Everything you need to know for the Fourth of July around Chicago

Written By Sun-Times Wire Posted: 07/03/2014, 09:45am

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Happy Fourth of July!

Whether you’re trying to get out of town or trying to find something to do in town to celebrate America’s independence, we’ve got you covered. Click through the links below for live travel updates, fireworks and parade times and other good reads.

Safety first
Stories worth reading
Traveling in, around and out of the city
Fireworks and parades
Concerts, festivals and more

Safety first

Chicago police and fire officials are reminding residents to make safety a priority when celebrating the upcoming July 4 holiday.

All fireworks, including sparklers, are illegal in the city of Chicago and can only be used by individuals holding permits for special displays, according to a statement by the police department.

“Bottle rockets and fireworks can land on rooftops or porches and pose a serious risk of igniting fires that can quickly spread,” Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Jose Santiago said in a statement. [More details]

Stories worth reading

Fourth of July a time for reflection and renewal
Double derecho storm forces BBQ plans to go up in smoke
Delight overtakes doubt after veterans take Honor Flight
Tips to keep the Fourth of July friendly for furry friends

U.S. Skies and Roads Busy Ahead Of Memorial Day Weekend

Traffic jams up on the Kennedy Expressway leaving the city for the Memorial Day weekend on May 23, 2014, in Chicago. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Traveling (good luck with that)

The CTA is adding extra services to accommodate the crowds this holiday weekend.

Increased service on the Red, Blue, Brown and Orange lines will begin early Friday evening. Longer trains will operate on the Red, Blue, Green, Pink, Orange and Brown lines on Friday and Saturday through at least midnight. The CTA will also increase bus service towards Navy Pier, downtown and the lakefront.

Don’t forget! Ventra cards are now the law of the CTA land as of July 1. Head to Ventra’s website if you need to reload your card; better to do it now than when everyone else gets the same idea.

O’Hare and Midway are expecting a 4 percent increase in travelers compared to last year. [More details]

Nearly 35 million drivers expected to hit the road across the country. Gas prices are at a six-year high for this time of year. [More details]

Here’s a long list of the 40-plus IDOT construction zones you’ll drive through over July 4th.

Live updates and delays from O’Hare, Midway, CTA, Metra and IDOT:

Three-year-old Wesley Studee of Chicago watches the 2013 Fourth of July Parade in Evanston. | Brian O'Mahoney/Sun-Times Media Three-year-old Wesley Studee of Chicago watches the 2013 Fourth of July Parade in Evanston. | Brian O’Mahoney/Sun-Times Media

Fireworks and parades

You can’t have a true Independence Day celebration with out some fireworks, with Chicago’s main show at 9:30 p.m. at Navy Pier. You can watch those above the fray at the Freedom Fest on the Navy Pier Rooftop starting at 6:30 p.m. with some barbecue eats and DJ beats. Or even escape the crowds of people on the pier all together with lunch and dinner cruises with Odyssey, giving you a view of the fireworks on the lake.

In the suburbs:
Parades in the Fox Valley
West suburban fireworks list
South suburban fireworks shows

Dave Matthews of the Dave Matthews Band performs live for fans at the 2014 Byron Bay Bluesfest on April 21, 2014, in Byron Bay, Australia. | Matt Roberts/Getty Images Dave Matthews of the Dave Matthews Band performs live for fans at the 2014 Byron Bay Bluesfest on April 21, 2014, in Byron Bay, Australia. | Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Concerts, festivals and more

Not into the whole fireworks-and-parade thing? Dave Matthews Band, Gretchen Wilson, an Independence Day Salute and more offer an array of concerts worth celebrating. [More details]

If grilling is not your idea of relaxation on the nation’s birthday, have other people do it for you by grabbing some ribs at the Windy City Ribfest, starting at noon on Friday. Many eateries are taking the day off but check out this map for places that will be welcoming you with open arms (and bars) for some holiday food and spirits.

Nothing keeps the people going as well as dance music. The inaugural Riverwest Music Festival (taking the place of the cancelled Wavefront Music Festival) this weekend, as well as the Chosen Few Picnic Weekend, featuring Chicago house music favorites, will keep the party going. If EDM is not your thing, there are a host of other concerts all happening this weekend.

For some fun off the beaten path, you can hit up the Chicago History Museum for their 55th Annual Fourth of July Celebration, including speakers, patriotic music and reading of the Declaration of Independence. Or, you could get some laughs with Second City’s Summer Blockbuster show with Chicago summertime-themed sketches. You could even enjoy a Cirque Shanghai: Warriors show at Navy Pier before diving into the other festivities there.
If you’re hosting the party, check out these food safety tips.

And if you’re bringing treats, note: Apple pie may be as American as the Fourth of July, but it probably wasn’t on the table when the holiday first began.

Need something awesome to wear? How about these U.S. of Awesome T shirts, making patriotic T shirts cool?

Don’t forget about your pets!

Emily McFarlan Miller and Veronica DeStefano contributed to this report.