Thanks to the 100th anniversary of the First Army being based on the Rock Island Arsenal as well as Illinois' bicentennial celebrations, Ken Croken called this year’s Red White and Boom “extra special.”
In the Quad-Cities, Red White and Boom, set to return for its 14th year on Tuesday, July 3, is a community tradition. Ahead of the Fourth of July festivities, it’s also a tradition for Croken to announce Red White and Boom details during a mid-June news conference.
For the 14th time, Croken, Red White and Boom committee chair, stood behind a podium on Thursday morning, this time near home plate inside Modern Woodmen Park in downtown Davenport, to brief members of the community and local media on the event.
“Perhaps not altogether surprisingly, I am here to announce that we are having our nationally recognized Red White and Boom celebration here on the banks of the Mississippi, on both banks of the Mississippi, on July 3,” Croken said.
Again this year, Croken dressed for the occasion with a red-striped blazer and red and blue tie and explained that two dueling barges will be firing off a total of 4,500 pounds of fireworks on the Mississippi River beginning at 9:30 p.m., making the display, in his words, “unforgettable.”
Before the fireworks go off, three viewing locations — Modern Woodmen Park and LeClaire Park, both in Davenport, and Schwiebert Riverfront Park in Rock Island — will host live music, activities, food vendors and more starting at 5 p.m.
“We want people for a whole lot of reasons to start planning their Independence Day celebrations now,” Croken said. “We all know we’re going to do something and so we like to tell people several weeks out what our plans are so they can work them into their family schedules.”
Croken also viewed Thursday’s news conference as his “annual opportunity” to talk about public safety when handling fireworks.
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“Every year around this holiday, people are seriously injured,” he said. “I don’t believe there is a full understanding of the inherent danger involved with handling explosive devices.”
Outside fireworks of any kind — including sparklers — will not be allowed at any of the viewing areas during Red White and Boom, Croken said.
“The last thing you want anyone to say to you is, ‘Hold my beer and watch this,’” he said. “Come here and see professionals do it properly.”
Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch, standing beside Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms behind the podium, said, “This is really about our cities coming together."
It's also, he said, about family.
“It’s become a family tradition," Klipsch, mentioning his four kids and 10 grandkids, said. "I think that’s the same thing for a lot of families who come each year."
And each year, Croken said Red White and Boom always offers something “new or different."
“It keeps getting better and bigger in some way,” Croken said. "Every year, we have a little something different to offer the public, but we respect the tradition that is at the core of this celebration.”