Estelle Nicholas and Chandler Vaage are all smiles aboard the rides on wristband day. -Reporter photo by Chris Barragy
July 4th celebration is a record-breaker
by Marianne Gasaway
and Michelle Watson
Huge crowds enjoyed every aspect of Clear Lake’s six-day Fourth of July celebration, making it a record-setting event.
Evans United Shows owners Tom and Nancy Evans said Clear Lake followed the pattern they have been seeing since the carnival was able to open its season in April— the public is anxious to put the pandemic in the rear view mirror and appreciative opportunities to gather and celebrate.
“Everything just went really well, from the weather to the general operations, it was a success,” said Tom Evans. “And people were so polite and just ready to be out,” added Nancy.
Chamber of Commerce CEO Stacy Doughan echoed the Evans’ sentiments.
“This year’s 4th of July celebration was a huge success. There were a record-breaking number of people every day enjoying the festivities.” It was Doughan’s first July 4th as leader, since the 2019 event was cancelled due to COVID concerns. “It felt great to be back to normal. We’re grateful to everyone who helps make the week a success,” she added.
The park was steadily busy and even packed during peak entertainment hours, as well as on July 4 leading up to the fireworks display over the lake. Chamber staff estimated some 10,000 to 11,000 people attended the Arch Allies free concert in the park Friday night.
Hand sanitizing stations and reminders to socially distance were present in the park, but largely the event looked like it has in years past.
Elizabeth Curry and her seven-year-old daughter, Ava, were among the few who were wearing masks as they enjoyed the rides. “We feel comfortable being here, but since Ava is too young to be vaccinated, I wanted to show my support and wear a mask, too,” said Elizabeth.
Friends Jeff Brasing, Eric Meyer and Justin Moore were happy to be staying with relatives in Clear Lake over the holiday weekend and even more happy to spend time hanging out in the park.
“The last year was long, with not much to do and no one to do it with,” said Jeff. “We liked the bumper cars the best.”
Behind the scenes
Clear Lake Police Chief Pete Roth pointed out that most city departments are involved in Clear Lake’s Fourth of July celebration in some respect, whether it be planning, set-up, or on-duty.
“Despite the fact we took 2020 off due to COVID and added even more events in 2021 (such as Monday’s Freedom 5K), we were able to accommodate the large crowds that attended and increased vehicle traffic,” said Chief Roth. “Many city personnel and volunteers worked extra hours and sacrificed their holiday weekend in order to help provide an enjoyable and safe event for the community. I am grateful for all of their efforts.”
Preliminary numbers released by the police department showed 467 calls for service between June 30 and July 5. The highest call volume came on Sunday, July 4, when 137 calls were made to the CLPD. In 2019 (July 2-5) there were 426 calls for service and in 2020, when no event was held, there were 294 calls June 30-July 5.
Calls reporting illegal fireworks activity were up slightly in 2021. This year 40 calls were made to the department June 30-July 5. That is one more than was made in 2020 and eight more than 2019 (July 2-7).
“Since the department upgraded its phone and 911 system, we are now able to report all phone calls received by the communication center,” explained the chief. “Dispatchers handled around 903 calls during the July 4th celebration, 182 911 calls and 721 routine phone line calls. For reference, the department received 150 911 calls in 2019 and 100 911 calls in 2018 for the event (2020 data is not available due to the software upgrade). Out of the 182 911 calls received in 2021, 93 of those calls were hang-ups, misdials, or errors. This represents 51 percent of the 911 calls during the July 4th celebration and about 20 percent of our total calls for service. These numbers are extremely problematic because it places a burden on the dispatcher center and ties up 911 lines. I would ask that people ensure their cell phone screens are locked while not in use in order to prevent misdials.”
Citation and arrest numbers were not available at press time.
The second annual boat parade, which was held at 1 p.m. on Sunday, is another fun tradition that is growing in popularity. A windy day with rough waters may have beached some of the boats that would have taken part in the parade, but it didn’t deter the spectators. Many docks were full of flag waving people cheering on the parade. There were also many people floating in the water as they cooled off and enjoyed the parade. Of course, the Seawall and City Beach area was packed with spectators, as was State Park.
Boat horns could be heard on South Shore as one group of young boys yelled from the water, “honk if you love America.”
American flags seemed to be the decoration of choice for many boats. Inflatables and balloons were also popular.
Now that’s a memory!
The Fourth of July parade of 2021 will always hold special memories for Chloe Mueller and Zach Lester, both of Clear Lake. Chloe, her family and friends, were all watching the parade from the front lawn of Bobby and Jenny Kopriva’s Main Street home when the Clear Lake Bank and Trust float stopped. Chloe’s dad, Kirk Mueller, and Paul Stevenson, both employees at CLB&T, started unfurling a long banner. On the banner was printed the words, “Chloe, will you marry me?” At that time, Zach came around the float and got down on one knee in front of Chloe with a pretty sparkler that outshone all the other holiday sparklers.
“I was completely surprised,” said Chloe. “Zach did a great job of pulling off the surprise. It was also very special to be surrounded by my family and friends. I couldn’t stop shaking with excitement.”