Fireworks return to Belleville on Saturday

News-DemocratJuly 2, 2014 

Fourth of July fireworks will explode over Belleville for the first time in 14 years.

A fireworks show and other activities Saturday night at Southwestern Illinois College are part of the city's year-long bicentennial celebration.

"It's going to be a big bang," said Cathleen Lindauer, Belleville tourism director. "I think it's going to be one of the biggest fireworks shows in Southern Illinois."

Fireworks will begin around dusk Saturday. Organizers hope families will come early and make an evening of it.

Gates at SWIC will open at 5:30 p.m. with music by the U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

"After the music and before the fireworks, there's going to be a laser show on a huge screen," Lindauer said.

Belleville's 9-11 artifact (a beam from the World Trade Center) will be displayed on campus all evening. Civic groups will sell food and soft drinks.

Belleville 200, the organization in charge of the bicentennial celebration, is hosting the event.

"(They're) putting on the show, but the city is helping to set it up," said Debbie Belleville, director of Belleville Parks and Recreation. "We're working on security, parking, the whole ball of wax."

The city stopped hosting Fourth of July fireworks in 2001 due to the opening of the new MetroLink station at SWIC. Officials also had been dealing with cost and safety issues.

Belleville remembers former Mayor Mark Kern paying for the show himself to keep it going.

"(This year) the City of Belleville is not spending any money for it," Lindauer said. "It's being sponsored by SWIC, Walmart and the Illinois Lottery."

Admission to the event is free. People can bring blankets and lawn chairs, but no alcohol or pets.

Parking at SWIC is limited, so people are encouraged to ride MetroLink if possible.

"I listened to the soundtrack (that will be played during fireworks) this morning," Belleville said. "It's all patriotic music."

At a glance

What: Belleville 200 fireworks show

Where: Southwestern Illinois College, 2500 Carlyle Ave. in Belleville

When: Gates open at 5:30 p.m.; U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America performs at 7:30 p.m.; laser show at 9 p.m.; and fireworks at dusk

Admission: Free; food and soft drinks available for purchase

Bring: Lawn chairs and blankets

Don't bring: Alcohol or pets

Parking: Limited; ride MetroLink if possible

Information: Visit belleville200.org

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