Waiting patiently along the edge of the sidewalk, children were leaning over to take a peek at what was coming up the street; were they coming yet? Soon, the police sirens blared with flashing lights, and local firetrucks slowly crept up behind them. Crawling down the street, the drivers tossed out candy for the children to collect and store in their bags for later. Coming soon, the Stars and Strips Celebration in Guttenberg, a 4th of July celebration held the Saturday before, and it’s just around the corner in Clayton County!
My day at the Stars and Stripes Celebration started in the park, where children were playing on inflatable slides and obstacle courses. As I walked by the large, colorful inflatables, a child ran into the puffy arena and squeezed through the obstacles in his way before popping out on the other side grinning from ear to ear. The aroma of burgers drew me toward the steaming patties sizzling away on the grill, and I had to get one for myself. The steam rolling off my cheeseburger enticed me to take a bite, savoring the juicy burger before I sunk my teeth back in for another.
As the crowd filtered out of the park toward the town center, I followed along to find an open spot along River Park Drive. I had a full view of the Mississippi river, and a line of children sitting along the curb with their plastic bags, ready to swoop in and get candy, and thought back to when I was that age; when I used to cover my ears to muffle the sound of the sirens, and then race to get my favorite sweets. Firetrucks, decorated bicycles, and horses paraded down the street, flashing their lights, ringing their bells or clip-clopping their hooves in celebration of the town and our great nation. Various groups and organizations paraded down the street to support their causes, and children filled their bags to the brim with enough candy to last them until Halloween.
Evening faded into night as the sun continued its descent behind the bluffs, and everybody gathered to the Mississippi River dike with their lawn chairs to or blankets. As the sky grew darker and darker, everybody sat quietly, until a high pitched whistle could be heard ascending into the sky, before it burst with a delicate pop followed by a large ‘boom!’ that echoed off the bluffs. The fireworks display filled the sky with colorful bursts of glimmering light that left the crowd in awe. As the Grand Finale flashed and faded away, applause clamored all the way down the dike as people gathered their lawn chairs and filtered out of the park.
Since I was a child I’ve been to this celebration of the nation and the community of Guttenberg, and every year is better than last. With events and entertainment throughout the day provided by community groups and the local school, there’s a wide range of what you can do or what you can see throughout the day, from the bounce house in the park to the award-winning drill team’s performance after the parade. There’s never a dull moment, and it’s a family event to enjoy the festivities of Independence Day before the holiday!
Written by Jayna Felder | Photo Credit to Guttenberg Chamber of Commerce