Cedar Boat Club Fireworks Postponed, Other Events Impacted

By Alison Gowans, The Gazette

UPDATE, JULY 2:

Riverside Theatre and the Iowa City Jazz Festival have adjusted their weekend plans to due flood projections.

The final performance of “Othello” will now by July 2 at 8 p.m. at the Riverside Festival Stage in Lower City Park in Iowa City.

Starting July 4 through July 13, “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised]” will move from City Park to Riverside Theatre, 213 N. Gilbert Street, Iowa City.

Three “Othello” shows have been canceled. Patrons who have tickets for after July 3, or those who have questions should email info@riversidetheatre.org or call (319) 338-7672. If conditions change, an update will be posted on www.riversidetheatre.org

The Riverside Theatre crew and acting company will spend Thursday evacuating Lower City Park and readying the Gilbert Street Stage.

For the Jazz Festival, the change is more minor. Due to saturated ground on the University of Iowa Pentacrest, the Main Stage will be relocated to Dubuque Street near Iowa Avenue, at the same location as the Iowa Arts Festival Main Stage.

ORIGINAL STORY, JULY 1

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Two Fourth of July weekend events have been canceled due to high water levels following Sunday and Monday’s torrential rain.

The Cedar Rapids Boat Club has canceled their July 3 fireworks show. Boat Club commodore Jim Kaas said it’s the first time the show has been canceled due to high water in over 40 years.

“It’s unfortunate, but the water’s just too high,” he said. “We had to pull the plug on it.”

He said the fireworks will be saved and used as part of a show Sept. 6. That event will include drag boat races on the Cedar River, live music and a lighted boat parade at dusk, followed by the fireworks. With the combined fireworks from two events, he said it will be the biggest fireworks show they’ve ever produced.

The Five Seasons Ski Team has also canceled all Freedom Festival shows due to high water on the river. Shows for July 1, 3 and 4 have been canceled. The team hopes to be back on the water July 10 at 7 p.m., and the free Thursday ski shows should continue for the rest of the summer, weather permitting.

Also in Cedar Rapids, Old MacDonald’s Farm at the Bever Park Zoo was closed Tuesday for clean up. It was expected to reopen Thursday.

In Iowa City, Riverside Theatre development director Jennifer Holan said the City Park Shakespeare festival, which has faced flooding issues in past years, should go on as planned. Holan said she didn’t expect any traffic problems from adjacent Dubuque Street, which may be closed or one lane as flood barriers are installed. People can also access City Park by turning off Highway 6 onto Rocky Shore Drive or North Riverside Drive.

Iowa City Summer of the Arts executive director Lisa Barnes said organizers for the Iowa City Jazz Festival, scheduled for downtown Iowa City July 3 — 5, will post alternate driving routes on the website, www.summerofthearts.org She said festival organizers are working with the city and the University of Iowa to determine if any changes need to be made to the festival layout. If there are changes, she said they would also be posted online.

Other holiday weekend events should also go on as planned, event organizers said, including Coralville’s 4thFest and Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival fireworks show and Jamie Lynn Spears concert at the McGrath Amphitheatre on July 4.

“As of right now, we should be fine, unless it rains more,” Freedom Festival executive director Robyn Rieckhoff said. “We’re still on. Everything is just the same as before.”

For those hoping to camp or visit state parks this weekend, several state parks and recreation areas have storm damage, but many camp grounds should be operational this weekend, said Iowa Department of Natural Resources spokesman Mick Klemesrud.

Dolliver Memorial State Park in Webster County and George Wyth State Park in Black Hawk County were closed due to flooding Tuesday. Most of the Wapsipinicon State Park was closed due to flooding, and the campsite was closed until downed trees could be removed. Several other parks around the state have some flooded camp sites.

At Lake Macbride, repair crews were in the process of restoring electricity to the office, boat rental and campgrounds Tuesday. The Coralville Lake is high and within inches of back flowing into Lake Macbride. If it does, it could impact the Lake Macbride beach, concession area and some trails.

Johnson County Conservation has closed Hills Access Park near the city of Hills and the River Junction Access in southern Johnson County due to flooding.

In Linn County, the lower road of Palisades Kepler State Park leading to the beach and boat ramp was closed due to flooding, but the campground and the rest of the park remained open.

Klemesrud said a number of hiking and bike trails around the region are also closed due to flooding or downed trees. The list of closed parks and campgrounds will change in coming days as damage is assessed, water levels change and cleanup continues. Updated lists of closed trails and parks are available online at www.iowadnr.gov/parks

If people have reservations for campsites that are now closed, the DNR will contact them directly. There are a handful of campsites still open around the state, which can be reserved at http://iowastateparks.reserveamerica.com/ or by calling (877) 427-2757.

Boaters on the region’s lakes and rivers may also face problems.

Terrence Neuzil, spokesman for the Johnson County Emergency Management, said boaters on Coralville Lake are warned to take caution, and all boating could be suspended next week if the Coralville Lake hits 711 feet above sea level. West Overlook campground and boat ramp near the reservoir will likely close later this week

The DNR has suggested restricting boating on the Mississippi and at Lake Odessa in Louisa County due to high water. There is a large amount of debris in the water, as well as a problem with flooded cabins along the river from boat wakes.

“A lot of boaters are probably unaware that they can be liable for damages their boats may cause on flooded structures. A boat wake is essentially an extension of the boat,” said DNR Conservation Officer Burt Walters.

Walters said access is also a major issue with an estimated 95 percent of the boat ramps under water along Iowa’s border.

Heavy rainfall has created a much stronger than normal current and deposited large amounts of debris into the river, creating unsafe boating conditions. Swimming, wading or entering the Mississippi River during these high river stages is highly discouraged. Much of the debris can’t be easily seen, he said, as it lies just under the surface or is mixed in with water from what was flooded upstream.

l Comments: (319) 398-8434; alison.gowans@sourcemedia.net

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