East Peoria city leaders encourage families to attend publicly-sanctioned fireworks displays

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EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — East Peoria’s mayor encouraged residents to attend publicly-sanctioned firework displays in Central Illinois to celebrate Independence Day.

Mayor John Kahl said he does not want the city to be responsible for a private firework display Sunday night, led by Kelleher’s owner Pat Sullivan.

“We weren’t part of the approval process, however, we are obligated on this side of the river to close the bridge and ensure safety, knowing that people are going to gather down there to watch that display,” Kahl said.

In April 2021, city leaders decided to postpone the annual UnityPoint Red, White and Boom display. Kahl said this was a hard decision to make. Sullivan then decided to throw a firework display of his own. Kahl said he does not know what to expect and what city resources will be needed.

“It wasn’t planned. And it certainly wasn’t budgeted,” Kahl said. “Now, we’re gonna do our best on this side of the river to do everything we can to make sure everybody’s safe and everyone has a good time and everyone’s respectful. But people need to be considerate of that, realizing that this was not planned.”

Mayor Kahl said city resources like extra public safety officers could become necessary. If that happens, he said both Peoria and East Peoria will send a bill to Sullivan for those services.

He also said there seems to be a lot of misinterpretation of his public statement.

“Area residents wanting to view Independence Day fireworks displays are encouraged by East Peoria city officials to attend publicly-sanctioned displays in neighboring communities rather than gathering on the east riverfront to try watching a Peoria business’ private show,” the statement read.

In the press release, it also stated other firework displays in Central Illinois that are publicly-sanctioned. It read: “Public fireworks displays are occurring July 3 in Spring Bay and July 4 in Chillicothe, Eureka, Morton, and Pekin.”

He said he simply meant for families to know that they cannot expect amenities if they try to watch the fireworks on the East Peoria riverfront. People are still allowed to utilize the riverfront.

“We’re not gonna have restroom facilities. We’re not gonna have vendors. We’re not gonna have music,” Kahl said. “It’s not the typical annual display, and I didn’t want people to expect that.”

The cities of Peoria and East Peoria are required by IDOT to close the Bob Michel Bridge during the display, Sunday, July 4, 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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