This year’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration in Naperville will be held at Frontier Sports Complex for the third year in a row.
At last night’s Naperville Park District Board meeting, the group rejected a request from The Naperville Salute organizers that would move the fireworks to Knoch Park to be closer to the Salute festival itself, which is taking place at Rotary Hill.
Question Of Logistics
Michele Clemen, an organizer of The Naperville Salute, explained that the Salute had originally intended for the fireworks to be at Knoch Park from the get go. But the pandemic caused them to cancel their inaugural event, so they moved them to Frontier Sports Complex for better social distancing and to ensure that Naperville still had some type of fireworks display. Uncertainty as to what state regulations would be in 2021 kept them there again that year.
“It did require a lot of logistical planning to have events 12 miles apart from each other. And I understand that shouldn’t be the concern of the general public. But it is difficult to host events in two separate locations, specifically this year when we are planning to have entertainment the same night as the fireworks,” said Clemen.
Clemen noted that it would be much easier to shift police and fire crews across the street from the salute to the fireworks at Knoch Park, and said the group had gotten verbal agreements from all parties involved, including District 203, Edward Hospital and the Naperville Cemetery . She also voiced concerns that if the fireworks remained in south Naperville, the public would have to choose one event or the other.
But some commissioners said they had received public feedback pushing for the event to continue at Frontier Sports Complex. During public comment, a letter was read from one such resident who pointed out issues with lack of parking, restricted viewing areas and obstructed views at the Knoch Park location.
Park Board Commissioner Rhonda Ansier expressed her preference for the Frontier Sports Complex location as well.
“That’s a location that a lot of people really like, there’s a lot of space, you can watch in or out of your car so it still gives a lot of options to people for all their different reasons for how they want to view the fireworks , So it seems it’s a bit more accessible there than a smaller area at Knoch Park that’s going to be a little more crowded,” said Ansier.
Support For Salute
Park Board Commissioner Rich Janor said he thought the board should support the salute’s wishes, noting that the number of emails they had received on the topic was less than ten.
“Where we as commissioners think is the best location is totally beside the point. They stepped up, they’re a nonprofit, they filled a void in the community, it’s their event, they are making a request, the request is reasonable, staff and 203 and the other organizations are on board. I think it would be, it would negatively impact their event, which is not fair to them in my opinion, to separate it,” said Janor.
Taking Over Fireworks
After further discussion, commissioners began considering the prospect of separating the fireworks from The Naperville Salute, and having the park district take on the responsibilities.
Park District Executive Director Brad Wilson said the district was already contributing $8,500 a year to fireworks. The remainder of the money for the estimated $50,000 to $60,000 cost comes from the City of Naperville and SECA funds awarded to Naperville Responds for Veterans, which runs The Naperville Salute.
“When we look at logistics, the park district has been heavily involved with the salute as well as the City of Naperville in the planning of the fireworks each year,” said Wilson.
Wilson said the responsibilities for the fireworks could be picked up and taken care of internally by the park district.
Vote For Frontier As Location
The board took an initial vote to change a line item in the amendment, which would hand off responsibilities for the fireworks to the Naperville Park District, which would take over the pyrotechnics company contract with the cooperation of Naperville Responds for Veterans, and handle all the logistics. That passed in a 4-2 vote, with Janor and Josh McBroom in opposition.
The subsequent vote to pass the updated amendment passed unanimously.
The passed amendment also gave the okay to the addition of one day to the Salute, which will be held July 1 through 4. The fireworks are slated for July 3.
Naperville News 17’s Kim Pirc reports.
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