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Whether you call them fireworks, sky candy, rocket dust, rainbow suspenders, dragon ball-see, or BOOM, you'll get a great view (and ribs) at these all-American Fourth of July parties.
Community Picnic & Fourth of July Fireworks Watch The Iraqi Mutual Aid Society, raising awareness of Iraq's refugees and how we can help transition them into our country, shoots fireworks at dusk and offers the opportunity to chat with society members. Tue 7/4, 4-9 PM, Northwestern University, Norris University Center East Lawn, Northwestern University, Norris University Center, 1999 Campus, Evanston, free.
The Fourth of July 3-D Fireworks Extravaganza Sure, we've all seen fireworks before—on Independence Day, in an alley lit up by "kids these days"—but have you ever seen them in . . . 3-D?! If you answered "yes," you are correct. But board this vessel, don 3-D glasses, and experience explosions closer to your face. Freedom right before your eyes. Tue 7/4, 8-10:30 PM, Mercury Skyline Cruiseline, 112 E. Upper Wacker, mercurycruises.com, $59 adults, $49 kids under 15, free for kids under five.
Fourth of July Afternoon Booze Cruise The name says it all. Get a head start on the festivities with a toilet-side view of the technicolor heave. Tue 7/4, noon-2:30 PM, DuSable Harbor, 111 N. Lake Shore, $20-$30.
Evanston Fourth of July Twilight Concert and Fireworks The Palatine Concert Band plays from 7:30 to 9 PM before accompanying an impressive fireworks display, launched from Clark Street Beach, that should be viewable from east of downtown Evanston. Tue 7/4, 7:30 PM; fireworks start at 9:30 PM, Centennial Park, Sheridan and Church, Evanston, free.
Freedom Fest Navy Pier goes out with the navy, in with the red, white, and blue for this annual rooftopalooza. The tradition, of course, includes the beer, brats, and best view of the fireworks the pier is known for. Bring the whole family to join the chant: "USA! USA! USA!" Tue 7/4, 6:30-11 PM, Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand, 312-595-7437, navypier.com, $39.
Frontier Days Festival at Arlington Park For five glorious days, the city of Arlington Heights transforms itself into a festival of soap-bubble sculptures, reptile meet-and-greets, aquatic obstacle courses, and the multidimensional musical stylings of Hoobastank. Close out with a rib-eating contest and, of course, explosions in the sky. 6/29-7/4: Thu 5-11 PM, Fri 4 PM-midnight, Sat 8:30 AM-midnight, Sun 7:30 AM-11 PM, Mon 5-11 PM, Tue 10 AM-10 PM, Recreation Park, 500 E. Miner St., Arlington Heights, $20-$25.
Northwest Fourth Fest Computers have put jobs in jeopardy, and this weekend-long event in Hoffman Estates, billed as "The Burbs' Biggest Fourth of July Celebration," has outsourced its July 7/2 fireworks to a mighty digital display. Come to think of it, there's nothing more American than letting someone—or something—do the heavy lifting. The festival also includes catering from local restaurants and a plethora of carnival rides for wee 'uns and bigger 'uns. 6/30-7/4: Fri 6-11 PM; Sat 11 AM-11 PM (craft fair from 9 AM-4 PM); Sun 10 AM-11 PM (craft fair from 10 AM-4 PM); Mon-Tue 11 AM-11 PM, Sears Centre, 5333 Prairie Stone Pkwy., Hoffman Estates, 847-649-2270, searscentre.com, $50 for entire festival.
Oak Fest In honor of the 30th year of the festival, Oak Forest features two fireworks displays: day one, on Thu 6/29 from 9 to 10 PM, in honor of fallen heroes, and again on Tue 7/4 at dusk. There will also be craft beers and ample opportunities to adopt sheltered pets. Thu 6/29, 6-10 PM; Fri 6/30, 6 PM-midnight; Sat 7/1, 3 PM-midnight; Sun 7/2, 11 AM-midnight; Mon 7/3, 6 PM-midnight; Tue 7/4, 3-10 PM, 159th and Central Ave., Oak Forest, $60 for all-festival pass.
Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture July Fourth Fireworks Cruise Put the "Chicago" back in "Watching the fireworks in Chicago." This "freedom edition" of the popular architecture cruise lazily floats down the Chicago River, allowing us to marvel at our iconic buildings and landscapes before docking just in time for a special addition: some temporary architecture in the sky. Tue 7/4, 8:15-9:45 PM, Shoreline's Navy Pier, 474 N. Lake Shore, 312-222-9328, shorelinesightseeing.com, $69.
Spirit Fourth of July Fireworks Dinner Cruise For three hours and three courses over a bulging buffet, guests can gorge themselves silly at an open bar and test their drunken skills at giant Jenga. And of course the evening will be capped by an extraordinary view of the fireworks from Lake Michigan's finest vantage point: anywhere on the lake. Tue 7/4, 7 PM, the Spirit of Chicago, Navy Pier, $149.90.
Taste of Oak Brook Fireworks will light up the sky as specialty local food lights up your stomach. Ironically, brought to you by McDonalds. Mon 7/3, 9:15 PM (closing time not available at press time), Oak Brook Polo Grounds, 700 Oak Brook, Oak Brook, 630-368-6428, chicagopolo.com, free.For more ways to celebrate, visit our Agenda page.