First Fourth Fest fireworks draws more than 30,000 spectators
By Emily McFarlan firstname.lastname@example.org July 5, 2012 8:22PM
Chloe Colsant, 3, did not need any help from father winning a goldfish from a carnival game at the Northwest Fourth Fest in Hoffman Estates on Wednesday July 4, 2012. | Katherine Peters~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 7, 2012 6:28AM
HOFFMAN ESTATES — The first year of an event, “you never know how it will turn out,” according to Cherie Murphy, director of community engagement for the city of Elgin.
But mayors of two of the communities sponsoring the first Northwest Fourth Fest at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates already are calling it a success.
That comes after about 35,000 people turned out for the Fourth of July fireworks display Wednesday night at the five-day festival’s kickoff, according to estimates from the village of Hoffman Estates. The fest continues through Sunday at the arena at Interstate 90 and Beverly Road.
Turnout was “good but not spectacular” earlier in the day as temperatures inched above 100 degrees in the area, according to Hoffman Estates Village President Bill McLeod. But the last few hours, before the fireworks launched at about 9:30 p.m., “people were streaming in,” McLeod said.
And many more undoubtedly watched the fireworks — the official display for Elgin, Hoffman Estates, Hanover Park and Hanover Township, according to Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain. He had heard unconfirmed reports of cars parked along streets in Elgin to watch, Kaptain said.
While there was some grumbling about the shortness of the fireworks display (15 minutes) and traffic jams afterward taking spectators 90 minutes or more to exit parking lots, the four communities were luckier than some Chicago-area towns which had to cancel their shows because of the super dry conditions.
Kaptain said he had talked to people Wednesday from outside those four communities. Working at the wristband tent near the beer sales, the Elgin mayor said he met people from Schaumburg and Algonquin, even out of state. About 15 to 20 percent were from Elgin, he said.
McLeod had invited Kaptain to participate in Hoffman Estates’ Fourth of July festival, which had outgrown its village hall, after the city and village collaborated to open a park on their border, McLeod said.
With many municipalities cancelling their fireworks displays because of the cost, he said, “it seemed to be a natural.”
“I think it’s really the way to go. I think you’ll see more of this type of activity and a lot more of consolidating services,” he said.
Elgin hasn’t hosted a fireworks display in four years, according to Kaptain. That alone would cost the city at least $65,000, he said.
The city chipped in $15,000 for the festival and fireworks, some police Wednesday night and some of the “multicultural entertainment” from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, including Lao Dancers, the Agape Dancers from St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church and the Second Baptist Church of Elgin Choir, according to Murphy.
When the festival ends, the “smoke clears,” and “all the numbers come in,” Kaptain said, the four communities will meet again to define their contributions to a future Northwest Fourth-Fest in an intergovernmental agreement.
“I don’t think there’s any question we should revisit it” again as part of Elgin’s Fourth of July celebration next year, he said.
And McLeod agreed: “We did well this year, and we’ll definitely do better next year.”
Staff writer Mike Danahey contributed to this story.