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East Peoria Dissuades Spectators From Viewing Riverfront Fireworks Show

Tanya Koonce
Peoria Public Radio

East Peoria officials want residents to avoid gathering on their side of the Illinois River on Sunday to watch the Fourth of July fireworks show at Kelleher's Irish Pub.

The display will be part of the Family Fun Fest fundraiser to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Peoria, with the traditional, large-scale “Red, White, and Boom” presentation canceled for a second straight year.

East Peoria Mayor John Kahl notes visibility from the east side of the river will be limited, and the city will not provide the usual conveniences.

“If you go along the riverfront across from where the display will be set off, it's covered in foliage,” said Kahl, stressing East Peoria took no part in approving the Kelleher’s display. “We will have no restrooms available, no vendors, no music. We simply don't want people to think that that is what they can expect when they come down here.”

Kahl said East Peoria did not budget for any Independence Day event expenses once the “Red, White, and Boom” show was canceled. Therefore, the city will bill Kelleher's owner Pat Sullivan for any associated public resource costs.

“Typically at the annual display, you're talking thousands and thousands of people that show up at the riverfront,” said Kahl. “So, of course, we budget and we plan accordingly with staff, from public works to fire to police. You have crowd control, you have traffic control, public safety concerns, health emergencies.

“In this particular case, when the decision was made in April, nothing was included in this fiscal year to host an event of that size.”

However, Sullivan said passing along those expenses will only hurt the youth organization.

“Basically, it's to the Boys & Girls Club; they'd be taking money right away from the tutors that we hire. That’s what it is doing,” said Sullivan, who is on the club’s board of directors. “From the Peoria side, they say it’s not that big of a deal. They’re going to be billing us, too, but it wasn’t that big of a deal.”

The fireworks display will necessitate closing the Bob Michel Bridge between 9 and 10 p.m., which was authorized by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

“The only thing we asked (East Peoria) to do is help shut down Bob Michel Bridge for an hour. I don't know where they're getting that it's going to be a big, big, big deal,” said Sullivan. “When we first talked to them, we wanted to do (fireworks) off barges like the city's done in the past. We wanted that, but then we had seen the cost of all that and the Boys & Girls Club couldn't afford it.”

Sullivan said the display at Kelleher’s will last about 20 minutes and follow a 12-minute show at Dozer Park scheduled to start at 9 p.m. after the Peoria Chiefs game.

East Peoria recommends people attend publicly sanctioned displays in other communities such as Morton, Pekin, Chillicothe, and Eureka. Kahl said he doesn’t want to dampen the holiday, but he has to consider the best interests of the city.

“By no means are we raining on anyone's parade; I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and a safe one, and I look forward to next year,” he said. “I hope to be a part of the ‘Red, White and Boom,’ and bring it back bigger and better for everyone because I know that’s what people want.”

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Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.