As the sun went down in south Naperville, lawn chairs settled at Good Shepard Church where people gathered not only to see fireworks, but to enjoy one another’s company.
“This parking lot is a great place to see them and we host it and have music and food so people can have fun together,” said Good Shepard Pastor, P.J. Malin.
In 1987, long-time Naperville resident, Sylvia Bauler, first brought her family to watch the fireworks at Casey’s Foods. Now, 25 years later, her family is grown and she watches as new families carry on the tradition.
“I asked my daughter yesterday if she remembered coming here 25 years ago. She goes, oh yeah, I remember and we’d pack everything in the car everybody had a chair and they’d play with the football. They had good memories,” said Bauler.
The tradition started by word of mouth, and now more and more people show up each year.
Naperville Resident, Kathy Cormack is surprised at the turn out. “You can get here early, it’s not too crowded. You meet fun people and you spread the word. Last year we had two families, this year we had fifteen.”
At Good Shepard, parishioners run a concession stand where all proceeds go to scholarships and mission trips. This year, the funds from the tip jar will help build a home for a little boy named Byron and his family in Guatemala.
“Their goal was to raise $2,000 by the fourth of July so that Byron has a home,” said Janice Rubin, Director of Family Life for Student Ministry at Good Shepard Church.
At Casey’s, the neighborhood kids know it’s all about the fireworks.
Mia Gordon of Naperville said, “They’re awesome!”
“I’ve never been here before and they go high in the sky and then you can see them,” said Naperville’s Ethan Czyzewitz.
For Joe Rocco, fireworks high in the sky are America’s birthday candles. “The Fourth of July is a birthday celebration and we should celebrate everyone’s life.”
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