Seward’s July 4th celebration goes virtual

For the first time in 152 years, Nebraska’s official Fourth of July city won't have its traditional celebration
Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 10:24 AM CDT
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SEWARD, Neb. (WOWT) - The coronavirus pandemic is impacting the 4th of July celebrations all over.

Year after year, people living in Seward look forward to the sound of cannon fire waking them up every July 4.

“We logistically bring a lot of what we call firepower to the event here,” Jerry Meyer, the Nebraska National Guard Historian explained.

For this years’ grand celebration honoring the 100th anniversary of the Rivoli Theater, actors were going to be flown in and the 1776 soldiers from Nebraska’s unit would be reenacting America’s fight for independence.

“We’ll see 10,000 people in this building on one day, on July 4th. It is our biggest day of the year,” Meyer said.

Ultimately, the coronavirus pandemic scrapped those plans.

“You know, we’re not going to have large groups here at all,” he said. “As a matter of fact, July 4th, we’ll be closed.”

For the first time in the 152 years, the Fourth of July has been celebrated in Seward — the day is going virtual.

Everything from the firing of Rivoli’s anvil, to the singing of the national anthem, to the day’s dedications by the Nebraska National Guard Museum, everything will be done virtually this year.

Clark Kolterman has been organizing the July 4th celebration in the red, white, and blue city for 50 years now. Obviously this year was a big adjustment.

“Even the Olympics was canceled,” Kolterman said. “And we thought if the Olympics is canceled, we should probably be canceled too. It almost would have been arrogant for us to try and have the celebration.”

Being that Seward is Nebraska’s official 4th of July city, Kolterman and the rest of the committee began planning the event to be shown in videos posted on the committee’s Facebook page so families wouldn’t miss out.

“We do have a virtual car show, we have a virtual run, we have a homemade apple pie making demonstration,” Kolterman said running off some of the lists of events.

Even though the in-person celebration is just the latest tick added to the list of events canceled because of COVID-19, Kolterman wants families to know this year will be just as special as years past.

“We still have the 4th of July, we’re just going to go virtual this year for us,” Kolterman said. “So we still will have our 152nd 4th of July, it’s just going to be different in this crazy year like everything else is.”

Unfortunately, there will be fireworks shown this year.

Kolterman tells 6 News because of the big changes this year, the celebration committee is already looking to make next years 4th of July twice as big.

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