With so much talk this weekend over whether or not area communities and organizations will get to shoot off their fireworks on Sunday, I wanted to take a moment to talk about why that possibility is especially heartbreaking here in Cedar Rapids.
I was born here but grew up in Strawberry Point, IA. I moved to Cedar Rapids after high school and have been here ever since. I’ve had opportunities to leave but it never felt right. This was my home and nothing reinforced that more than the terrible flood of 2 years ago. I literally watched the town I love drown underneath a flood no one ever expected.
Watching it from my job in downtown Cedar Rapids was one of the toughest things I ever did. And as anyone in this community would tell you, the days, weeks, months and years after have been no picnic either. It’s a slow, tedious process to recover from a disaster of this magnitude and something that will affect this city for years to come.
The first thing I thought about after the flood was that we would lose our beloved Freedom Festival. The 2 week celebration features a number of events, culminating in a grand finale downtown with a spectacular fireworks show over the Cedar River. For the past 2 years that fireworks celebration hasn’t happened.
But this year is supposed to be different. After some wrangling between city and Freedom Festival leaders, the fireworks show will return downtown. Sure there will be some changes to the event, but the idea of everyone gathering in the heart of our city, along the shores of the Cedar River is what I’ve been waiting for since the flood.
Now, 3 years since the last downtown fireworks event, the show may be on hold for yet another year, again, because of the impact the weather has. It would be a terrible way to lose the fireworks for another year downtown and one I’m hoping against all odds won’t happen. Tomorrow tens of thousands will return downtown, many for the first time since the flood to enjoy a little bit of a return to normal living in Cedar Rapids. Hopefully a lot of good wishes are enough to keep the raindrops away on the 4th of July.