Jul 6, 2023 - News

Fireworks fallout after Chicago's Fourth of July celebrations

garbage on grass

Discarded fireworks litter the area near the Belmont Rocks in Lakeview on Wednesday morning. Photo courtesy of Colin McMahon

Despite state and city laws against fireworks, the city received thousands of fireworks complaints from Monday through early Wednesday, Chicago officials said.

Why it matters: Many residents are questioning the city's efforts to stop illegal shows that often cause injury and sometimes death.

Driving the news: The Chicago Fire Department received 300 calls Tuesday night and reported evidence that fireworks may have caused a large fire that damaged multiple garages in a neighborhood near Midway Airport.

  • Some city leaders attempted to get in front of the chaos, to no avail. Ald. Andre Vasquez tried to prevent a big illegal display in his ward at Winnemac Park, which proceeded albeit in a smaller version.

Between the lines: It was also just last week that Canada wildfires pushed Chicago's air quality into dangerous zones, and the smoke from the fireworks certainly didn't help.

What they're saying: Police officers have to prioritize their responses, CPD interim superintendent Fred Waller said at a press conference Wednesday.

  • "If you say 'fireworks,' as opposed to 'someone with a gun' or 'somebody battering someone,' those types of calls are going to take priority over the fireworks," Waller said.

Vasquez told BlockClub that it's clear "the Park District and CPD kind of don't have the capacity — especially when you're thinking about all the activity that occurs on July 4 — to stop it."

  • "But it was a much smaller crowd than in years before, which I think is a positive thing," Vasquez said of the Winnemac show.

The big picture: The popularity of fireworks is only growing, with sales expected to grow by $100 million from last year, Axios' Hope King reports.

What's ahead: Chicago Chicago Fire Department commissioner Annette Nance-Holt said some legislators in Springfield are trying to legalize fireworks statewide, and she asserted that lawmakers need to be reminded that "even sparklers are dangerous."

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