No fireworks at Taste of Chicago

June 1, 2011 (CHICAGO)

A spectacular fireworks show usually caps off the festival. But this year the tradition of city-run fireworks on July 3rd is coming to an end.

The Chicago Park District, which inherited the Taste this year, has decided to shelve the fireworks display, citing tough economic times.

"We had to make some tough decisions this year where we needed to cut corners just so we can put on a large-scale festival like we have in the past," said Zvezdana Kubat, Chicago Park District.

Kubat says eliminating the fireworks display saves the park district $110,000 in production costs alone. That's not including police expenses.

Last year the city attempted to cut back costs by scaling back the fireworks and moving them from Grant Park to Montrose Harbor and 59th Street. But on Wednesday Mayor Rahm Emanuel acknowledged the need to make cutbacks.

"We can't afford it, and we're gonna make some decisions," said Emanuel. "These were decisions that were made prior, but we're gonna stay with them given what we can afford."

The holiday weekend will not go without fireworks, however. Navy Pier will have a show on July Fourth as it has done every year since 1995. But this year it will be the city's only display. City officials are already developing a public safety plan in case an overflow crowd heads to the pier.

"We are putting together an extensive plan with recommendations that we are about to finalize," said acting superintendent Garry McCarthy, Chicago Police Department.

Navy Pier's show was included in the city's scaled-back fireworks production last year and had to close early because of too many people.

"When the fire department and fire Marshall determines capacity, then we will take the necessary precautions to make sure we ensure safety of visitors here," said Delores Robinson, Navy Pier.

Robinson went on to remind residents that July Fourth is not the only time to see fireworks at Navy Pier. Fireworks displays will take place two evenings a week on Wednesday and Saturday through Labor Day.

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