Since most fireworks are illegal in Illinois, many locals flock to stores in Indiana and Wisconsin in the weeks leading up to the July 4 weekend. Fireworks laws are more relaxed in those states, so there is no shortage of stores selling fireworks legally. Cross into Indiana, for example, and most of the billboards you’ll see along highways point you to the nearest fireworks store.
Explore this interactive map to find some popular fireworks stores near Chicago.
Remember that most fireworks are illegal in Illinois and specific laws vary from town to town. If you’re interested in shooting fireworks, either privately or as a professional display, be aware of Illinois’ current fireworks regulations.
The Office of the State Fire Marshal and the National Fire Protection Association recommend that people attend a professional fireworks display on July 4 to ensure a safe holiday. For more information visit: http://www2.illinois.gov/KeepCool/Pages/fire_safety.aspx
This year, Navy Pier is the only site for July 4 fireworks in the city. Chicago is certainly known for its dazzling fireworks shows, but if you’re looking for a venue that is less crowded or more kid-friendly, don’t count out the suburbs!
Enjoy a day of horse racing, music and fireworks at the Arlington Park racetrack in Arlington Heights. According to the Arlington Park website, the fireworks display will last over 30 minutes. The first 20,000 attendees will receive 3-D fireworks glasses and the first 1,000 kids get a free firecracker popsicle.
Take your family to Gillson Park in Wilmette on Sunday July 3rd for games, rides, entertainment and a TasteFest beginning at 4 p.m. The Grand Fireworks show starts at 9:30 p.m.
Lisle’s Eyes to the Skies festival will end with fireworks displays July 1-3 in Lisle Community Park. According to the festival website, because Monday is a work/school night, the Eyes to the Skies Committee decided that the finale will be done on July 3 instead of the 4 so kids and parents could relax and enjoy the show.
Because of the Chicago’s budget cuts, Navy Pier is now the exclusive site for fireworks in the city. You can catch fireworks shows on Saturday July 2 at 10:15 p.m. and Monday July 4 at 9 p.m. There will be no fireworks on July 3.
Navy Pier is also offering fireworks displays all summer on Wednesdays and Saturdays through September. For a full listing of dates and times, click here.
Fireworks will be launched from Clark Street Beach at 9:15 p.m. and can be viewed from any part of the lakefront east of downtown Evanston. Grab some chairs and tune into 90.5 FM to hear accompanying music along with the fireworks display.
Morton Grove’s fireworks show will begin at 9:30 p.m. in Harrer Park, at 6250 Dempster St, Morton Grove, IL 60053 at Fernald Avenue.
Itasca is known for hosting one of the largest fireworks displays outside of the Chicago. Hamilton Lakes Office Campus at I290 & Thorndale Ave. The show will begin between 9:45 and 10 p.m. Fireworks are set to last about 25 minutes.
The city of Naperville’s Independence Day fireworks extravaganza begins at 9:30 p.m. in Knoch Park as part of its annual Ribfest celebration. Entry into the park could end early due to capacity, so get there early!
Libertyville’s July 4 celebration will be held at Butler Lake Park. The event starts at 7:00 p.m. Fireworks start at dusk around 9:30 p.m.
Take your family and friends to Tinley Park’s free Fourth of July celebration featuring live music, children’s games and activities, food tent, beer tent, bingo, and fireworks.
For a detailed list of July 4 events in the suburbs listed by county, visit http://chicagofree.info/2011/06/27/chicago-area-fireworks-options-2011/.
Lots of people like to celebrate U.S. independence with fireworks. But for residents of Chicago and the rest of Illinois, that sort of explosive patriotism is against the law. According to state and city legislation, only smoke bombs, party poppers and other novelty items that contain very low levels of or no explosive material are available to the general public. The city also forbids sparklers in the name of public safety, according to Chicago Police Department Commander Eugene Roy.
Fireworks can go off unintentionally from heat, friction or a stray spark, Roy said. They can cause severe burns and other injuries, which is why the law leaves them up to the professionals. The Illinois Fireworks Use Act states that only licensed pyrotechnic operators who obtain permits can put on public fireworks displays.
If you’re not a professional and decide to put on a show anyway, the consequences could be costly. Anyone caught with illegal fireworks in Chicago faces a fine of $200 to $500. Additionally, possessing a firework with more than one-fourth of an ounce of an explosive mixture in it qualifies as a felony, Roy said. Getting caught with less explosive fireworks can count as a misdemeanor.
So, to make sure your Fourth of July festivities don’t land you in jail, here’s a chart to help you figure out whether it’s ok to use a firework or novelty item in Chicago:
For people who shirk fireworks laws, the consequences can include not only fines and felony charges but hospital visits. From June 23 to July 20, 2010, state hospitals treated 135 people for fireworks-related injuries, the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal reports. Firecrackers were the most common culprit, and 45 percent of the injuries were burns.
To find out more about the potential dangers of fireworks, check out the 2010 Summary of Fireworks Injuries in Illinois and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission 2010 Fireworks Annual Report.
The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal recommends that the state’s residents stay safe by attending professional displays if they want to see fireworks, according to keepcool.illinois.gov.