Crowds head to downtown Highland Park to show support for shops and restaurants that had to close after the massacre

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (CBS) — Crowds stroll through downtown Highland Park – showing their support as they shop for groceries and small businesses and eat at local restaurants.

Many of these businesses were forced to close for a week, following the July 4 parade massacre. Now they are reopening and refocusing with the help of the community.

As CBS 2’s Tara Molina reported on Tuesday, many kinds of love and support were on display at Highland Park this week. For some it feels like stopping for a chat and a hug, and four others it has meant coming downtown and spending money on these local businesses.

Lauren Strongin and Jorie DiCocco are close friends and lifelong residents of Highland Park. They were together in downtown Highland Park on Tuesday to introduce themselves to the community they love.

“It’s all about community and supporting our local businesses — which is always important, but I think especially now,” DiCocco said.

“To give back to the community that has given us so much over the years,” Strongin added.

We caught up with DiCocco and Strongin sitting outside Michael’s Grill & Salad Bar, 1879 2nd St.

“If you feel like home,” Strongin said.

Michael’s has been in business since 1977 – 45 years.

“You know it’s still a staple,” DiCocco said. “You know it’s always good.”

We first told you about Michael on Monday. They are usually open seven days a week, but have been closed for their longest time – and have been forced to dump all their food in their fridges.

But since reopening on Tuesday, Michael’s has received overwhelming support.

“We had orders, you know, before we opened the doors,” said Adam Porte of Michael’s.

And that made all the difference.

“We’re grateful to still be here,” Porte said. “We’re serving comfort food right now, at a time when it looks like people could definitely use comfort.”

Another business that saw and heard crowds on Tuesday was Louy’s Dry Bar Salon, 1820 2nd St. Louy’s was forced to cancel all hair appointments last week, but they have now reopened to full hours .

“I have a lot of customers. They come to support me. Even today we are busy,” said owner Louy Jalo. “They are my family. They are strong. You know, we are going to be better and better.”

Business owners have told us that the unification, resilience and love they’ve seen from their community of friends like DiCocco and Strogin — and so many others like them — means everything.

“I know this town,” Jalo said. “We are very strong.”

“It’s good to see people again and see, you know, come out and support local businesses — but also support each other, I think, too,” DiCocco said.

A Highland Park spokesperson said what Strongin and DiCocco were doing on Tuesday was exactly what the city is recommending right now to strengthen Highland Park:

“The Town of Highland Park is exploring all avenues to support our businesses during this difficult time. Our businesses, many of which are owned by residents of Highland Park, are the heart of our community and they have been deeply affected by this tragic event. Supporting our local business community is key to ensuring resilience and recovery.Highland Park is home to many unique destination shops and restaurants, and we look forward to welcoming Highland Park residents and guests from across our region soon to our beautiful city.

In the meantime, information about the Highland Park Community Foundation and how you can donate can be found here.

About Jonathan Bell

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