Actually, it's my town does 3rd of July as that is the day of our Fireworks. The logic for this is, when 4th of July falls in the middle of the week you will want to be able to stay up late and not worry about work the next day.
We celebrate Independence Day with Fireworks over Lake Michigan, the Taste of Chicago, and an outdoor symphony at Petrillo Music Shell. The 85th Army band played this year, although we did not go to listen as we were claiming our spots for Fireworks. The Independence Day Fireworks are actually offered as part of the Taste of Chicago and is funded out of the same budget.
We started off our Third of July celebrations by checking out the 29th annual the Taste of Chicago. Every year three million people converge on Grant Park in downtown Chicago to sample the delicious foods that Chicago has to offer. The Taste starts on Friday of the weekend before Independence Day weekend and run through until the Sunday after Independence Day. 70 local restaurants had booths with various ethic and American food choices. $8 buys 12 tickets, which includes a $2 surcharge to cover security, clean up and entertainment. Most vendors had an entree sized selection for 6-8 tickets and small "taste portions" for 3-4 tickets. Pete and my usual method is to share these taste portions between the two of us for a wider variety of "tastes." This year we sampled ten different tastes ranging from Mexican, Irish, BBQ, African, Creole--and others. There were several restaurants that I want to go back and experience their real meal as the tastes of their offerings were amazing.
There is free entertainment all day and a little park area called "The Family Village" (not normally, just for this event) with moonwalks, a carousel, and a little Ferris wheel for the children. This Ferris wheel is dwarfed by Navy Pier's wheel, but the little kids taking it for a spin didn't seem to mind. There also was various educational activities and presentations in this area. We heard a "Raffi" clone singing songs that sounded much lamer than I remember them being, but the little kids seemed to like it, and that's the important part :). We caught some neat dance routines at the Best Buy Entertainment stage (yes, everything is sponsored by someone). If you ever go to the Taste, I would recommend going earlier in the day. It opens at 11am. If you go then you can be done by 2, just in time to run away from the heat of the day.
Actually, Grant Park is a pretty neat area and will be a topic of a future My Town Monday post. It always has various events going on. But, the real attraction for the day are the Fireworks that night. Walking over to the Taste we saw many people who took their fireworks seating very very seriously.
These pictures were taken at 11am. Fireworks don't start until 9pm. These people are serious. Yes, that is yellow caution tape marking off their little areas. It wasn't just these people, we saw it all over the place. Made me glad that our plan was to watch the fireworks on the dock at the Yacht Club. Anyhoo, talking about the Yacht Club, we actually parked there before the Taste so that we had some (free) parking that was easily accessible. Parking downtown on these days can be as much as $30. And then trying to get out of the parking garage after...yeah...
For those of you contemplating viewing the 3rd of July fireworks in Chicago in the future, the best places to go are Grant park, along the lakeshore at the Monroe/DuSable Harbors and Museum Campus. Northerly Island is a good bet too.
We biked home along the lake front, which was about 6 miles, not too bad. I'll blog about the Lakeshore Bike Path some other day. Was a nice day for a ride, but pretty hot. Many, many families were having cook outs along the path and the beaches were absolutely packed! We rode the el back downtown later on that evening with almost as many coolers and blankets as people cramed into the little el-car. The excitement was almost palpable.
Once we got downtown we high tailed it over to the Yacht Club where we were able to go out to the dock to view the fireworks. Around a million people swarm to the lake front each year so it was nice to be able to sit away from the crowds, even though we had to battle through them to get to the boat. I could definitely see why some people stake their claim out early. Although, I have been told that you can get a decent view if you show up an hour before.
You can't really see the crowds, but trust me, they were there. Short of being in the boats in the Harbor (which we were for Venetian Night last year) we had some of the best seats in the city!
Information and ariel picture from:
(all other pictures are mine)