It was a situation that seemed utterly improbable while at the same time chillingly real — emergency personnel closing off portions of Clinton’s Riverview Drive to investigate the possibility of an explosive device found on the banks of the Mississippi River.

One a sunny summer Monday, it was only natural that the riverfront would be bustling. Kids were fishing off a pier, the newly expanded Riverview Swimming Pool was in full operation and the Mississippi Belle II was taking its daily cruise. A family visiting from out of town was doing the same thing so many other visitors do, taking a simple stroll on our city’s beautiful recreational trail.

It was that family — specifically 6-year-old Allen Wilcox and his 11-year-old sister Theresa — who were walking along the shore just behind the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre on June 19 when Theresa picked up something that looked like a rock and handed it to her brother. Allen showed his dad, Steve Wilcox, who said his stint in the Army led him to believe the item was a grenade.

After that, well-organized chaos ensued. Riverview Drive was blocked off to vehicular traffic from Fifth Avenue South to Sixth Avenue North. All pedestrians within close proximity of the showboat were evacuated from the area, as well as many people at the pool. Local police called in the Quad-City Bomb Squad of the Davenport Police Department as well as the State Fire Marshal Bomb Squad. The situation caused delay of the Belle’s scheduled 3 p.m. return to shore and the entire spectacle drew the attention of spectators and the news media.

In the end, the grenade found was revealed to be an inert souvenir. While it looked every bit the part of a real grenade — and may have been live at one time — it had no detonation device and was unable to explode.

This is the ultimate case of being better safe than sorry. Everyone acted as best as possible given the circumstances, from the children who went straight to their father, to their aunt, who went straight to the police, to the actual emergency responders themselves who took logical measures to protect public safety.

In the end it may have been much ado about nothing, but it is far better to be overly concerned about a dud and throw a wrench in a few schedules than to be cavalier with a live explosive and have to answer questions during a death investigation.

We’re proud of the way the situation was handled by everyone involved and relieved there was no real danger. There have been a lot of safety drills taking place recently, but this was the real deal and all parties handled it with the professionalism we expect and deserve.

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