall never shut down, she noted. “Just the fact that they do not work a 9-to-5 job — they come in whenever they are needed — is just exemplary, and I am very proud of every single one of them.”

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