HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. — With the Minnesota Twins in Chicago to open a road series against the White Sox, radio play-by-play announcer Cory Provus took the opportunity Monday morning to visit with family in his hometown of Highland Park, Ill., just 30 miles north of Guaranteed Rate Field.
Around 10 a.m., Provus was enjoying a late breakfast with his parents, who still live about a mile and a half from downtown Highland Park, when the family received an urgent phone call. It was from Provus' older brother, who lives in Highland Park but is currently on vacation during the holiday.
"He said there was a live shooter at the Fourth of July parade downtown. And I said, 'what?'" Provus recalled in a Zoom interview with KARE 11. "Within minutes, we could hear sirens and helicopters."
The downtown corridor Provus knew so well from his childhood in Highland Park had suddenly become the epicenter of another mass shooting.
Long before his career in sports broadcasting, Provus had worked one of his first high school jobs at a candy store next to the intersection of Central Avenue and 2nd Street, where the shooting reportedly occurred. As a kid, he had often attended the Fourth of July parade, always a source of warm memories.
"My parents would bring me in my stroller and we'd sit there with the music and the floats and the food, and it was what July 4th was all about. It was about family and celebrating, and today it turned into tragedy," Provus said. "It really is sad what took place."
Provus said his sister-in-law's mother attended the parade but reported herself safe. While his immediate family and friends are okay, Provus said he's bracing himself for the release of victims' names, since Highland Park is the kind of town where everybody seems to know each other.
"If you don't know somebody, then maybe you know somebody that they know, or a neighbor," Provus said. "I'd almost be surprised if I don't know a connection, or if I don't have any connection to somebody."
In a statement, the Chicago White Sox announced that Monday night's game against the Twins would proceed as scheduled at 7:10 p.m., after the team spoke with representatives from Major League Baseball.
"Our hearts are with the Highland Park community," the team wrote. "The entire Chicago White Sox organization expresses our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the innocent victims of today's horrific shooting and all of those who have been affected by this tragedy."
The White Sox also announced they would hold a moment of silence before the game.
"That will hit me pretty hard. Once the game starts, the amazing thing about this sport is it does bring people together," Provus said. "Once we get through the moment of silence, through the national anthem, and the first pitch is thrown by Johnny Cueto and hopefully Luis Arráez hits a double down the right field line, then that sadness I think will turn into a smile, for just about three hours. Real life will be on pause and we'll watch a baseball game and hopefully the Twins prevail tonight."
But his hometown of Highland Park will never be far from his mind.
"Am I taken aback that I can't believe that this happened in downtown Highland Park? No. Because that's our world today. With the gun laws that we have in our country, they're going to keep happening. That, to me, is a problem, and those are my feelings on it," Provus said. "I know people watching it right now probably will disagree, and if so, you're entitled to your beliefs, I'm entitled to mine. But to say, 'I can't believe this happened in Highland Park, Illinois,' I think is just flat-out naïve."
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