Chicago can­cels July 3rd fire­works at Taste of Chicago

Saves $500K with shows on July 4 at Navy Pier, north, south lake­front

Chicago Sun-Times - - Boom News - BY FRAN SPIEL­MAN

De­clin­ing city rev­enues and evap­o­rat­ing cor­po­rate spon­sors on Wed­nes­day claimed Chicago’s most spec­tac­u­lar show: the an­nual July 3 fire­works ex­trav­a­ganza in Grant Park — a high­light of Taste of Chicago.

In­stead of hav­ing one gi­gan­tic show on July 3 that typ­i­cally draws more than 1.2 mil­lion peo­ple and stretches city ser­vices to the brink, Chicago will hold three smaller syn­chro­nized fire­works shows on July 4 at Navy Pier and at lo­ca­tions on the north and south lake­front.

The Navy Pier show will be paid for by the McPier Au­thor­ity. The city will bankroll the north and south lake­front shows, ten­ta­tively planned for Mon­trose and 63rd Street beaches.

The shows will last 15 min­utes, down from 18 min­utes at the July 3 gala. Taste of Chicago will con­tinue. But it will close ear­lier on July 3 and 4 — at 6 p.m.

Spe­cial Events Di­rec­tor Me­gan McDon­ald tried to put the best pos­si­ble face on the end of a 35-year tra­di­tion in Chicago.

“There are cities across the coun­try that have flat-out can­celed their fire­works [and said], ‘We’re not doin’ ’em. Too bad ev­ery­body. Stay home.’ Chicago is say­ing, ‘We’re still do­ing our In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­bra­tion and, in fact, we’re en­hanc­ing it by bring­ing it into the neigh­bor­hoods. I think that’s a great thing,” she said.

But McDon­ald made no bones about the rea­sons for the change, which is ex­pected to save the city a min­i­mum of $500,000.

“We’re do­ing it to be fis­cally re­spon­si­ble be­cause we have to be. We’re also do­ing it to more ef­fec­tively man­age what hap­pens at the Taste of Chicago, as well as city­wide, on an al­ready busy hol­i­day week­end,” she said.

Ald. He­len Shiller (46th), whose ward in­cludes Mon­trose Beach, wel­comed the change, as long as traf­fic is con­trolled and Lake Shore Drive re­mains open.

“If this saves us money and makes the fire­works more ac­ces­si­ble for neigh­bor­hoods north and south, I’m cool with it,” Shiller said.

Ald. Les­lie Hairston (5th), whose ward in­cludes the 63rd Street Beach, said the change “brings the Fourth of July into the neigh­bor­hoods.”

Down­town Ald. Bren­dan Reilly (42nd) ap­plauded the “se­ri­ous ef­fort to cut costs.” But, he said, “That’s a big week­end for ho­tels and restau­rants. They pay their fair share of taxes. I just want to make sure that, in try­ing to save costs by can­cel­ing the big cel­e­bra­tion that we aren’t in­ad­ver­tently cost­ing our­selves city rev­enue.”

The city has been hold­ing the show on July 3 since 1975, start­ing at Olive Park north of Navy Pier, then mov­ing to Grant Park in 1978. It re­placed a long­time pri­vate show run by the Amer­i­can Le­gion at Sol­dier Field.

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