Originally the brainchild of Dick Dooley, then Superintendent of Recreation for the Lisle Park District, the event was initiated to mark Lisle’s Sesqui-Centennial in 1982. After a decade of continued growth, the event almost died when the Lisle Park District decided it no longer could assume the financial risk of running the event. The Lisle Kiwanis Club stepped in to save the event but after two years, they too decided the financial risk was more than they could handle.
In keeping with Lisle’s historic volunteer spirit, a group of citizens formed the Lisle Fourth of July Committee in 1992 and have been managing what has become one of the Chicago area’s largest summer festivals ever since. Hank Van Kampen, long-time President of the Lisle Park District, headed the original committee. Other original members included Bill Kubes, Treasurer, and Wayne Dunham, Secretary. Representing the area civic groups were Larry Smith and Dale Rammien from the Kiwanis, Dick Gaddini from the Lions and Tom Althoff from Rotary. Hazel Van Kampen and Joe Maas represented the Lisle community at large.
The event and the committee have grown dramatically since then. More than 500 Lisle and other area residents now volunteer to help the event, which attracts an attendance each year approaching 90,000. Highlights include performances by nationally known musical groups, the best in local band performances, a large carnival, a 50-booth craft fair, a special children’s area with many entertainment options, two food courts with diverse offerings and of course, daily launches of hot air balloons and a balloon glow. Fireworks are also provided each night of the festival.