I was at the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois, with my family. My parents and I were meeting my sister, brother-in-law and their kids (ages six, four and one). We were about to cross the street to meet up with them when we stopped to talk with someone we knew.
A few minutes into our conversation, there was a rapid succession of popping noises coming from down the block. We turned in that direction, wondering who and why someone would be shooting off firecrackers in a place like this; that would surely scare people, in the climate/country we live in.
About 30 seconds later, the popping noises returned, and this time the parade dissolved into chaos. A swarm of people started running in our direction, and we ran with them. My initial thought, for about three seconds, was that everyone just got scared by this loud popping noise, and the parade would continue within a few minutes, once everyone calmed down. I simply couldn’t believe that I was personally experiencing what so many others have experienced elsewhere, in what felt like another universe. Now, it was in mine.