Navy Pier Now The Only Place For July 4 Fireworks

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.)

  • Kay

    So now charge $25 to get in the taste (pre food) and you will have killed the whole reason to visit Chicago in the summer. Bravo.

  • Jim

    Good! Now invest in the lakefront property the city owns south of Soldier Field and give the city the lakefront they own. It’s a wasted beautiful space right now, make a North Ave Beach with a Castaways on the south side lakefront too. Why do we waste this space?

    Oh yeah, that’s right, that’s for the Olympics… ha!

    • Mike

      Umm, they are, at the new harbor at 31st Street…do your research

  • G Artist

    Wonderful. Chicago-the city that WORKS. One million people on average attend this grand event thtat had become a tourtist and locals staple of family entertainment. Goverment are real professionals when cutting budgets-in all the wrong places—-But bring on the gambling and same sex “civil unions” in our once great city…Thank you Mayor Emmanuel-can I have my vote back???

    • Roberta Waker

      Don’t blame Emmanuel yet. Right now he’s trying to cut expenses and maybe these events will return in the near future. What do you think the other mayoral candidates would have done – continue to waste money and do nothing? Give him a chance.

  • G Artist

    Ooooooops. I apologize for the typos. I REALLY can spell (tourist) (that). See? (LOL)

  • brian


  • Say What

    Stay home and watch your local fireworks.Go to Navy Pier and worry about you and your familly getting harrased by thugs.Not worth it.Advise any one you know.

  • Ron

    Kay, the Taste is still free. However, I haven’t been in a few years and don’t plan on going this year. I’d rather pay $25 to be able to go to the Taste and enjoy it rather than get in for free to witness ghetto trash act a fool get harassed by bums asking for free tickets. Also, I believe thuggery will kill the whole reason to visit Chicago rather than a $25 admission fee to the Taste. Before you fools go and call me racist, I’m black. Just telling it like it is.

  • Gerald Spencer

    I remember when Venetian night was cut, I missed seeing my drunken neighbor falling off his boat. Now I watch my drunken neighbor fall off the stoup of his brownstone as he admires his Bentley. How many fireworks a year does Chicago need along the lake front? There are how many now, 40? 50? It is sad that any good entertainment is cut from the bread and circuses. I would rather they cut the air show, there are fewer people who go to see that and it is much, much harder to get any view of it.

    • idiot

      Gerald, you are completely clueless. Do you live anywhere near the city? If you do, you have no clue.

  • billyd

    An aspect of the story that seems to be overlooked is the enormous cost of paying police overtime for all that security. More than $750,000??? I’m not understanding the math. How much are we paying these people for a few hours of additional work?

    • Jim

      I agree that the police overtime is excessive. Based on my math an extra 100 cops working for 10 hours is making $750/hr. And they have the audacity to call at 8 pm and ask for donations?! Call your buddies that are lining their pockets with green!

      • Bozo

        “an extra 100 cops”?? Seriously? The event drew more than 1 MILLION people…do you really think only 100 extra cops are working? And, the story mentions “police expenses”, not just overtime paid…that includes all the equipment, fuel, pre-planning, etc. Not to mention the “lost children” tent, or more realistically, the “CPD babysitter” tent, where kids stay for hours until their drunk parent shows up to get them with absolutely no repercussions.

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