Chicago area prepares for 4th of July celebrations

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- Whether its fireworks or food, there is lots of fun to be had over the next two days. The crowd will get to enjoy both at Naperville's Ribfest Monday night.

Across the western suburbs, crews have been busy putting together the finishing touches on shows that will light up the skies.

"This is our Super Bowl weekend, right? You know this is what we live for the rest of the year," lead shooter Karl Maerz said.

Over the past four days, workers at the Arlington Heights racetrack have been busy setting up, delicately placing and wiring thousands of lights timed to a special soundtrack.

"Our choreographer uses the fireworks like a painter would use colors to design a show around the music we selected to get the theme or emotion he wants," Maerz said.

The racetrack show will feature 3,000 fireworks shot from 19 different locations. Organizers spend a year planning, designing and traveling across the world to find unique additions to each show.

VIDEO: Fireworks safety stressed ahead of holiday
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Lead pyrotechnicians stress safety first when putting together elaborate firework shows.

Local pyrotechnicians stress "safety first, fun second" when putting together elaborate firework shows.

"Anything that we shoot out here in the back field or the fronts here - even if you think it's a small shell, it can maim you," Maerz said.

This holiday weekend, hundreds of thousands of people will celebrate the Fourth of July watching colorful lights paint up Chicago skies. But across the state line, others are buying and building their own firework shows.

"We came back because we're all the way from Chicago and this is the first stop closest to getting any fireworks," one shopper said.

Firework vendors remind shoppers: all firework goods purchased come with big warnings.

"We stress the safety obviously. Adults only. A wide lighting zone. 100 feet from the firework to the crowd. And take the liquor out of the fireworks," the store owner said.

Don't let size fool you. Pyrotechnicians say even the smallest sparkler can cause major damage.

"You can get burned badly even with the consumer fireworks that you can buy in Indiana," Maerz said.

It's a major concern for many parents here at Naperville's Ribfest, who will get to enjoy fireworks with good eats at the 30th annual event.

"I feel much more relaxed knowing I can just spend time and not have to worry about where they are what they are doing while the fireworks are going off," Lisa Pisha said.

The Exchange Club of Naperville created Ribfest in order to fight child abuse and domestic violence. ABC 7 is a proud sponsor of Ribfest.
Naperville Ribfest
Date: June 30 - July 3rd
Hours: Noon-10pm
Address: Knoch Park, Naperville
Admission: ticket prices vary

For more information, visit
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