Thousands gather at Navy Pier as Chicago celebrates the Fourth of July

A huge crowd gathered along the lakefront for fireworks Wednesday night.

For about 15 minutes, crowds were treated to a show of music and lights that took weeks of planning to put together.

Nearing time for the big fireworks show, the excitement for the Sullivan family was palpable. Watching with his family, Phillip Sullivan has returned to watch each year since he was 10.

"We're here on vacation to see the fireworks tonight,” Victoria Sullivan said.

"The colors and the music, all tied together. It's a must see experience,” Phillip said.

Under the eye of a visibly increased police presence, crowds were funneled through a secure entrance.

"Unfortunately it's kind of necessary in the state we are in,” said Danielle Bishop.

But the experience started outside. Kids were given a break from today's heat with a dip in the fountain. Others enjoyed a breeze on the water and a day off from work.

"We came to go on a cruise ship - the Odyssey. Come to see Chicago,” said Yemi Akindele.

It was a day that included a musical perforce for the people in attendance, many who draped themselves in the red, white and blue colors of the nation's flag.

"I’m in the Army, so why not enjoy my country,” said Antonio Sanchez.