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Tips for taking in city of DeKalb's fireworks show

Prepare to battle traffic, roadblocks and crowds in order to find a good seat for the show

DeKALB – It's taken Jackie Suwanski years to perfect the art of finding a spot to watch the fireworks show in DeKalb.

"It was trial and error the first couple of years to find a spot," said Suwanski, of Sycamore. "But we go every single year."

Suwanski and her family are just one of thousands who gather in and around Hopkins Park to watch the July 4 fireworks show every year. They battle traffic, roadblocks and crowds in order to find a good seat for the show. Suwanski, who has gone to watch the show for the past 10 years with her husband and four children, said her top tip for beating the crowds is to show up as early as possible.

Some local businesses, such as China House at 1900 Sycamore Road are accommodating of onlookers.

"We are a community business, so we serve the community," said China House manager Justin Chen.

Chen regularly watches the fireworks from the windows of China House while he's working. He said most people clean up after themselves before they leave the restaurant's parking lot.

Those who want access to parking lots along Sycamore Road should be warned, though: The DeKalb Police Department will begin blocking off parts of the road at 7 p.m.

DeKalb police Lt. James McDougall said the easiest way to access Hopkins Park will be from the north, not the south. He said it's sometimes difficult to turn left into the park with the added traffic and roadblocks. Additional help will be provided by the Northern Illinois University police department.

"We suggest if you don't need to be on Sycamore Road, don't be on Sycamore Road," McDougall said.

The fireworks show is co-sponsored by the City of DeKalb and the DeKalb Park District. Food vendors will be available at the park throughout the day, and the DeKalb Municipal Band will perform at the park band shell during the fireworks show. Suwanski said families with young children will be glad to have a spot for children to play.

Program supervisor Colleen Belmont said people arrive at various times throughout the day, to spend time with family or hold picnics.

"Some people start setting up as early as 8 in the morning to hold a spot," Belmont said. "Sometimes, just blankets and chairs show up."

However, Belmont said they expect the biggest rush of visitors after 5 p.m., when Hopkins Park pool closes.

"I think I see more and more people out every year," Suwanski said. "Get there well ahead of time."

If you go

• DeKalb: Vendors open at 2 p.m. at Hopkins Park, 1403 Sycamore Road. Fireworks start and the DeKalb Municipal Band will play at dusk.

• Kirkland: Fourth of July celebration Thursday through Saturday at Franklin Township Park, 290 South St.

• Sandwich: Fourth of July celebration runs Saturday and Sunday, including Saturday parade and Sunday 5K Race

• Shabbona: Barbecue and fireworks Friday at the Train Depot located at the base of the Water Tower in Shabbona

Voice your opinion

Where do plan to watch fireworks this weekend? Vote online at

More inside

• DeKalb County communities mark the Fourth of July. Page A5

• Kirkland kicks off three-day holiday celebration. Page A3

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