The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

July 4, 2013

Local celebrations include parades, flag raisings, fundraisers and fireworks

There were fireworks, a parade organized by Hispanic churches, a 49-year neighborhood tradition — and did we mention fireworks?

Relatively cool weather worked in the Fourth of July’s favor, bringing out an early crowd to Joplin’s Landreth Park on Thursday. Paul Bloomberg, city recreation director and event organizer, estimated that 15,000 people attended the city’s annual celebration.

The celebration included a $10,000, 30-minute fireworks display by Liberty Pyrotechnics, food vendors, and music from Duke Mason, the Jake Clark Band and Big Smitty.

Joplin resident Kyle Rossiter was among those spending the day at the event.

“We’ve done this for the past few years, and it has become a pretty fun addition to the Fourth,” Rossiter said. “In the past it has been almost too hot to plan anything at home, so this has been a great alternative to staying home. Everyone in town comes out to this to have fun.”

Thursday’s celebration also was a time for local organizations to ramp up their fundraising efforts. Joplin Lions Club members were manning a mobile grill station to raise money for the organization’s many charities, including eyeglasses for children and adults. Former club president Chris Howard said that with the cancellation of Joplin’s Boomtown Days festival, many organizations like the Lions Club have stepped up their efforts at events like Thursday’s celebration.

“Boomtown was where we made the lion’s share of our fundraising, so we are having to make sure that an event like this is even more successful,” Howard said.

Howard said 15 club volunteers turned out to man two shifts.

“We will probably pull in close to $1,000 today at this event, which will buy 14 pairs of glasses,” he said. “We’ve been at this for a long time, so we’ve got this down. It takes dedicated people willing to work on a holiday, but we don’t mind. This is a lot of fun for us, and it helps out so many people in the end. We work for free here, but we still give up something to be here, but it is worth it.”

Heather Jensen is a veteran fundraiser for groups like Joplin Bigger, Better, Stronger, which helped provide vacations for families that were affected by the May 22, 2011, tornado. Recently, her focus has turned to Oklahoma and many of the towns that were devastated by tornadoes this spring. Jensen was selling shirts and bracelets, and taking donations to help those in need in Oklahoma.

“Some of the families that came up here and volunteered at that time were impacted in the same way,” she said. “We are working hard for them like they did for us.”

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