CHANNAHON — Even before the "ohhs" and "ahhs," and before the night sky filled with exploding colors, Channahon’s Community Park filled with people who came out to enjoy an afternoon of Fourth of July fun.
The oppressive heat didn’t seem to stop the crowds from coming. An easy 1,000 people filled the park by late afternoon, said Tammy Kjellesvik, supervisor of recreation for the Channahon Park District.
“It’s going great,” Kjellesvik said. “I think people came out later because it’s so hot. But people are pouring in everywhere.”
Children climbed on the park equipment and slid down giant inflatable slides. They got temporary tattoos and had their faces painted.
For those who had a hard time with the heat, there was the splash pad and Sno-Cones.
Sisters Ella, Keira and Cali Rucka took time out from the playground to enjoy their icy treats. They came with their parents Bob and Kristen Rucka a few hours before the fireworks were under way.
They played in the “jumpy” and loved the spin art, Cali said.
But the fireworks were going to be the best part, Ella said.
Adults and children danced to favorites, like the Black Eyed Peas and Jimmy Buffet, sung by the DuPage Band. A hula-hoop contest drew even more kids to the stage. Those who lasted the longest, about seven kids, were awarded with DuPage Band tee-shirts.
While some towns chose to cancel their fireworks displays because of fire concerns, Channahon’s was a go, said Channahon Park District Executive Director Chuck Szoke earlier in the day.
They met with police department and fire protection district officials, and the consensus was to go ahead as planned. The fallout area was watered down well beforehand, Szoke said.
“With 1 8/10 inches of rain, everyone felt pretty confident,” Szoke said.
Rich Krohn won the “Right to Light” drawing, giving him the opportunity to light the Independence Day fireworks. Proceeds from ticket sales went to benefit the George A. McCoy Financial Assistance Program.
Krohn came dressed as Uncle Sam — in a white beard and patriotic top hat. He was thrilled to have won.
“I am a very patriotic person,” he said.
When the fireworks finally began, they were everything the crowd expected. This was the third year the park district hired a pyrotechnics company to put on the show. Each year they work to make the show better and better, Kjellesvik said.
“I think we always have a great show,” she said.