“It absolutely breaks our hearts”: Rockford 4th of July fireworks show off after city’s decision to cancel


ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The 4th of July Committee made a disappointing announcement on Saturday morning.

Co-chairs Ted O’Donnell and Tom Luepkes announced the city has denied the committee a permit to launch the fireworks. O’Donnell tells Eyewitness News the city is concerned about public safety.

“With police, with fire, barricade, and Public Works, if they felt that was going to be an issue and that is their hang up for the 4th of July, then that’s their hang up,” said O’Donnell. “I can’t speak for them, but that’s what we were told.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, crowds would not be allowed downtown to watch the fireworks.

“We felt the community would need a sense of normality in extremely abnormal times and we could offer that in a fireworks show that not only celebrated our country, but held the tradition this community has come to know and love over the last 57 years,” said Luepkes. “Unfortunately, through city hall, we are not being given the opportunity to do so this year. Although, we’ve made adaptations and exceptions with what we want to do this year, we are being denied the opportunity to do so.”

The 4th of July Committee is an independent entity and is not affiliated with the city of Rockford.

Eyewitness News reached out to Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara. He shared a statement on the decision.

My family and I love all the activities on the Fourth of July and it’s one of the best days for our community to come together. We worked closely with our police, fire, and Public Works to evaluate the best options for this event. With the health and safety of our community at the top of our minds, it’s not the right time to have this type of large-scale event. I made the difficult decision to cancel it. I’m grateful for the hard work and commitment of the Fourth of July Committee and its sponsors and all the volunteers that make this day so special. I’m confident that 2021 will be the best Fourth of July celebration yet.”

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara

The 4th of July Committee thanks everyone for participating in the Save Our Fireworks telethon and sharing their personal stories. All donors will receive an email with an option to receive a refund or transfer the donations for 2021.


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