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posted: 7/1/2014 12:48 PM

Join Great Lakes Naval Station to celebrate Independence Day

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  • Great Lakes Naval Station's July Fourth celebration returns to Ross Field Thursday, July 3, and Friday, July 4.

      Great Lakes Naval Station's July Fourth celebration returns to Ross Field Thursday, July 3, and Friday, July 4.
    Courtesy of Naval Station Great Lakes

  • Crowds gather getting ready for fireworks at a previous Great Lakes Naval Station July Fourth celebration.

      Crowds gather getting ready for fireworks at a previous Great Lakes Naval Station July Fourth celebration.
    Courtesy of Naval Station Great Lakes

  • Truman Anderson gets help from his dad, Navy LCDR Scott Anderson, as they play a game during Great Lakes Naval Station's 100th anniversary celebration in 2011.

       Truman Anderson gets help from his dad, Navy LCDR Scott Anderson, as they play a game during Great Lakes Naval Station's 100th anniversary celebration in 2011.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer, 2011

 
Great Lakes Naval Station submission

Join the Great Lakes Naval Station in celebrating freedom and patriotism at one of Lake County's largest Fourth of July celebrations with two days of music, fun and fireworks on Ross Field

The event begins from 4 to 11 p.m. Thursday, July 3, and continues from 3 to 10 p.m. Friday, July 4. The celebration is free for all ages.

A full music lineup Thursday on the "Rock, White & Blue" main stage features Dory Drive, The LoveHammers, Royal Bliss and one of the legendary rock bands of all time, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts.

In addition, everyone is welcome to participate in the nighttime Firecracker Rock & Run (5K run/walk) at 8:15 p.m. Runners may register now at active.com, or go to www.mwrgl.com.

The evening ends with a fireworks show starting about 10:30 p.m., immediately after the Blackhearts performance.

On Friday, July 4, festivalgoers will enjoy more live music throughout the day with bands Transformation, Scarletta, 7th Heaven, and Liberty Call, the Navy Band Great Lakes Showband.

The day and this festival is not complete until the fireworks show lights up Ross Field at 9:30 p.m.

On both days, a full schedule of live family entertainment acts are on the schedule featuring jugglers, clowns, balloons, magic, music and more. Children of all ages will have plenty to do in the "Kids Zone" featuring hands-on activities. Plus, Red Bull athlete Terry Adams will present a BMX stunt bike show both days.

More fun is in store at the "Fitness Experience," designed for Zumba lovers and those who seek a challenging obstacle course.

Other activities at the festival include carnival rides and games; bingo with prizes; the Marketplace offering specialty exhibitor booths; a paintball arena; life-size games with checkers and Jenga; and roving entertainment and costumed characters.

An abundance of festival food and beverages from local area vendors will be available on-site.

For full details, go to www.mwrgl.com or the Naval Station Great Lakes 4th of July Facebook page.

Great Lakes Naval Station is reviving the Fourth of July festival that was scrubbed last year due to the federal government's mandatory budget cuts, called the sequester. Similar to past years, organizers project 35,000 to 40,000 attendees during the bash's two days on the base between Lake Bluff and North Chicago.

The base typically is off-limits to the public. Fourth of July celebrations were primarily internal and for military families and civilian employees, with some invited guests, after the base opened July 1, 1911. The party opened to the public in the mid-1990s, went on hiatus after the 2001 terrorist attacks, and resumed for a five-year stretch in 2008.

Great Lakes has the Navy's only boot camp and technical training school for surface warfare. More than 20,000 military and civilian personnel work, train and live aboard the installation.

Officials said corporate donations and money from other private sources -- not federal tax dollars -- have covered festival expenses other than security and protection. Military officials said the costs to ensure base safety couldn't be absorbed during last year's financial uncertainty.

• Staff writer Bob Susnjara contributed to this report.

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