Action taken at recent village council meetings will help Forest Park residents to a double dose of fun in July, with the return of a fireworks display on Independence Day and the third annual Music Fest on Madison Street, Friday through Sunday, July 21 through 23.
At the Feb. 13 meeting, the village council approved by a 3-0 vote (with two abstentions) a request from the Park District of Forest Park to seek voluntary contributions in support of its Independence Day fireworks in conjunction with vehicle sticker renewal notices. Commissioners Joseph Byrnes and Rachell Entler said they abstained because they both work for the park district. The vote came despite a similar request made by the Kiwanis Club during the public comment portion of the meeting.
At Monday’s meeting, the village council approved, by a 5-0 vote, the dates requested by the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce to hold Music Fest on Madison Street between Desplaines and Circle avenues.
When park district officials voted in 2012 to cancel the Independence Day fireworks display, they said it was a victim of its own success. At that time, Park Director Larry Piekarz said Forest Park’s fireworks display was so good that control of the throngs of spectators coming from neighboring suburbs was proving to be too challenging for local police, even with assistance from other departments.
“People couldn’t move and there were traffic problems,” he said, noting that some just stopped their cars in the middle of the street while they watched the display.
After the four-year hiatus, park district officials are bringing back the fireworks display, but on a smaller scale.
“We’re trying to do it in the safest and most fun way we can,” Piekarz said.
In addition to the fireworks display, entertainment that afternoon and evening will include the Circle of Fifths, performing at 4 p.m., and the Redmonds, performing at 6. In between, Piekarz said officials are planning a performance by a magician.
As in previous years, the softball field will be the location for the fireworks display. Piekarz said the park district’s previous pyrotechnics company is no longer in business, leading them to contract with Mad Bomber Fireworks Productions, which also provides the fireworks display in Oak Park. Noting the cost of fireworks has risen about 20 percent since 2012, Piekarz said the park district has budgeted $20,000 for the day’s festivities, the majority of which will be spent on the display.
Entler said park district officials are asking residents to make donations to help soften the bottom line. She added they have no target for donations and response from residents will not affect the size or magnitude of the fireworks display.
“We’re excited,” Piekarz said.
Music Fest, meanwhile, which will be promoted again by Star Events, will be held on the same schedule as last year’s event, from 5 to 11 p.m., July 21; noon to 11 p.m., July 22; and noon to 10 p.m., July 23. Star Events also promoted Music Fest in 2015 and 2016.
Admission to Music Fest will be $5 per person. The event will feature two stages, two beer gardens and food, as well as carnival games, arts and crafts, and a sidewalk sale of boutique, gallery and specialty items. Festivities on July 22 will include a number of family-friendly activities, including a giant slide, pony rides and face painting.
Laurie Kokenes, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said organizers are trying to add more local participation, especially entertainment.
“It’s all about building on the success of this enjoyable, safe event that was designed to drive folks to see Forest Park and showcase our downtown as well as the village as a whole,” she said. “We’re trying to offer something for everyone.
“We are working with local music schools for some of the slots early in the day and bringing back some of the same bands along with some new ones. Our continued goal is to increase local participation so Forest Park businesses are well represented.”