Navy Pier to host 'largest fireworks display' despite COVID surge

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It is a New Year's Eve tradition in Chicago. After a year off because of COVID-19, city leaders say midnight fireworks are back and will be bigger than ever this weekend.

"Because the river is such a great vista and you can get that great view, you can do some interesting things with the fireworks in a way that brings the whole river to life," said John Murray, fireworks coordinator.

Murray is coordinating an elaborate fireworks show for the city that will span 1.5 miles from Wolf Point on the Chicago River to the lake, with eight different launch points on the river and bridges. The show will be synchronized and choreographed to music.

And after a year of dealing with the pandemic, many Chicagoans and tourists are looking forward to some normalcy.

"We are thrilled about that to be together with family again," said Lisa Allyn.

Even as the number of COVID cases continue to spike, city leaders say they will move forward with fireworks to celebrate the new year-- but safety will remain a top priority. Proof of vaccination or a negative test within the last 72 hours will be required for all attendees. Regardless of vaccination status, everyone will have to wear masks indoors.

Still, some feel it is safer to watch on television.

"I think it's pretty cool but to be honest I'll be watching on TV. If I can stay up that late," said Jamilah Paddock.

Health experts say you can enjoy New Year's Eve safely, and wearing a mask is one of the most important ways to do it.

"Keep same distance so you are not swapping air with people that may be wanting to share a gift you don't want," said Dr. Ngozi Ezike of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

City officials believe the fireworks show is important for the hospitality industry in the city since restaurants and hotels expect large crowds. The show will last about five minutes along the river, but it will continue a bit longer on the east end at Navy Pier where restaurants and hotels are located.

Still, they are urging people to celebrate safely.

"New Years is such a special time for all of us that it was important to the city to create an opportunity for folks to celebrate but do so in a ways that's very safe," said Samir Mayekar, vice mayor.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.