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On July 4th, Parades, Picnics, And Fireworks Celebrate Independence Day, But Storms Could Dampen Festivities

CHICAGO (CBS) -- From parades to picnics to fireworks displays, lots of Chicago neighborhoods and suburbs are celebrating the 4th of July. With the threat of some decidedly un-holiday-like weather this evening, everyone is fitting in the fun while they still have the chance.

In Hyde Park, the annual Independence Day parade kicks off at 11 a.m. along Lake Park Avenue, 55th Street, Hyde Park Boulevard, and 53rd Street; followed by a picnic in Nichols Park.

In west suburban Oak Park, the annual July 4th parade kicked off at 10 a.m., featuring fire trucks, marching bands, athletic teams, children's groups, and lots of pets.

If the weather holds up, Oak Park also will host a fireworks show at dusk at the football stadium at Oak Park and River Forest High School.

"It's the beginning of our independence, and it's really important and symbolic that we come out and celebrate it," Dave Taub said. "I think about all of my relatives and ancestors, and I've got cousins overseas who are officers in the Army in Korea. I think of those guys, and hopefully they'll be safe today."

In the Sauganash neighborhood on the North Side, Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined in on the 4th of July festivities, marching in the Independence Day parade.

"This is exactly what 4th of July should be like. Families coming together, friends and neighbors celebrating. We have so much to be grateful for in this country and in our city," Lightfoot said.

The city's official fireworks show will be at Navy Pier, starting at about 9:30 p.m.

The weather could put a damper on the July 4th fireworks at Navy Pier, and city officials aren't taking any chances with possible storms in the forecast.

Last year, there was chaos along the lakefront when storms moved in after the fireworks, and people who didn't know where to take cover scrambled to find shelter.

Navy Pier and city officials said they are working with the National Weather Service to monitor Thursday's conditions, with chances of scattered showers and storms Thursday night.

"Navy Pier can hold about 60,000 people, and they can all shelter in place at Navy Pier, within the confines of the pier itself. Early notification is something that we're going to try to get ahead of, and make sure we get the word out," Office of Emergency Management and Communication executive director Rich Guidice said.

Authorities also have designated the Navy Pier parking garage as a shelter in case of severe weather. With concrete walls and no windows, it's a prime spot for taking cover if powerful storms move in.

Also a concern are potential burns, injuries, and fires from people shooting off their own fireworks. City officials reminded everyone fireworks are illegal in Illinois.

"Please take the time to go to not only Navy Pier for our beautiful fireworks presentation, but also the surrounding communities that have presentations of fireworks available," Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Richard Ford III said.

Another safety concern is possible violent crime. To guard against that, police are deploying 1,500 additional officers over the holiday weekend.

"Our deployments will target areas where we expect the most people to be gathering; such as the beaches, lakefronts, and parks. Officers will also increase patrols in the city's many vibrant neighborhoods. These officers will be out on foot patrol, as well on bikes and in their police vehicles," Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot urged people to take public transportation to get around on Thursday. She said CTA cameras will be monitored live by police throughout the holiday weekend.

For a complete list of all the July 4th festivities in the Chicago area this year, click here.

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