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Navy Pier Preps For Thousands Of Fourth Of July Holiday Visitors

CHICAGO (CBS) --  On Wedneday and Thursday, Navy Pier will be packed with people watching fireworks.

Last year, chaos ensued when storms moved in. CBS 2 wanted to know what has changed to keep people safe this year.

CBS 2's Jeremy Ross has the story from Navy Pier.

Those visiting the tourist attraction will notice something that's different from last year - a lot of the construction outside is gone. Barrels and barricades are nowhere to be seen. Workers said that could make a huge difference over the holiday weekend.

People will come to see the fireworks. But last year, a surprisingly different light show was spotted - lightning, the electricity in the sky making its way to the lakeshore injuring two, including one woman hit near Maggie Daley Park.

Videos showed people ducking for cover beneath an overpass as rain poured down after the fireworks, some complained they didn't know where to take shelter.

"We take every opportunity that we have each year to learn and make adjustments accordingly," said Payal Patel, who added that the facility has a plan in place in the event weather again threatens the 150,000 estimated to pack Navy Pier.

"Our garages will serve as the shelter for all folks on the pier," said Patel. "It's concrete. There's no glass and that's what you want."

Another difference will be traffic flow is better this year as construction inside and outside the pier is mostly completed, meaning more space for pedestrians. And if there's a call to evacuate, communictation has improved.

Traditionally the parking garage gets full between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. The gates of the pier will close anywhere around 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. when the space usually reaches capacity.

"We have a Navy Pier alert system that we have in place that's new and we've been implementing and testing internally and it's working well," Patel said. "Our intercom is now working pier-wide and so we can make announcements on that."

"Early notification is something that we're going to try to get ahead and make sure we get the word out, whether it's through the media or social media," said Rich Guidice of Chicago's Office of Emergency Management

The city added it will be working with the National Weather Serivce to monitor the weather conditions going forward.


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