Clear Lake is known to have the biggest July 4th celebration in north Iowa, and this year was no different. The big parade kicked off at 10am and went down Main Ave. all the way to the lakefront. As usual, the police were in the lead blaring their sirens to signify the parade was underway. They were followed by the Clear Lake VFW honor guard carrying the flags, and then the Boy Scouts carrying many more flags. After the scouts went thru, we had a nice LONGGGGGGGGGGG wait for the next entry-- Bill and Hill! Yep, the Clintons were going so slow (visiting and campaigning) that the parade was held up for at least 15 minutes so they could catch up. After their entourage passed, we were finally able to enjoy the parade. Also walking in this year's parade was Mitt Romney, and volunteers from most of the other presidential candidates. I personally would rather see a parade with floats, bands and fire trucks, and leave all the politics out of it. The best parade "entry" was the Iowa Air National Guard, which did a fly-over with 3 F-16's. I was a little slow with the camera, but I did catch a blurry shot of them in the distance after they passed us.
It was interesting to note that one of the early entries, the Mason City VFW, was NOT in attendance this year. Their tradition is to march in uniform carrying their "blank shooting" rifles, which they will fire off periodically during the parade. This year, they were told by the Secret Service that firearms would not be allowed, so the group elected to back out of the parade. One of their officers was quoted in the local paper as saying: “There’s too much political stuff. They’re making us change 50 years of tradition because of two people, and one of them is a draft dodger who turned the White House into a whorehouse.” Needless to say, there are MANY in North Iowa fired up about this quote.
I would be remiss in not mentioning our parade hosts. Again this year we watched from the front yard of Ivan and Brenda Good, who own a home right on Main Ave. Many from our church family gathered on their lawn and enjoyed the good food and fellowship before the parade.
After the parade, we went back home and got ready to host a picnic. The Cox's and Nichols' along with Nick Oliver came over and we grilled up some yummy grub. The backyard was full of kids on the swings and playing volleyball.
The weather was perfect, sunny and about 90 degrees. Doreen Nichols fried up a batch of her onion rings, which are about the best I've ever tasted. We enjoyed a great time of fellowship and then at about 7:30, we headed to the church. We parked in the church's lot and walked about 4 blocks south to the lakefront where we spread our chairs and blankets out right on Lakefront Ave, which was closed. We then walked the kids down to the carnival to occupy some time before the 10pm fireworks. Everyone had a great time.
When the fireworks finally began, we were amazed. The city, with the help of corporate and individual donations, put on a $50,000 fireworks display out over the lake. The launchers were set up on 4 barges in the lake, and once they started shooting, they didn't stop for 30 minutes. It was non-stop, 3 or 4 starbursts at a time for the whole 30 min. Without a doubt, the best fireworks show I've ever seen.