Naperville Salute organizers eye expansion to four days, different fireworks site

Organizers of the Naperville Salute Fourth of July celebration aim to expand the event to four days this year and move the fireworks display from Frontier Park to a site closer to Rotary Hill and downtown Naperville.

While park district board members are fine with a four-day event, board President Marie Todd expressed concern at Thursday's meeting about moving the fireworks from Frontier Park to a location like Knoch Park, which she believes would cause logistic issues.

"It doesn't seem like that Knoch Park area is one that we can easily get a lot of people to," Todd said. "You've got to figure out where we're going to park them, or where do we put all the people who are going to view it. Versus, where are you going to shoot off the fireworks?

"I realize they want it close to Rotary Hill, but I'm not sure that it makes a whole lot of sense for us to be doing that," she said.

Naperville Park District Executive Director Brad Wilson notified board members at Thursday's meeting that an amendment to the Naperville Salute agreement with the Naperville Responds for Veterans group will be included on a future agenda. A three-year agreement was reached in 2021, but each year the park district board must amend the dates and location.

Wilson said the Naperville Salute, which spanned three days last year, would expand to four days starting Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Rotary Hill. The event would conclude at another site on July Fourth.

Last year's event was held for two days at Rotary Hill, and the final day shifted to Frontier Park in south Naperville for the fireworks. NRFV organizers, however, want the two sites closer together.

"It's logistically challenging for them to have two separate areas in the community that they are essentially running the logistics for," Wilson said.

Wilson said the NRFV suggested Knoch Park or nearby Sportsman Park as the new fireworks site. A shuttle bus system, similar to the one used during Ribfest, would be needed to account for the number of people attending.

Todd, however, said Frontier Park was a better site for the fireworks show because of the large amount of parking, the ability for crowds to spread out and the good views of the fireworks show from far away. According to Wilson, new potential launching spots for the fireworks could be the Naperville Central High School varsity softball or baseball fields north of Knoch Park.

The land is owned by the park district but leased to Naperville Unit District 203. An agreement would be required with the school district, the city and the Naperville Cemetery Association, which would need to allow fallout from the fireworks to land on its nearby property.

"It's still all being explored (by the NRFV), and still more discussion on that," Wilson said. "When we look at larger fireworks shows, what is the fallout area? And that's something that the Naperville Fire Department also weighs in heavily on, to make sure that there's an adequate area for that."

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