Parades, Fireworks Mark Fourth of July in Chicago Area

This year's fireworks show starts at 9:30 p.m. Friday and lasts 15 minutes

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    Crowds packed Navy Pier for Friday’s 4th of July Fireworks show. So many people showed up, that police had to turn some of them away. NBC 5’s Emily Florez was there, and spoke to folks who had to quickly come up with a “Plan B.” (Published Saturday, July 5, 2014)

    Pride and patriotism were on full display for the Fourth of July in the Chicago area.

    Tens of thousands of visitors gathered at Navy Pier, many dressed in patriotic attire, hoping to make it into the venue for the annual fireworks show.

    Thousands Head to Navy Pier for 4th of July Fireworks

    [CHI] Thousands Head to Navy Pier for 4th of July Fireworks
    Navy Pier is filling up as folks make their way there to celebrate the 4th of July. Cars are already being turned away because garages are full, and officials say they may have to turn away people too. NBC’s Anthony Ponce reports. (Published Friday, July 4, 2014)

    Gates closed around 7 p.m. as the venue reached capacity. No additional visitors were being allowed inside, officials said.

    The pier was expecting roughly 125,000 people to watch the holiday fireworks, more than double the average summer weekend crowds, and issued a special crowd advisory for those planning to visit Friday or Saturday.

    4th of July Forecast

    [CHI] 4th of July Forecast
    Andy Avalos expects picture perfect weather this Fourth of July. (Published Tuesday, July 15, 2014)

    "We anticipate that at some times on both days, to ensure the safety and comfort of all guests, Navy Pier will reach capacity and the gates will close," their website read.

    Patriotism on Display at Arlington Heights 4th of July Parade

    [CHI] Patriotism on Display at Arlington Heights 4th of July Parade
    The Arlington Heights Fourth of July parade draws people from around the northwest suburbs to celebrate the nation's birthday. Charlie Wojciechowski reports. (Published Friday, July 4, 2014)

    Chicago Police had to turn away people last year after Navy Pier reached capacity, and pier personnel said it wasn't a matter of if it reached capacity again this year, but when.

    "Last year, first the garages filled up and then at a certain point we reached capacity," said spokesman Nick Shields. "We expect the same thing to happen this year."

    Safety Experts Urge Caution With Fireworks

    [NATL] Safety Experts Urge Caution With Fireworks
    With the July 4th weekend fast approaching, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is reporting an increase in fireworks-related deaths and injuries, and is urging consumers to exercise caution, especially around kids. (Published Wednesday, July 2, 2014)

    Shields advised those wishing to attend the celebratory event to arrive by early afternoon.

    Navy Pier's parking garage filled to capacity before 2:30 p.m. Friday. Partner parking garages-- including the Grand Plaza Self Park at 540 N. State St., the Ogden Plaza Self Park at 300 E. North Water St., and the Millennium Lakeside Garage at 5 S. Columbus Ave.--were available at a discount rate of $15 for 12 hours, but still expected to be crowded.

    Visitors were being encouraged to take public transportation as well.

    This year's fireworks show started at 9:30 p.m. Friday and lasted roughly 15 minutes.

    For those who'd rather steer clear of July 4 crowds, Navy Pier hosts an encore performance Saturday night, July 5, at 10:15 p.m.

    The pier closed at midnight but trolleys offered transportation to parking garages up to 1 a.m.

    Chicago's annual fireworks weren't the only holiday celebration in the Chicago area. Several area suburbs also held celebratory events.

    The Arlington Heights Fourth of July Parade drew people from around the northwest suburbs and celebrators gathered along the route in a sea of red, white and blue.

    Among the attendees were gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner and Gov. Pat Quinn.

    "It's very, very important that we remember today as we celebrate our independence and our democracy, we will enjoy parades and picnics and barbecues and all the things that are a part of America, we can't forget those who deployed to defend our democracy," Quinn said.

    "We are here to celebrate the birth of our nation," said Rauner. "It's a beautiful day to celebrate the greatest nation in the history if the world."

    For more details on where to watch the fireworks in the city or the suburbs click here.