4th of July 2020: Police patrol crowded bars, closed beaches for holiday weekend

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Fourth of July celebrations in Chicago will look a bit different this year with the beaches closed. Restaurants and bars are open, but city inspectors are keeping a close eye on the crowds.

Even with the absence of the annual fireworks extravaganza, Navy Pier was still a popular spot on Saturday.

They're operating at reduced capacity, and everyone is required to wear face coverings and to social distance.

People are still having a good time, enjoying food, live music and boat rides.

Navy Pier officials said they want their visitors to have fun, but also stay safe.

After crowds cluttered closed lakefront beaches, Chicago police have been out patrolling, warning would-be beachgoers not to partake.

Chicago's beaches are officially closed through the July 4 holiday weekend, but that hasn't stopped people from getting out there and enjoying some time in the sun.

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The famed "Playpen" boat party area was crowded as ever on Friday.

"I'm not trying to go to the beach or get out into a big crowd of people," said resident Dana Hesch.

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With beaches and Lake Michigan off limits, post-quarantine Chicagoans are having to get creative this holiday weekend.

Paddle boarding on the Lincoln Park lagoon offers water and sun, without the crowd.

"It's one of the most socially distant activities you can do," said Patrick Timlin, manager of Chicago SUP. "It's a 12-foot long board. You're paddling by yourself out on the lagoon."

Timlin said the company nearly doubled it reservations on Friday.

"We've gone from 41 reservations today in the morning to 80 by the end of the day," he said. "Tomorrow, we went from 30 to almost 100 now. Definitely been picking up a lot and we're happy to see it."

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But as COVID-19 case numbers hang in the balance of the city's reopening, health officials are begging people to keep activities small.

Indoor and outdoor bars in Wrigleyville spilled onto the sidewalks last weekend, with young customers eager to get back to normal. But bars are operating at very limited capacity.

"We've had to turn quite a few people away unfortunately," said bartender Andrea Hughes."When you have 20-21-year-olds, who kind of feel invincible, but also like, use your minds."

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Chicago fire officials, police and alcohol enforcement didn't even wait for dark to pace Clark Street. Officials were seen circling crowded bars and counting heads, ready to issue citations.

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Fourth of July celebrations in Chicago will look a bit different this year with the beaches closed. Restaurants and bars are open, but city inspectors are keeping a close eye on th



A variety of Independence Day Celebrations, including a 4th of July public safety procession through the city of Aurora that will start and finish near the city's main medical centers beginning at 10 a.m.

The Chicago History Museum will host a virtual 4th of July event on its website and Facebook page starting at 10 a.m. It will include a Declaration of Independence discussion with participants like Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other civic leaders.

At 3 p.m., Navy Pier will host a scaled-down celebration with free live music, however there will be capacity restrictions are in place due to the pandemic.

The Aurora Historical Society will observe the holiday by ringing their historic bells as they have on every Independence Day for 56 years.

The event will be streamed online at 12:45 on the society's Facebook page. It is not open to the public.
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