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Members of fireworks committee discuss revamped two-day celebration

A provided graphic shows a map of events scheduled for July 3 and 4 along with their locations. The fun will start in the 13th Street District on Wednesday, July 3 and shift to the 6th Street softball complex at 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 4, concluding with the fireworks at 9:30 p.m.

Major changes are in store for this year’s Fourth of July festivities in Marshalltown, with events moving from the Central Iowa Fairgrounds to the 13th Street District and the 6th Street softball complex. On Thursday evening, three members of the fireworks committee — Luisa Ortega, Michelle Roseburrough Halverson and Andy Schwandt — sat down with the T-R and discussed what to expect during the two-day celebration in the newly declared “Red, White and Blue Capital of Iowa” in 2024.

“I’m very excited, and I think that after people attend, even the skeptical ones, that they will see how great this opportunity is for this change,” Halverson said.

Ortega, who has been involved with the fireworks for over a decade now, feels that the expanded slate of events will show off more of the community. The fun will start with a car cruise at 5 p.m. and a live performance from Damon Dotson in the 13th Street District at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 3. On Thursday, July 4, the first ever Independence Day parade, which will run through the 13th Street District and the Iowa Veterans Home campus, will begin at 10 a.m. followed by the largest community picnic on the IVH lawn at 11:30 a.m. — the first 100 people to arrive will receive a free blanket from Zamora’s Fresh Market — and little league baseball and softball games at the IVH field beginning at 1:30 p.m. with a veteran throwing out the first pitch at each.

At 4 p.m., activities will shift to the softball complex with food trucks and vendors, kids’ games and Yessy’s characters with several musical acts on tap — the Sears Band from 4 to 6 p.m., the Marshalltown Community Band from 6 to 6:30 p.m., Driving Blind from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and Elvis impersonator Joseph Hall from 8:30 to 9:30, when the fireworks are set to begin. The musical acts will play under the mobile bandshell, which is set to be moved to the softball complex for the day.

Since Ortega came onboard, the budget for the fireworks alone has grown from $8,000 in her first year to $20,000 today, which fits with her ongoing objective of continuing to grow the events year after year. Another dream she still has is bringing in a carnival, but with the change in location and everything that came with it, she decided it could wait for now.

“I think, honestly, the main reason (for the move) was to be more inclusive and to showcase all the amenities that Marshalltown has to offer and be able to collaborate with the Vets Home and have them feel more included too,” Ortega said.

Halverson added that the new location will also help to shine a light on the reimagining of the Linn Creek District, where a total of $2 million in Destination Iowa grants have been awarded for four major projects, and businesses in that area like the American Legion and Wayward Social plan to have their bars open because of their proximity, which both Halverson and Schwandt saw as a positive development.

“Several businesses around the area are gonna take advantage of it too. Some that were originally going to be closed for the day (on July 4) are now going to be open and have specials,” Schwandt said.

In response to the initial announcement of the changes, concerns about the availability of parking in the 6th Street area were raised frequently, but the city council has since made arrangements to offer a free shuttle bus with several pickup locations, and with the trails running through, there will also be ample opportunities to bike to and from the events.

“Everybody always has a question about parking. Even when you take a look at where the old location was, you’d think there was plenty of parking, but people parked all over,” Schwandt said. “People will find parking all the way around the area. We’ve got the Y (that) has said they’re OK with us having people park there, and even Wayward Social said ‘You know, if people park up in that area,’ (that’s fine)… A lot of people I’ve talked to say ‘Well, heck, I can just watch it right outside of my backdoor.'”

Registration for the parade will run until June 28, and the entry cost is $25. To learn more about the events, visit the Meet in Marshalltown Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=61552007161079) or the event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/384507177922684.

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Contact Robert Maharry

at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or

rmaharry@timesrepublican.com.

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