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Annual Glen Oak Park 3rd of July fireworks show canceled for 2024

Fireworks lights the sky to usher in the new year at the Sai Rock hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, Monday, Jan 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Gideon Maundu)
Gideon Maundu/AP
Fireworks lights the sky to usher in the new year at the Sai Rock hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, Monday, Jan 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Gideon Maundu)

The annual July 3rd fireworks show at Glen Oak Park won't happen this year.

The Peoria Park District board voted 4 to 2 on Wednesday to cancel the fireworks for this year. This comes after law enforcement and neighbors raised safety concerns about youth unrest at the event.

Board president Robert Johnson and vice president Alex Sierra voted no. Reagan Hill abstained. The park board majority also directed staff to come up with an alternative proposal for activities at Glen Oak Park this year, and to establish a group of stakeholders to reimagine what a 2025 event looks like.

Peoria Police Chief Eric Echevarria said there's no there's no fight between the police department and park district. He said he loves the city's "phenomenal" park district, but stands by his call to cancel the fireworks.

"I've never asked to cancel all events. And I never even said cancel this whole event. Cancel what's in the evening, the fireworks portion of it. And let's plan on something else. There's other options here," he said.

Peoria Public Schools director of school safety Demario Boone's team also works the 3rd of July fireworks show. He backed Echevarria's plea.

"One of the things that everybody's bringing up are issues with our youth. It seems like the Peoria problem is that the youth are more organized than we are. And I think that's kind of what's taking over everything," he said.

Park board member Tim Bertschy said the show costs betwen $105,000 and $110,000 a year, plus the roughly $70,000 in overtime costs for the Peoria police. He said the park district heard from 28 people in favor of keeping the fireworks, but also received a petition with more than 1,000 signatures calling for them to end.

"When I have 1,000 people from the community say it to me, vote this way, that's meaningful. It's incredibly meaningful," he said.

East Bluff resident Dillon Boyce said he understands the concerns, but the fireworks are a fabric of the community.

"I just beg you not to give up on the youth, not to give up on these fireworks, and not to give up on our city. Let's just agree to keep it in our community," he said.

Jessie McGowan, another East Bluff resident, said he believes once the fireworks are postponed for one year, they'll never come back.

"Let's keep the fireworks going. Let's do one more thing. Let's get the kids on board. Let's get some adults out there, from the community out there. Between the kids and the adults I think we can manage to keep this fireworks going," he said. "Let's try one more year. If it don't work, then we can determine that something else, but let's keep it going one more year."

The park district is asking employees to come up with an alternative event at Glen Oak Park on July 3 for this year, and to convene a group of community stakeholders to discuss reimagining the event in 2025.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.