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updated: 7/5/2014 7:09 PM

Elgin officials: Despite glitch, July 4 celebration a success

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By all accounts, Elgin's Fourth of July celebration was a success despite a last-minute relocation of the fireworks.

The concert and fireworks combo event at Festival Park, sponsored by Grand Victoria Casino in conjunction with the city, was attended by thousands of people, Elgin Mayor David Kaptain said.

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"It was just great," he said. "I think people had a good time, and that's what it was all about."

The event ran smoothly, Elgin Police Cmdr. Ana Lalley said. All city departments involved in the event will take part in a debriefing meeting Monday, she said.

The fireworks were supposed to go off from a barge in the Fox River, but were relocated to the National Street bridge because a tow line snapped and the barge had to be pushed ashore, City Manager Sean Stegall said.

Police and fire officials, after consulting with the casino, made a last-minute decision to close National Street at about 5:30 p.m., Stegall said. The fireworks started on time and were over by 9:40 p.m., with National Street reopening by 10:20 p.m., he said.

"The concerts were outstanding, and (the view of) the fireworks from all over downtown was spectacular," Stegall said. "With the size of the crowd, there were no injuries to report from our medical branch, and no problems out on the water."

Traffic was managed extremely well, both Kaptain and Stegall said.

"That's what I found to be potentially the most remarkable thing. Within an hour or so, they had the entire area clear," Stegall said.

Kaptain said it took him only 15 minutes to get back to his home on Elgin's west side.

Some residents, however, said they experienced traffic-related issues.

Resident Cathy Sheahan said the event was great until she was stuck for nearly 40 minutes trying to exit the Grand Victoria Casino's garage.

Resident Debbie Carretto Miller said she couldn't get downtown because National Street was closed. Still, "I applaud whoever put in the work to bring (the fireworks) back," she said.

The city last held Fourth of July fireworks at the Elgin Sports Complex in 2008, and last held fireworks downtown for Fox Fire Fest in 2009.

Michael Copeland, executive director of the Elgin Technology Center, called the event "a magical night."

"It was an amazing thing to see all these people down there, it was like the perfect kickoff to Riverside Promenade," he said. "Nobody knew what to expect. Hopefully we do it again next year."

Councilman John Prigge, who last week expressed skepticism that traffic and crowd management would be successful, said he was glad to be wrong.

"Judging by the response I've heard on Facebook and from people who called me, this experience is one of the greatest that you've ever had in Elgin," he said. "It sounds like my concerns were unfounded, and I couldn't be happier."

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