1 million enjoy lakefront fireworks

July 3, 2009 8:45:48 PM PDT
About one million people enjoyed Chicago's annual July 3rd fireworks show on the lakefront. On Friday night, tens of thousands of people made their way home after enjoying the spectacular show which began around 9 p.m.

The huge crowds forced police to conduct rolling street closures around the city. And there was additional parking restrictions in place around Grant Park and the Loop.

Crowds began to gather in Grant Park on Friday afternoon as the start of the fireworks drew near.

Police closed streets around Grant Park as well as the Taste of Chicago on Friday afternoon. Officials said that safety is a top priority as security remains high before the fireworks.

For Jon Fischer, today is filled with fun, family and friendship.

"I look forward to watching the fireworks. It's all about family and friend and just having a good time and getting together with people we haven't seen in a while," said Fischer.

Spectators ventured to the lakefront on Friday afternoon.

"We had folks here at the crack of dawn. It's a wonderful time for families to get together, enjoy the day," said David Kennedy, Mayor's Office of Special Events.

This year, the 85th Army Band provided a prelude to the fireworks show.

"Any time we have an opportunity to get out in public and play music that pays tribute to our great country and the people defending us it's an awesome opportunity," said Commander John Walker, 85th Army Band.

The Kirkland family came in from Cleveland to experience Chicago.

"I am happy to be a Fourth of July baby. I'm excited to see everybody getting ready to celebrate. Looks like everyone is having a great time," said Angie Kirkland.

The fireworks were launched from barges out on Lake Michigan. They used 3 tons of fireworks, 5,000 aerial shells during Friday's 20 minute show.

Public transportation jammed

Heavy passenger loads caused some delays on Metra trains coming into the city. Earlier on Friday, some trains arrived downtown about 25 minutes late.

Metra says July 3rd is traditionally the busiest day of the year for the commuter rail service.

All lines except for the Heritage corridor were expected to have extra service featuring late afternoon inbound and post-fireworks outbound trains.

Metra reminded passengers that all carry-on baggage would be subject to inspection before boarding.

The CTA planned to have extra buses and trains running on Friday night to accommodate the huge crowds.

To make holiday commutes easier the CTA urgedriders to buy fare cards ahead of time to avoid the expected long lines at the fare vending machines.

Bikes are not allowed on trains on Friday night or Saturday. Strollers must be folded on buses and trains.

There are many more changes to CTA schedules to plan your trip in advance. Please visit the CTA's Web site for more information: www.transitchicago.com.


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