One year after tragic event, Red White and Boom! returns

One year after tragic event, Red White and Boom! returns


Despite the tragic circumstances surrounding 2018's Red, White & Boom! fireworks display, this year's event is a go.

Set for July 3, Red, White & Boom! features a spectacular fireworks display, as well as live music, food and beverage vendors, and special presentations at a variety of locations.

On July 3, 2018, two people died after a large tree limb fell into a crowd that had gathered on the front lawn of the Rock Island County Courthouse to view the fireworks show.

Daniel Mendoza, 61, of Rock Island, was pronounced dead at the scene. Lawrence Anderson, 72, of Moline, was taken to the hospital, where he later died.

Several others were injured in the incident, including 21-year-old Kataivreonna Carter of East Moline, who was pregnant at the time; a 3-year-old boy; and Rachel and Eric Clem from Maysville, Iowa, and their 2-year-old son, Wyatt.

The families of Anderson and Mendoza have filed wrongful death suits against the city of Rock Island, Rock Island County and its sheriff's department, and Raney Horticultural. The Clems have also filed suit against the same group, respectively, for negligence and willful and wanton conduct.

This year, because unrelated litigation has delayed the demolition of the old Rock Island County Courthouse, the area where the tragic accident took place is closed to the public. A fence surrounding the property will keep anyone from viewing fireworks from that location.

Instead, people will head to other places in Rock Island.

"I just drove past the fenced-in area at the Rock Island County Courthouse,'' said Rock Island Deputy Police Chief Jason Foy. "The courthouse area being closed will add foot traffic to other areas of downtown Rock Island, especially Schwiebert Riverfront Park.

"We have taken steps to add manpower to downtown to make sure the night is safe and enjoyable for all involved. We have a plan in place for foot patrols and guiding traffic throughout the day. We will be properly staffed.''

Events at Schwiebert Park will begin at 5 p.m. Features will include inflatables (a $5 wristband is the cost of admission), additional children's activities, the opening of the Bent River Brewing Company Beer Garden on the park's Great Lawn, and a Fourth of July proclamation and accompanying military tribute.

The band Country Couch Potatoes will take the Ellis Kell Stage at 5:15 p.m., followed by a 6:30 p.m. performance by the Metropolitan Youth Program Drill Team of Rock Island. Smooth Groove will perform at 7.

The Schwiebert Riverfront Park boat docks will be open for boaters. The 23 slips will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

"Think of others who are there to enjoy the event,'' Foy said when asked for advice for event-goers.

On the Iowa side, spring flooding has affected the celebration, especially in Davenport. LeClaire Park, underwater for more than two months and a common gathering spot for thousands during Red, White & Boom!, currently is closed.

Instead, Modern Woodmen Park, home of the Quad Cities River Bandits minor-league baseball team, will be open for fireworks viewing. The ballpark has a seating capacity of 5,000-plus, a berm area and ample other space.

"We have chair-back seats, plenty of room, great food, entertainment and a staff that will do all it can to make the celebration enjoyable," said Bandits owner Dave Heller. "There will be extra security for the safety and well-being of all, but you won't notice it.''

Modern Woodmen Park will offer a variety of theme-park rides and children's activities, including bounce houses at the First Baseline Party Plaza.

The band Rude Punch will perform from 6 to 7:45 p.m. and then take the stage following the 9:30 p.m. fireworks show.  The 34th Army Band and the brass musicians of Scrap Metal also will perform.

Bechtel Park and the Freight House Farmers Market parking lot are also suggested viewing sights.

"We want people to exhale and have a great time,'' Heller said. "We understand as much as anyone the impact the flood has had on the Quad-Cities, and we want a night of great fun and celebration.''

Working to put the past in the past, Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch is hoping for a safe and momentum-building event for his city.

"We're encouraged that Red, White & Boom! is continuing and look forward to hosting citizens from throughout the Quad-Cities in our downtown and hope they support our flood-affected businesses," Klipsch said.

This year's fireworks will be fired from the Rock Island Arsenal, and a celebration is planned on the lawn of Quarters One.

The celebration will include:

  • A kids' activities zone with bounce house attractions and games.
  • A car cruise featuring a bevy of vintage rides and rods.
  • Food and beverages available for purchase.
  • A live broadcast from 5 to 7:30 p.m. by disc jockey Pat Leuck of country-music station WLLR-FM (103.7).

Eric Kramer, Rock Island Arsenal public information officer, said everyone 16 and older must show a valid state-issued ID to gain admittance. Access will be available through both the Rock Island and Moline gates. The Moline gate will offer the easiest access to the event site. 

Foy said the Rock Island Police Department's wish is for a safe and fun night for all involved.

"That is the goal with any event,'' he said. "It's a celebration, and we want people to enjoy the night.''

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