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Grandwood Park District’s fireworks greet the new year

Watching Grandwood Park District's New Year's Eve Fireworks Hutchins Athletic Field Grandwood Park are Kaleb Lind 9 Lindenhurst (center) his

Watching Grandwood Park District's New Year's Eve Fireworks at Hutchins Athletic Field in Grandwood Park are Kaleb Lind, 9, of Lindenhurst (center) and his friends Becca Runyan, 7, (left) and her sister Lydia, 9, of Lindenhurst. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 2, 2013 6:10AM

GRANDWOOD PARK — Mike and Cathy Babicz had a surprise on Monday for their granddaughters, Kaley and Kendra Burns: fireworks in December.

“They didn’t know until this afternoon. We’re babysitting so mom and dad could go out for New Year’s Eve. We grabbed some supper at Wendy’s and came on over,” Mike Babicz said as everyone gathered around a bonfire to await the Grandwood Park District’s belated Independence Day display at the Hutchins Atheletic Fields.

Postponed due to last summer’s drought, the $4,200 display, co-sponsored by the park district and the Grandwood Park Civic Association (GPCA), was re-scheduled for New Year’s Eve within two weeks of July 4. GPCA board president Bill Reil and Nancy Carlson, feeding the bonfire around 5:30 p.m., said the general consensus was to revive the tradition on a significant date.

“We kind of threw around a couple of dates and somebody threw out New Year’s Eve,” Reil said. “At first, everybody said it was stupid. The more we thought about it, it seemed better and better, and it just took off.”

“It’s not a random date, you know?” Carlson said. “Antioch did (their postponed fireworks) in September, and we decided that to do it on a day that was meaningful would be more fun And we wanted to do it early enough so that people could come out and still make it back in time to watch the ball drop, go out to dinner, whatever.”

“It’s the conclusion to Summerfest — I’ve so-named it tonight,” Reil added.

Lake County Board member Steve Carlson, sipping a warm beverage, said “this is the way it should be — people coming out, gathering around a fire. It’s a throwback.”

The event’s fireworks vendor, Mad Bombers Fireworks Productions, had provided a contract that was good through the beginning of 2013. Reil noted that as long as the site stayed the same, the display’s permit with the Gurnee Fire Department didn’t need to be renewed.

About a half-hour before showtime, as more than two dozen visitors braved the 20-degree temperatures and a stiff breeze out of the north, 9-year-old Kaley Burns was asked for her review of the revised festivities: ”Freezing.”

“It’ll be worth it once the fireworks go off,” her grandfather said with a laugh.

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