What a difference a few months make.
It was a foregone conclusion when spring was starting to end that the city of Clinton wouldn’t have any Fourth of July festivities.
In a town of approximately 25,000 people, it appeared that residents and city officials were OK with not having fireworks, a parade and a gathering for families.
That was until sisters Erin George and Emily Steenhard got involved.
Related: Clinton's parade brings out 1,000
It’s easy for people like me to sit back and talk about the disappointment of not having Riverboat Days and the apparent lack of participation prevalent in Clinton. But George and Steenhard didn’t sit around and lament the fact that their families wouldn’t have a place to go on the Fourth.
They acted on an idea, and it’s just what the city needed.
Nearly 1,000 people attended the Fourth of July celebration that featured a parade along Riverview Drive and a festival in Riverview Park. What’s remarkable about that turnout is that this event wasn’t on anyone’s radar until the end of May.
With the help of countless volunteers, these sisters put together an entire day’s worth of activities in a little more than a month. That’s incredible.
I headed out to enjoy the day, which provided 100-degree heat that felt even hotter (if that’s possible).
Normally I’m not much of a parade person, but Wednesday’s procession provided enough activity that I was engaged for the most part. Even though my daughter hogged all the water, I didn’t feel too uncomfortable even though sweat constantly dripped from my forehead.
View a photo gallery of Clinton's Fourth of July celebration
Parade participants even handed out ice and freezer pops, which at first made my blood pressure rise thinking of the mess that would be created by the 2-year-old sitting next to me. Then I figured she would at least share a bite with me since I was nice enough to give her all the water.
In the end, I didn’t have time to seek a taste, because she gobbled down the frozen treat fast enough that only minor parts of her hands and arms were covered in red juice.
When the parade concluded, we headed down to the park where more attractions awaited attendees. Giant inflatables, a petting zoo, dunk tank and other games created a family atmosphere.
Music was provided at the bandshell, creating a nice break to sit down and relax.
However, the most surprising part of the event was the amount of free food and water provided to everyone in attendance. I knew that food would be available, but I was unaware of the amount.
There was still food ready toward the latter stages of the festival, which kept a good crowd for most of the afternoon, despite the heat.
Even though I’m sure many people would have forked over a dollar for bottled water, the Save the Fourth committee and the people donating the food went out of their way to make this event unique. They didn’t have to give away food. But they did and that’s something I’m sure many people will remember from this Fourth of July.
To top off the day, the Clinton LumberKings hosted Denny McLain, a two-time American League Cy-Young award winner.
Related: McLain returns to Clinton
A big crowd showed up to see him and watch the L-Kings pull out a victory before fireworks lit up the sky to conclude a memorable and successful Fourth of July in Clinton.
The citizens of Clinton needed this. The multitude of residents who banded together to offer help for the Save the Fourth celebration and the officials that backed up the efforts by George and Steenhard to give the city a Fourth of July event should be commended.
But most of all, the city owes a special thanks to George and Steenhard, who didn’t sit around and complain about another negative aspect of the city. They went into action and that made all the difference.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald.
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