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Navy Pier Now The Only Place For July 4 Fireworks

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Lake Michigan Fireworks

(credit: JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

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UPDATED 06/02/11 12:32 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – A year after the July 3 fireworks extravaganza at the Taste of Chicago was eliminated, officials have also now done away with the smaller shows along the lakefront that replaced them.

Now, the only place to enjoy fireworks legally in the city on the Fourth of July will be Navy Pier.

The Chicago Park District is now in charge of the event, having taken it over from what is now the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

District spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner told the Associated Press the fireworks show was “a reasonable expense to cut.” The city is encouraging people instead to attend the Navy Pier fireworks shows on July 2 and 4.

Maxey-Faulkner says 2010 fireworks cost the city $110,000 not including more than $750,000 in police expenses.

At Navy Pier, fireworks displays are not reserved for the Fourth of July. They occur every Saturday and Wednesday through Sept. 3.

More than a year ago, the city announced the July 3 fireworks show, which had been a popular annual event for decades, would be eliminated. At the time, it was replaced with three smaller shows – at Navy Pier, at the 63rd Street Beach on the South Side, and at Montrose Beach on the North Side.

The city also began shutting down the Taste of Chicago earlier on July 3 and 5 and 6 p.m. They said the move would cut down on the expense of marshalling a huge police presence in small area to provide crowd control for the million people who typically turned out for the fireworks at the Taste.

With the shorter hours and lack of fireworks, attendance at the Taste was down by about 700,000 last year.

But the crowds for the July 3 fireworks displays had been getting out of hand in the years leading up to the cancellation.

Most infamously, in 2008, a man was killed and several others were injured, as patrons flooded into the Loop from Grant Park after the fireworks show. The shooting caused mass hysteria in the streets of the Loop, and prompted more stringent security measures at the Taste the following year.

Earlier this year, the Chicago Park District took over the Taste form the Cultural Affairs and Special Events department, following what the Chicago Sun-Times reported as $7 million in losses over the past there years.

There had been plans afoot to privatize the Taste and other lakefront festivals, but then-Mayor Richard M. Daley rejected the only bidder’s new proposal to charge a $10 admission fee to the Taste. Celebrate Chicago LLC had earlier proposed a $20 admission fee that would have included $10 rebates on food and beverage tickets.

In handing over the Taste to the Park District, the city also canceled the Country Music Festival, the Latin Music Festival, the Gospel Music Festival and Celtic Fest Chicago as standalone events, and instead making them part of the Taste.

Also eliminated in recent years was Venetian Night, the long-running annual parade of illuminated boat floats that draws up to 500,000 people to the lakefront for concerts and fireworks. The Chicago Outdoor Film Festival was also canceled.

The Jazz and Blues Festival continue as standalone events under Cultural Affairs and Special Events department control.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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