<&firstgraph>The Fourth of July calls for celebration, but in Wanamingo this year, residents may need to create their own fun.
<&firstgraph>At the May 11 Wanamingo City Council meeting, the council voted to cancel/scale back a number of events held in the city on the Fourth of July.
<&firstgraph>As the days quickly approach toward summer, city officials and local organizations have to think twice about whether or not the well-loved event will go on as planned. Social distancing guidelines and gathering orders from Gov. Tim Walz will make it difficult to hold a proper celebration — a celebration known for bringing in crowds of people from all areas to gather and celebrate Independence Day and raise funds for local causes.
<&firstgraph>Mayor Ryan Holmes said many of the people he has talked to are “pretty” understanding of the cancellations/scaling back of events, given the circumstances.
<&firstgraph>“We’ve had a lot of discussions about this. We don’t know what this [virus] is doing and a lot of other places are canceling their Fourth of July parades and things like that,” said Ryan. “Some of our biggest concerns are having people congregate, since there’s a lot of people coming from out of town, and we don’t know where they’ve been and what not.”
<&firstgraph>He also said they are trying not to encourage groups of larger sizes to get together for a celebration such as the Fourth of July.
<&firstgraph>“We’re in historic times, this is a unique time,” said Holmes. “We’ll make it and we’ll have this again, but right now everything is so up in the air.”
<&firstgraph>Some of the larger events included in the cancellations are the grand parade, Minneola Church pancakes, kid’s games, food vendors, silent auction, free open swim, community band concert, the Lion’s strawberry/popcorn/cotton candy/snow cone stand, duck float fundraiser, Fire Department water fights and the bean bag and volleyball tournaments.
<&firstgraph>The Fire Department also cancelled its fireman’s dance usually held the night before the Fourth of July celebration.
<&firstgraph>Wanamingo Fire Department firefighter Monty Schaefer said as a department, they didn’t want to risk someone’s life by having the dance. Especially since a majority of its crowd is the high risk category for contracting the virus.
<&firstgraph>“There’s a lot of time and energy that goes into [the dance.] I’d be surprised if the governor allowed big events like that [to happen] anyway,” said Council member Jeremiah Flotterud .
<&firstgraph>Events that may still be possible if they are scaled back, depending on the orders presented at the time are the drive-up ribs at Blondie’s Butcher Shop, a food/drink special at JB’s Tavern, Trinity Lutheran’s church service and the horseshoe event. A few of the minor events planned by outside organizations both on and off public property, such as the tractor/truck pull and bounce house, will need to be reviewed and planned how the events will proceed in the near future.
<&firstgraph>Larry VanDeWalker of the Wanamingo VFW/Honor Guard said while they will still put out the Field of Flags, they most likely won’t hold a program or invite the public to place flags into the ground, as they have in past years. More details about how that may look will be discussed further at a meeting this week. VanDeWalker said phase two of the Wanamingo Veterans Memorial is expected to be placed at the memorial well before the anticipated completion date of July 4. The new sculpture, ‘Freedom is Not Free,’ will recognize military members on land, air and sea who have served from the Revolutionary War to present day.
<&firstgraph>Since last July, the Wanamingo VFW and Honor Guard have worked to raise funds for the 6-foot cast bronze sculpture, and have since completed their goal.
<&firstgraph>Although many of the events have been canceled, the fireworks show will still go on as planned.
<&firstgraph>“I’ve gotten great feedback from clubs and organizations, and nobody is mad about this,” said Boulton of the cancellations, alluding to concerns from celebration organizers. “They just want a consensus so there’s one voice, bringing more certainty that most of these big things aren’t happening. [The council] taking the lead will help these other groups make their call.”