Celebrating the Fourth


Enjoy music and drinks at the Beer Garden on Navy Pier (Navy Pier/Miller
Enjoy music and drinks at the Beer Garden on Navy Pier (Navy Pier/Miller photo)

Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed lots of towns’ and parks’ Fourth of July celebrations in the Chicago area with most fireworks canceled including those at Navy Pier.

But many restaurants, particularly those with outdoor seating are open, cruises are going on area waterways, music is lifting spirits at some bars and eateries and you can tune into two concerts with live fireworks at  Capitol Fourth  from Washington D.C. and at CNN’s The Fourth in America streaming live from New York and Washington D.C. for subscribers on CNN.com’s homepage and via CNN’s apps for iOS and Android. It can also be viewed on CNNgo.



Try something different this Fourth of July weekend. Take a lunch or dinner cruise on the Odyssey on the Chicago River or Lake Michigan.

Navy Pier Restaurants and Music

Go over to Navy Pier, open 10 a.m. to midnight to eat outdoors at Harry Caray’s Tavern, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, and other outdoor spots. Find a seat at the Miller Lite Beer Garden for its “Live on the Lake” from 2-11 July 3 and all day on July 4. Stop at the Wave, Wall, Wax platform to hear DJs from 5pm to 7pm. Face coverings required. Visit Updates Navy Pier .


Capitol Fourth on PBS (Shot from cameras throughout the DC area compliments of Capitol Fourth)
Capitol Fourth on PBS (Shot from cameras throughout the DC area compliments of Capitol Fourth)

A Capitol Fourth

For great celebrity performances, meaningful tributes to heroes and spectacular fireworks go to your PBS station or online for Capitol Fourth. This year, the annual program has taped performances from 7 to 8:30 p.m. CT  followed by live fireworks.

“For four decades “A Capitol Fourth” has paid tribute to our nation’s birthday and the hopes and dreams of all Americans,” said Executive Producer Michael Colbert. “This year, our broadcast will reflect what we as a country have faced and the challenges ahead, while showcasing our message of inclusion, patriotism and love.”

Co-hosted by actor/ producer John Stamos (Netflix’s You, Fuller House, ER) and multi-platinum recording artist and TV, film and Broadway star Vanessa Williams, the program features Patti LaBelle; John Fogerty; Renée Fleming; The Temptations Trace Adkins; Andy Grammer, Yolanda Adams; Brantley Gilbert; Lauren Alaina; Brian Stokes Mitchell; Kelli O’Hara and Mandy Gonzalez (Hamilton, In the Heights); with National Symphony Orchestra under the direction Jack Everly.

The program can be heard on NPR member stations and will be streaming on Facebook, YouTube and www.pbs.org/a-capitol-fourth. It is followed by fireworks going off to Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.”


CNN The Fourth in America

Aired from 7  to 11 p.m. CT, T the program will be hosted by CNN’s Don Lemon from New York and CNN’s Dana Bash from Washington, DC.

Performers include Jewel, Barry Manilow, Martina McBride, Kenny Loggins, Andy Grammer, Carlos Santana and Cindy Blackman Santana, CeCe Winans, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, The O’Jays, Don McLean, Jesse Colin Young and Little Kids Rock, Billy Ray Cyrus, Burt Bacharach & Musicians from the Berklee College of Music, Harlem Gospel Choir.

In addition, there will be the original Broadway cast of Girl From the North Country, inspired by the Bob Dylan’s songs and the cast of Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of the Temptations.

Orchestral numbers are performed by “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, the US Navy Band and the US Army Field Band, the new York Philharmonic and youth symphonies from  San Francisco, Colorado, Houston, Chicago and New York.

Fireworks highlights from New York, Washington Houston, Jacksonville and Nashville will be shown throughout the program which will be available to subscribers on CNN.colm’s homepage and CNN’s apps for iOS and Android.



Three Fourth festival celebration ideas

Capitol Fourth on PBS (Shot from cameras throughout the DC area compliments of Capitol Fourth)
Capitol Fourth on PBS (Shot from cameras throughout the DC area compliments of Capitol Fourth)

How do you like to celebrate Independence Day? If in the Chicago area and looking for really spectacular fireworks, you are likely to find none better than the Aon Summer Fireworks’ July Fourth show at Navy Pier. You can make it an all-day Pier experience or go out on a boat to watch.

If you like the idea of saluting US troops, love entertainment and enjoy a good fireworks show but don’t want to deal with crowds or transportation concerns, there is a really good, gather-round-the-TV option.


Navy Pier

The fireworks are spectacular and Navy Pier is a fun destination with good skyline views, its famous  Centennial Wheel, games, shops, restaurants and entertainment in the Miller Lite Beer Garden.

The Pier does fill to capacity on the Fourth so go early. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the Fourth. Gates actually close when the pier is filled. but guests with advance tickets for shows or restaurants will be allowed on. See the Capacity and Transportation categories at Navy Pier.

Take advantage of public transportation  or the Pier’s free trolley service.  Offsite parking is cheaper than the Pier’s garages. In addition check the holiday’s Code of Conduct on the same site. For instance, no pets are allowed except service dogs because of the crowds.

Mercury Cruises will be doing a 3D fireworks event for July Fourth. (Leading Lady photo by Mercury Cruises)
Mercury Cruises will be doing a 3D fireworks event for July Fourth. (Leading Lady photo by Mercury Cruises)

Mercury Cruises

Watch the fireworks with 3D glasses aboard a Mercury Cruises boat. Mercury is hosting a 2. 5 hour lakefront, skyline tour that includes Chicago’s spectacular fireworks show off Navy Pier. Guests will be given 3D glasses to enhance the fireworks experience.

The cost, $64 adults and $49 children under age 15,  includes the cruise, treats and glasses. The cruise leaves at 8 p.m. to tour the lakefront. Fireworks are at 9:30. For tickets and dock location and information visit Mercury Cruises.

Capitol Fourth

Watch the country’s annual Capitol Fourth celebration that is broadcast live from the West Lawn. On PBS from 8 to 9:30 p.m. ET, the celebration  honors the men and women in uniform and their families with a star-studded concert, then presents Washingtin D.C.’s fireworks.

Four-time Grammy Award-winning soprano Renee Fleming will be singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from “Carousel,” John Williams be on video on the 40th anniversary of “Superman” and there will be a tribute to the Beach Boys.

Also featured are music legend Jimmy Buffett with the “Escape to Margaritaville cast, three-time Grammy Award-winning  Pentatonix, pop siner/songwriter Andy Grammer, legendary actress/singer/dancer Chita Rivera, Motown stars The Temptations and multi-platinum country music star Luke Combs.

In addition,  the amazing lineup also includes, Gospel singer CeCe Winans, Grammy-winning violinist Joshua Bell, The Voice season finalist Kyla Jade and the National Symphony Orchestra led by pops conductor Jack Everly.

The celebrations is funded by grants fromn The Boeing Company, the National Park Service, the Department of the army and by the  Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS.

Enjoy, celebrate and be safe.

Jodie Jacobs