A happy coincidence and a potential change in land use mean that Independence Day celebrations will look a little bit different in Yankton this year.
Next Thursday, Music at the Meridian — which traditionally starts the Thursday nearest to the Fourth of July — will be held in conjunction with the usual fireworks show which, this year, will be launched from the top deck of the Meridian Bridge.
Yankton Events Coordinator Brittany LaCroix told the Press & Dakotan it was an opportunity to highlight one of the great symbols of Yankton.
“We came to this decision because our bridge is such a beautiful landmark in our community and it’s up higher,” LaCroix said. “With Music at the Meridian happening on the same night as the Fourth of July, we thought this was a good time to switch over.”
The top deck of the Meridian Bridge will be closed to foot traffic at 8 a.m. on July 4, with the bottom deck closing at 9 p.m.
The last time the Fourth of July fireworks show was moved up to the Meridian Bridge was 2014 due to wet conditions ahead of the holiday. Also, a segment of last year’s Riverboat Days fireworks show was also launched from the bridge.
LaCroix added that the change reflects the future status of the land where Yankton has traditionally launched its fireworks on the Nebraska side of the river.
“It’s also been brought to our attention that the land that we usually use to shoot fireworks off on the Nebraska side may not be available to us in the years to come,” she said. “There may be some owner switches, development or something happening over there. We’re not quite sure what it is, but it’s been brought to our attention that we might want to start coming up with another plan when and if that does happen.”
She said that switching to the bridge now will benefit future planning.
“When it does come to that time where we need to switch over because we don’t have access to that land, we already know everything that’s going on and logistically we can make it work.”
Preceding the fireworks show will be Music at the Meridian featuring the Bluewater Kings Band. The event starts at 6 p.m. and will feature food trucks, painting of the Meridian Mural and children’s activities.
LaCroix said timing was aligned perfectly between Music at the Meridian and Independence Day.
“It just kind of happened,” she said. “Music at the Meridian traditionally has been every Thursday in July and the first three Thursdays in August. This year, it just matched up.”
She said that it also gives Yankton an opportunity to experiment with enhancing the evening’s festivities — especially with some other events no longer being held.
“We’ve heard from the communities and we’ve seen other communities do events on the Fourth of July,” she said. “With Third on Third not happening this year through the Meridian District, we thought there needs to be something that happens. This is kind of a good test run to see if the community is really ready to support a Fourth of July event.”
LaCroix said that Independence Day events can be a hit-or-miss prospect.
“The Fourth of July is kind of one of those awkward holidays where, depending on when the Fourth of July lands, some people have to go to work the next day,” she said. “It’s one of those weird holidays where people want to celebrate, but they don’t always have the ability to celebrate, so I think this is a good determining factor in whether we can, as a community, support an event that happens on a holiday and on the Fourth of July. It might be able to tell us if we can plan future Fourth of July events or maybe we just let it be one of those pop-up events that happen every so many years when it lands on the same day as Music at the Meridian or another event that’s already happening.”
LaCroix said she’s anticipating a great time for all.
“I just really encourage everyone to come down at 6 p.m., bring blankets and chairs to sit on and really enjoy the view, enjoy good music and enjoy a great fireworks show to help celebrate Independence Day here in Yankton.”
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