City of Chicago Announces NO Official 2011 FIREWORKS...What's the Real Story?


Chicago Does Away With Another Tradition.
Chicago, Thursday, June 2, 2011. Despite some Grinches, who for personal reasons such as less traffic on Lake Shore Drive, are happy that the official City of Chicago’s Independence Day fireworks display (traditionally held on July 3 in Grant Park) has been cancelled, the majority of Chicagoans are sad. After three-plus decades, the annual Grant Park extravaganza and picnic had become a tradition for many. It gave people something to look forward to after a long hard Chicago winter–especially after last winter and its’ MIA spring.

But alas, as announced yesterday, it seems that there will be no official city-run fireworks. Chicago Park District spokesperson Jessica Maxey-Faulkner explains that the decision to cancel even last year’s smaller fireworks at three lakefront locations was a sacrifice demanded by the economic times.  Maxey-Faulkner noted that last year’s show cost $110,000 (excluding security costs).

Pennywise and Pound Foolish.
Although $110,000 is a nice amount for anyone to have in their bank account, it is a drop in the bucket to city coffers. With over one million spectators attending the event, if each person spent only $1 on food, drinks, parking or souvenirs that adds up to over one million dollars.

An Aside.
This morning, Mayor Emanuel and CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard announced savings of $75 million to the Chicago Public Schools by trimming administrative and non-classroom spending from the upcoming FY12 budget. Now that’s real savings!

Behind the Fuzzy Math.
Is the city really saving money on the elimination of the city-run fireworks?  Are we getting the full story? City officials are telling spectators to go to Navy Pier for their firework’s fix.  That means Chicago’s only 4th of July fireworks will be the previously
scheduled show at 9 p.m. July 4 at the Pier. That 15-minute show, along with the Wednesday and Saturday summer-long Navy Pier fireworks displays, is
paid for by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority.

Can Navy Pier Handle the Overflow?
Why is the City is telling everyone to go to Navy Pier?  What are they thinking?  If over one million people show up at the Pier for
fireworks, in addition to the crowds that are already there for the Ferris wheel, dinner, theater and other entertainment, where, oh where will they go?  Even with Navy Pier being one of three locations for last year’s 4th of July fireworks, it had to shut down almost two hours before the fireworks were to take place due to overcrowding. Navy Pier spokesman Jon Kaplan recalls that “last year we shut down for two or three hours–only letting in employees, and people with theater or boat tickets–even barring those with restaurant reservations–after 7:20p.m.” It doesn’t take a math genius to figure out that this year is going to be chaos.  

Going, going, gone.
Two years ago, the city cancelled Venetian Night after a 52 year run. Last year Viva Chicago, the Country Music Fest, and the Gospel and Celtic Fests were chopped into small pieces, featuring local acts, that will be absorbed into this year’s Taste umbrella. Now it’s farewell to the City’s Official Fireworks. What’s next?  

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