Fourth of July festival planning underway

CLINTON — Though the frigid winter may not have Gateway-area residents in a "summer" frame of mind, local organizers already are focused on the Fourth of July.

The annual Independence Day festivities along the Clinton riverfront take lots of time and people to organize, and Tuesday the Clinton City Council heard an update regarding the celebration for 2019. Fourth of July Festival board chairman Dave Helscher said crowd numbers for the event were down in 2018, likely due to extreme heat and humidity. That hasn't dampened the spirits of organizers, however, as the festival nears once again.

"We're just trying to make it smooth, and safe, and a fun day for everybody," Helscher said Tuesday night. "We're going to control the things we can, but we can't control the weather... it is the Fourth of July. It's going to be warm, possibly sunny, it could possibly rain. But if it does, it does."

According to Helscher, the day will begin around 9 a.m., kicked off by various athletic tournaments that will conclude "mid-afternoon." The traditional parade is slated for 1 p.m. Familiar Independence Day games and events will dot the afternoon. Food and beverage vendors will begin operations at their discretion, with no official beginning time for them. The celebration will close with a home LumberKings baseball game and fireworks.

Like last year, $4,500 in city funds have been budgeted to aid in paying for the festival, officials confirmed Tuesday.

"That amount, or anything greater, is greatly appreciated," Helscher told the council.

The volunteers who donate their time and efforts to making the festival happen are the event's lifeblood, Helscher said. Unfortunately, many involved with ensuring the day's success are aging, and the capacity in which they are able to serve is dwindling.

Tuesday night before the council, Helscher urged locals to reach out if they are interested in helping out and continuing the success of the city's Independence Day festivities.

"Anybody that is interested in the community in stepping forward and helping organize, by all means do it," Helscher said. "None of us on the committee are getting any younger after eight or nine years of this... we're always looking for organizers."