Updated 07/04/14 – 10 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Crowds became so heavy at Navy Pier more than two hours before a July 4 fireworks show that officials had to close the entrances at the lakefront venue.
Officials closed the gates to new arrivals at 7 p.m., citing safety concerns. The 15-minute fireworks show was scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m.
More than 100,000 people were on the pier.
“To ensure the safety and comfort of all our guests, no additional visitors will be allowed to enter Navy Pier,” organizers said in a news release.
Pier officials said anyone leaving Navy Pier would not be readmitted. They reminded the public there also will be fireworks Saturday night at 10:15 p.m.
The on-site parking garages were already full by 2:30 p.m., seven hours before the fireworks show.
CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports huge crowds were expected along the lakefront, thanks to picture perfect weather, which will make it a more challenging to stake out a spot the longer you wait to get there. City officials have advised people to get there Friday afternoon to make sure they get a good vantage point.
With the combination of a great forecast and Independence Day falling on a Friday this year, there’s the potential for much larger crowds than usual at Navy Pier for its July 4th fireworks show.
“You can really see them down the entire south dock at Navy Pier, but we encourage people to go as far east as possible, and to come as early as possible … as there’s always a chance that we collectively decide with the Police and Fire Departments that we might shut down the pier,” said Navy Pier entertainment director Jen Kramer.