Celebration of Freedom Fireworks return to Cedar Rapids

Published: Jul. 4, 2021 at 10:51 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - After being canceled last year because of the pandemic, the annual Celebration of Freedom Fireworks returned Sunday night to light up the sky in Cedar Rapids.

The show caps off the yearly Freedom Festival, which took on a smaller, virtual form in 2020.

For some in attendance Sunday, making sure they got a good view required an arrival well before nightfall, with the show starting a little before 10 p.m.

“We showed up about 2 o’clock,” Kayla Townsend of Cedar Rapids said from her spot along 1st St. W.

“We came at 10, we put the tarp down to save our spot. And then my husband, I dropped him off at about 2 o’clock,” explained Denise Lewis of Marion, who set up with her family next to the 2nd Ave. Bridge. “We got everything out, and then the girls and I came later, around 4.”

The Celebration of Freedom Fireworks are an Independence Day tradition for so many, like Lewis’ daughter, Avery.

“I like how they’re so big, and they’ll entertain you a lot,” Avery said.

Organizers said that not only was this year’s show the biggest in Freedom Festival history but also the largest in the state this year.

“It’s something that’s been in the works for a long time and something that our pyrotechnic team at J & M Displays have wanted to do because they want to put on the best show that we can, so this was the year that we could make it happen,” Freedom Festival Executive Director Karol Shepherd said.

Planning for the fireworks show and the entire Freedom Festival takes an entire year, according to Shepherd, with work typically starting July 5 of the year before.

Shepherd said she was glad that work didn’t get scrapped in 2021.

“Even in January and February, we were still in a pandemic, and so we weren’t sure we would even be able to host in-person events, and as we know, things continued to improve, vaccine rollout continued, things started to open up, and so it just, again, timing is most amazing,” Shepherd said.

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