Here Are The Few Public Celebrations Of This Year’s July 4th

Photo of fireworks over chicago on fourth of july
Remember this? Fireworks over Lake Michigan. Kiichiro Sato / Associated Press
Photo of fireworks over chicago on fourth of july
Remember this? Fireworks over Lake Michigan. Kiichiro Sato / Associated Press

Here Are The Few Public Celebrations Of This Year’s July 4th

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Most official Fourth of July celebrations are canceled. And, you may be feeling cranky after weeks of DIY firework displays scaring your dogs and children. Across the country, the usual gamut of big-tickets events have gone virtual: The National Park Service is offering virtual tours of national monuments, including a 360 visit to the Statue of Liberty and this e-trip to Independence Hall in Philadelphia. (This computer modeled recreation of the Liberty Bell’s E flat is actually kind of cool.)

But for Chicagoans who still have the energy, we’ve compiled a list of ways to celebrate the nation’s favorite holiday besides just, you know, sitting at home with your White Claw and sparklers.


  • Sorry, Navy Pier’s annual show is canceled, but the pier itself will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at limited capacity.

  • The thing this year: drive-in fireworks in the parking lots of sports stadiums. At the SeatGeek stadium in Bridgeview watch them at 9:15 p.m on July 3. On July 4, fireworks will go off outside Memorial Stadium in Joliet at dusk. And at the Frontier Sports Complex in Naperville, watch from 9:30 to 10 p.m.

  • In Orland Park, the suburb’s annual 5K on July 3 and fireworks at 9:30 p.m. on July 4 at Centennial Park are still a go but at reduced capacity. Watch for crowds — many nearby suburbs have canceled their celebrations.

The lakefront, Millennium Park and other open spaces

  • Beaches east of Lake Shore Drive are closed, with red flags signaling that swimming is not allowed and lifeguards are not on duty. Chicago Park District security and the city’s social distancing ambassadors will be on duty to wag their fingers at all fun making, including grilling, within closed areas on the lakefront.

  • Neighborhood parks, the Lakefront Trail, the 606 and downtown hotspots like Maggie Daley and Millennium parks will be open.

  • Millennium Park’s Great Lawn is also open — with social distancing circles newly painted on the grass within which small groups may spread out and lounge.

  • The Forest Preserves of Cook County will also be open, but parking lots at several popular sports are closed to prevent overcrowding. Cookouts and picnics are prohibited. Public bathrooms are closed. Check the website for updated information.

Direct to your living room

  • On July 4, Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is organizing two virtual concerts: one for dance music and another for patriotic oldies. The first, starting at noon, is a live-streamed dance music festival that includes House music performer Byron Stingily, Carla Prather of Poi Dog Pondering and special guest DJ Deon Cole, the comedian and actor well known for his role in the ABC sitcom Black-ish. The second, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., is a digital version of the Grant Park Music Festival’s usual Fourth of July programming, featuring the Grant Park Orchestra performing bangers like “American Flute Salute,” “God Bless America,” “America the Beautiful” and the “1812 Overture.”

  • From 5 to 6:30 p.m., also on July 4, DCASE is hosting a virtual live salsa lesson and invites you to form socially distanced dance parties in your home or backyard. More details here.

  • Evanston is going fully virtual this year. The township is streaming a behind-the-scenes peek at its Fourth of July programming at 11 a.m., followed by a virtual parade at 2 p.m. and fireworks show at 8 p.m.

Vivian McCall is a news intern at WBEZ. Follow her @MVivianMcCall.