The Fourth of July Celebration at Lake Mendota provides ample room for friends and families to hang out and enjoy the evening's entertainment. (Reporter photos by Jennifer Sommer)
MENDOTA – This year, Mendota celebrated Independence Day a few days early. The Fourth of July Celebration went off with a bang at Lake Mendota, June 30.
Although activities started at 3 p.m., Jesse Arellano, Mendota Area Chamber of Commerce executive director said turnout was low in the afternoon due to the scorching heat. But by the time the sun settled, cars rolled in and people lined the lake and filled the open areas around the park. "It was slower throughout the day, but I think we expected that with the heat," he said.
This marked the second year that the Chamber held the fireworks display at the lake. For years prior, the Tri-County Fairgrounds was the venue. But with positive feedback after last year's change, Chamber board members decided to keep the new site for their annual celebration. One major difference this year was the date. The long-standing July 4th date was moved to the weekend before Independence Day, June 30.
Arellano acknowledged that the Chamber would not be able to please everyone, but changing the date did have some benefits. Along with the weekend schedule possibly being easier for families, Arellano noted that the early date was better suited for filling volunteer positions that are needed to make the event run smoothly. Approximately 50 volunteers – Chamber board members, Chamber ambassadors, Sweet Corn Festival Queens and attendants from the past two years – all helped to make the celebration a success. "Normally we struggle to find volunteers when it is on July 4th. This year everyone was willing to help," Arellano said.
As dusk settles in, spectators line the bank of Lake Mendota in anticipation of the fireworks display, June 30.
Food vendors included the Lions and Optimist Clubs and afternoon activities included face painting, henna tattoos, bounce houses, and a dunk tank. Big Uproar performed as the evening set in. Arellano hopes each year the event gets bigger and bigger. "I hope the event gets big enough that this is one of the towns that people talk about," he said.
Finally, the ball diamond's lights dropped and the fireworks show began. Arc Pyrotechnic, the fireworks vendor, was able to offer music synced to the show. And 3D Sound provided speakers to help extend the range for the music. Arellano noted this was only possible with the date change. This year's show was also slightly larger than last year's show, filling the sky with 20 minutes of bright, colorful lights.
In cooperation with the Mendota Police, Arellano noted that exiting after the event went smoothly, as well. The Mendota Fire Department and City of Mendota Streets Department also provided their services for the event. "It is really nice to have that partnership. I think we all see the benefit for the community," Arellano noted.
All-in-all, Arellano thought the event was a success. "I haven't received any negative feedback so far."
Arellano aims to talk to area businesses to see if they saw any spike in sales due to the event. He also will discuss the event with Chamber board members. As of now, next year's date has not been set. If it is scheduled for the Saturday before Independence Day, it would fall on June 29. Until then, the Chamber will begin their efforts to fill the Mendota Fireworks Fund for next year's spectacular event.