The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

June 1, 2012

LEVINE: Community support vital in Fourth of July festivities

CLINTON — The official end of Riverboat Days is bittersweet.

It’s unfortunate that a long-standing tradition will disappear this year.

Organizers with the Riverboat Days Board tried to keep some of the entertainment alive last summer by providing a parade and fireworks, while the Clinton Jaycees took over the festival. Things didn’t turn out well, and the writing was on the wall for this year’s event.

Despite those entities backing out, some residents in Clinton weren’t ready for the activities to stop.

Sisters Erin George and Emily Steenhard didn’t want the city’s youth to miss out on Fourth of July festivities that they were accustomed to when growing up.

So they decided to start a fundraising campaign that has already netted $3,000 for a celebration in Clinton on the Fourth.

Thanks to these two women and the Clinton LumberKings, which are planning to host a car show, concert and fireworks, residents likely won’t miss out on time-honored Independence Day traditions like a parade and fireworks.

This support, which has been lacking in recent years for Riverboat Days, is nice to see, especially when so many negative headlines splash across the newspaper about city business.

People don’t always have to agree on issues. But citizens should come together and try to make Clinton a better place, and in no way is the city better without Fourth of July events.

Becoming more involved in the community is something I’ve stressed in this column since I started writing in this spot almost three years ago. One of my first columns dealt with Riverboat Days.

I was amazed at some of the pessimistic perceptions regarding Clinton’s main attraction. Coming from a small town in Iowa, we didn’t have a festival with multiple concerts, vendors, activities and more. My wife and I enjoyed the first Riverboat Days that we attended in 2008, but in the years since, support has noticeably dwindled and the festival didn’t measure up to its past precedence.

Now that there’s a new direction and likely increased support, I hope organizers don’t go overboard with festivities.

This doesn’t have to be exactly like Riverboat Days. Making sure the parade runs smoothly will create a much better perception from the community than a large festival with major mistakes.

If this year’s event takes off and goes better than expected, then an entire year lies ahead for a bigger and better event.

Organizers don’t have much time to plan since a little more than month remains before the event kicks off, but with the help of citizens and local businesses, the tradition of a festival in Clinton can remain alive.

But regardless of the event’s success this year, it’s nice to see the community rally together to keep the Riverboat Days memory from dying.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at scottlevine@clintonherald.com.

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