Some fireworks shows fizzle, others join together

June 30, 2011 3:23:00 PM PDT
More municipalities are cutting back, curtailing, or getting creative with Fourth of July holiday festivities this year.

Berwyn and Elgin are just a couple of many communities canceling fireworks this year. In Bensenville, the show will go on, thanks to a collaboration with neighboring suburbs.

Along the tranquil waters of Waukegan harbor, they are gearing up for a Fourth of July tradition.

"It shows a lot of pride in the community," said David Motley of the City of Waukegan.

Monday's fireworks show was nearly canceled. Waukegan officials last week said it could not justify the $40,000 cost.

"At the same time, we're laying off municipal workers and trying to save in every way possible, and that was one of the cost-saving measures," said Motley.

However, after officials announced the show would not go on, an anonymous donor agreed to foot the bill, much to the relief of Waukegan school kids who have flooded the city with thank you notes.

"This entity also agrees that the Fourth of July is a priority," said Motley. "Let's get together and celebrate it and do something really fun to recognize the important holiday."

For the second year in a row, the City of Chicago is canceling its Grant Park fireworks, which were to be on July 3rd, in favor of a scaled-down celebration at Navy Pier on the Fourth.

Several suburbs are making similar concessions, and some fireworks companies are feeling the pinch.

"We are seeing budget crunches," said Aaron Enzer of ACE Pyro. "Certainly, some communities are having some real challenges."

ACE Pyro says that it is one of the few companies that is not hurting. It has been hired by Arlington Park for a Saturday evening event which includes horse racing, live music, and a 30-minute fireworks extravaganza.

"Because of the proximity to the fireworks when you're across the track, you're so close to it it's happening right in your face so it's a pretty unique experience for fireworks, so I think it'd be the neatest show anybody would ever see," said Arlington Park spokesperson Howard Sudberry.

Despite tough times, some communities are holding their largest celebrations ever. The villages of Bensenville, Elmhurst, Wood Dale and Addison are sharing costs for a four-day event which includes carnival rides, music, a parade, and two nights of fireworks.

"It says to me that the towns now work together, and are cooperating together," said Gary Thorsen of the Village of Bensenville. "If the towns didn't cooperate together, we wouldn't be able to do anything like this."

Bensenville officials say the team effort is saving each community tens of thousands of dollars. The event runs from Friday through Monday evening in Redmond Park.

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