Elgin, casino bringing back fireworks this July 4
For the first time in seven years, Fourth of July fireworks will be held this summer in Elgin, barring a last-minute about-face by city council members.
City council members voted at a committee of the whole meeting Wednesday night to partner with Grand Victoria Casino for a concert and fireworks show at Festival Park.
The council is expected to give final approval in two weeks. Council members Terry Gavin and John Prigge turned down the idea.
The festival will include entertainment, food and beverage vendors booked by the casino. The city will prove police, fire, public works and land management personnel at a projected $31,000 cost.
Entertainment will likely be a '70s or '80s rock band, Elgin City Manager Sean Stegall said. The bands Loverboy and the Doobie Brothers were floated as possibilities by casino officials.
"It will be more of a community festival type event," he said.
Councilwoman Tish Powell agreed.
"(The casino's) name is on this as much as ours is, and I know they've done a good job with events in the past," Powell said.
There will be a $5 entrance fee for anyone over age 12, but people will be able to view the fireworks for free from Riverside Drive, which will be open by July, and from across the Fox River, council members said.
In the last two years, the city partnered with Hoffman Estates for its Northwest Fourth-Fest at a cost of $15,000 cash plus about $5,000 in personnel.
If the city had decided to hold its own fireworks show, the cost would have been nearly $68,000.
Prigge said he was concerned about traffic and parking problems downtown. He suggested waiting until next year, while taking a closer look at having the fireworks elsewhere in Elgin, or possibly two smaller shows at local parks.
Downtown is easily accessible via foot and public transportation, Councilwoman Anna Moeller said.
Grand Victoria Casino held its first outdoor concert series at Festival Park last year.
The casino is willing to try the Fourth of July concert and fireworks event for the next three years, although that hinges on the city budgeting for that in future years, Stegall said.
The city's 2014 budget includes $23,000 for fireworks. Another $25,000 is budgeted for special events.
Gavin said it's "irresponsible" to spend money on fireworks when the city is approaching $1 million in overtime costs due to the harsh winter.
Powell pointed out the city is saving about $40,000 this year after eliminating the free leaf bag program for residents.
The city last held Fourth of July fireworks in 2008 and last held fireworks at Fox Fire Fest in 2009. Both events later were eliminated due to budget constraints.
"Six years ago this was the number one desire of the community, to bring fireworks back," Elgin Mayor David Kaptain said. "Let's give it a try and see how it works out."
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