Winnemac Fireworks Went Off, Neighbor Dispute Does Not – Photo Gallery

By Mike Fourcher | Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fireworks from last night's unofficial Winnemac Park display. Credit: Flickr/cj171

Just as it was before the Fourth, neighborhood opinion seems to be split on whether last night’s fireworks in Winnemac Park were a good thing or a bad thing.

“I don’t want to be a killjoy, but you’re scaring the bejeezus out of children and dogs,” said park neighbor Dave Lundy this morning. “What I want to know is what it will take for the city to consider this a problem?”

“Last night, the best place in town for fireworks wasn’t Navy Pier. It wasn’t North Avenue Beach. It was Winnemac Park,” wrote neighbor Kate Silver on her blog this morning.

A Chicago Police spokesman said there were no arrests or reported disturbances at the park last night. People who attended the fireworks said they were going well into the night, past 11:00 p.m. on numerous ballfields, while Chicago Police squad cars stood by visibly in the park and a neighborly atmosphere settled over the spectators.

Center Square Journal writer Patty Wetli attended the fireworks and says there were, “Easily hundreds, possibly more,” spectators watching the unofficial show.

One of many piles of empty firework casings left in Winnemac Park this morning. Credit: Mike Fourcher.

“The fireworks were quite impressive this year and we really enjoyed them,” said Jennifer Thornbury, who watched with her husband. “People brought their kids, dogs, blankets and lawnchairs. Everything went smoothly, people were friendly and chatted with their neighbors. We felt very safe and secure and hope the fireworks are allowed to continue each year.”

Chris Jansen, who shot photos of the fireworks last night said, “There were a few misfires as you’d expect and a few people who’d had a little too much to drink. But overall, it was a great crowd and a lot of people enjoying the show and getting to talk to their neighbors.”

This morning the park ballfields were strewn with piles of spent fireworks casings, beer cans and broken bottles.

“No ambulances showed up, so it’s safe to assume no fingers were lost, no eyes blown out. This was a great Fourth,” said Silver.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rich-Forsythe/1359191336 Rich Forsythe

    I have a dog who is afraid of storms and fireworks and I am also a father of 2 children. We love the Winnemac fireworks!! It’s one of the many great things about living in the neighborhood. We walk there, run into neighbors, classmates and always enjoy the BEST display in the city. As a resident of Lincoln Square for nearly 20years, I would really be disappointed if this went away.

    As for the dog, it’s not like there wouldn’t be fireworks if they stopped the Winnemac display. If you don’t want to hear fireworks on the 4th of July, leave the city and go camping. But that wouldn’t guarantee anything either. This 4th of July thing is celebrated throughout the country I hear, something related to our country’s beginnings. At any rate, every year, even before I knew about Winnemac I would prepare my dog for the 4th. We turn up the stereo and the window ac, put on her Thundershirt and get through the night. 

    And as for the pics of debris, yes it’s there in the morning. You can’t clean up in the dark and it’s gone by the end of the next day. Show me one popular park in the city that isn’t overflowing with garbage after a holiday weekend. A lot of people live in this city and they all don’t have big back yards to celebrate in. That’s why we have PUBLIC Parks. 

  • http://twitter.com/PeekrMan Peekr Man

    The display of a few of last nights’ participants was impressive, as they obviously had access to professional-style fireworks and used appropriate techniques for exploding them. However, for every one of the guys who knew what he was doing, there were at least 10 who did not. Any time you see people light their shells and run away, you can tell they should NOT be doing it. I witnessed at least four tipped tubes shooting lit fireworks along the ground, a couple of which went directly into crowds of people. If no one was burned, it was pure dumb luck. It seems as if people have discovered that they can obtain major fireworks and come to Winnemac Park on the 4th of July to set them off without fear of arrest. It is no longer a couple of groups who want to put on a show for their neighbors. As fun as fireworks are, and as much I enjoy them, this out of control display needs to end. Is it going to take someone getting severely burned before the authorities do something? I know people who have been struck by malfunctioning professional-style fireworks. The University of Iowa Hospital burn unit had three new patients one time, two of those were hospitalized for over a week, one of them had to have several follow-up skin graft operations. The lives of those people were changed, and not in a good way, as a direct result of irresponsible handling of big time fireworks. Unfortunately, it looks like that will happen at Winnemac one of these years.

  • http://twitter.com/sidedownaudio Joshua Wentz

    I have to say, normally I’m ambivalent to the Winnemac Park fireworks (people like them, that’s fine) but last night they seemed to go on way too long with no sense of composition, which to me is a rather tedious way to shoot colored explosions into the sky.
    Rich is right that the trash gets dealt with quickly.  The park looks like a shameful, revolting garbage heap the day after, but it doesn’t last – they do a great job with cleanup.  I do like that this event is in my neighborhood, even if I don’t enjoy them personally.

    I’ve never ventured fully into the park during the display because there is definitely some sketchy, downright dangerous and drunken action going on.  I recommend staying outside the fence if you don’t want to be showered with sparks or shot with a bottle rocket.

  • http://twitter.com/amandaccrowley Amanda Crowley

    I saw an awful lot of happy children and dogs at the fireworks…

  • Anonymous

    I strongly agree with you, Peekr Man! Let’s not wait for that moment wherein someone has to be hurt  before authorities will take proper actions.  Fireworks do really liven any celebration; however, can harm any individual who’s not even handling a single firecracker. I grew up with this stuff, but I just can’t bear to see some lives changed due to malfunctioned fireworks. Think of  a celebration where there are zero casualties reported.  It would be more merrier, right?

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