Most fireworks shows are back, and they're more expensive than ever
Those who like to celebrate Independence Day by taking in their local fireworks display should take note: Most every fireworks show in the suburbs will be back, and some organizers promise they'll be better than ever.
Most every municipality and organization canceled Fourth of July fireworks in 2020 due to pandemic restrictions on mass gatherings.
One of the few sanctioned displays in the suburbs that year was put on by the Schaumburg Boomers. Because baseball was canceled and gatherings were disallowed, organizers needed a workaround and ended up hosting three drive-in shows, General Manager Michael Larson said.
By the time 2021 came around, pent-up demand for fireworks helped drive fans to Wintrust Field. Larson said that over Fourth of July weekend the team set both single-game and weekend attendance records.
Elsewhere, organizers of the Palatine Jaycees Hometown Fest said the group wanted to make the fireworks show, which usually is closer to 20 minutes, last 25 minutes and include a special three-minute grand finale after canceling fireworks the last two years.
"We were willing to spend extra money," said Megan O'Brien, one of the festival co-chairs.
Before the pandemic, Libertyville hadn't spent more than $18,500 on a fireworks show.
Village Administrator Kelly Amidei said the village planned a $20,000 show in 2020, but after it was canceled officials opted for a $30,000 show in 2021, in part because the fireworks vendor allowed the village to carry over $10,000 from the canceled show.
"We were very pleased with last year's show," Amidei said, adding that this year's show also is planned to cost $30,000.
One of the rare exceptions to the trend is Arlington Heights. Fireworks usually illuminated the night sky above Arlington Park, which has since closed, and no other group in town has a fireworks show planned this year.
Not all organizers decided to make this year's show bigger, but the market likely will force them pay more money.
Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association, said overall costs are up more than 35% industrywide because of unprecedented demand amid the rising price of supplies, shipping and labor.
Lisa Leonteos, executive coordinator for the village of Wheeling, said despite not increasing the size or duration of the show, the village will pay $34,500 this year compared to $30,000 last year.
And Des Plaines will pay $22,000 for the same scope of show put on last year for $20,000, said Maureen Stern, city director of media services.