Opinion

July 4th at Joliet airport would really create fireworks today

A few strolls down memory lane at the airport, Boston Store and elsewhere

It seems that as long as anyone could remember, the Joliet Fourth of July fireworks were held at Memorial Stadium.

But not everyone.

Joe Turk, after reading about the city’s search for a new fireworks location for a second straight year, emailed this Fourth of July memory from his Joliet youth.

“The original shows back after the Second World War were held at the airport on Jefferson Street,” Turk wrote. “I can still picture the traffic mess on Jefferson Street, which was one lane in either direction. And it seemed that half the cars were overheated with their hoods open to cool off.”

Turk suggested that the Joliet Regional Airport would be a good place to hold the fireworks again.

But it’s a different era.

“The FAA will not allow us to shoot the fireworks at the airport,” said Brad Staab, executive director of the Joliet Park District, which owns and operates the airport.

Staab was surprised to hear that the fireworks show was ever at the airport.

“I don’t know if they did it before 1950,” he said. “But I know we can’t do it now.”

The fireworks were moved from Memorial Stadium last year because they pose a hazard to the artificial turf at the new softball fields behind the stadium.

Joliet Junior College hosted the fireworks last year but will not in 2022.

The last report from City Manager James Capparelli was that the city was talking with school officials about the possibility of celebrating Fourth of July at Plainfield South High School.

Plainfield South High School, 7800 Caton Farm Road, Joliet, seen on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021.

Plainfield South High School is in the city Joliet.

It is way out west at the corner of Caton Farm and Ridge roads.

But it’s probably easier to get there than it would have been to the airport in the 1940s, judging by Joe Turk’s memories.

Speaking of history

If you’re interested in taking a look back into other aspects of Joliet history, the Joliet Area Historical Museum has a few events this month that may be for you.

On May 11, there will be a presentation on “Historic Buildings and Structures of the St. John’s Neighborhood.” There is no charge for attending the event, which starts at 6:30 p.m. But the museum encourages people to make reservations by email or phone.

On May 13, the Joliet Area Historical Museum restarts walking tours that offer an informative view of the history and architecture of the buildings in downtown Joliet. The 90-minute tour starts at 6 p.m. at Union Station. Tickets are $25 per person.

“I Remember the Boston Store” will be presented May 15 by Mary Beth Gannon in the museum’s auditorium. The presentation about the department store that seems to stir very fond memories among people who experience downtown Joliet shopping in the pre-mall era is 1 to 3 p.m. Admission is free.

Bob Okon

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News