Covid impacts July 4 attendance

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Clark Kolterman, Seward’s Fourth of July Celebration chairman, said the celebration’s attendance took a bit of a hit this year, primarily because of COVID-related issues. Kolterman said July 5 the unofficial attendance was 36,721.

“We didn’t have the airshow this year. We didn’t have the trolleys and that was a convenience issue for people, and we didn’t have a carnival,” he said. “Those were all COVID-related decisions.”

But there were several bright spots, Kolterman said.

“We had a huge crowd for the fireworks at the park in spite of the construction on Waverly Road,” he said. “And participation at the indoor events was over the top.”

Kolterman said he anticipates next year’s celebration will be back to 100%.

Kolterman credited the Fourth of July Committee, which is all volunteers, and the community for coming together to make the celebration happen. 

“We have wonderful volunteers,” he said. “With last-minute changes, people just step up and make it happen.”

A team of about 11 local volunteers organizes and conducts Seward’s firework show each year. Kolterman said they dedicate July 3 and 4 to coordinating the show.

“These guys are a dedicated team. They give up their holiday, that’s time away from their families,” he said.

Kolterman said the committee had to coordinate many of the details within a two-month span because no one knew what the celebration would look like because of COVID. Considerations included social distancing with lines as well as large gatherings such as bands, cloggers, etc.

As part of the Fourth celebration, Nebraska National Guard Historian Jerry Meyer said the museum had a great turnout with 4,160 people in attendance for July 4 and 805 for July 3.

“We were extremely pleased with the turnout considering two months ago there was a possibility of having a limited or virtual July 4 due to the pandemic,” he said. “People were happy to be at the museum checking out the new Women’s Warrior Display and the John and Darlene Wood Weapons Display Room and meeting with General Eisenhower and Gary Anderson.”

Kolterman said he appreciates the collaboration with the volunteers and the city to make the day happen. The committee welcomes new volunteers and will meet at 7 p.m. on July 8 at the Seward Civic Center.

“Thanks to everybody who came together to make the day happen and help us keep our identity as Nebraska’s Fourth of July City,” Kolterman said. “This is all about our morale and identity. We bleed red, white and blue.”

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