Fun on the Fourth

by Tim Froberg

The skies of the Fox Cities will light up again on our nation’s birthday.

One year after many local fireworks shows were canceled or altered, several local communities will return to traditional Fourth of July fireworks displays and celebrations.

The City of Appleton will hold its annual Independence Day celebration at Memorial Park on July 3, highlighted by its Festival Foods Fireworks display. The event is hosted by the Appleton Jaycees and features live music by a pair of local bands: Twisted Chords from 4:30 to 7 p.m. and Boogie & the Yo-Yo’z from 7:30 to 11 p.m., with a break for the fireworks.

There is no admission charge, and food and beverages will be sold. Proceeds go to the Appleton Jaycees’ Christmas shopping event for underprivileged children.

A year ago, the Memorial Park celebration was cancelled, and the fireworks show was held July 4 at Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna. The event returns to its traditional date – a day before the Fourth of July.

“That allows families to have their own personal get-togethers and barbecues on the Fourth,” said Jon Lamers, fireworks chairperson for the Appleton Area Jaycees. “We always try to put on the best fireworks shows and celebrations in the valley. I think we’re going to have the same size crowd we usually have, if not bigger.”

Masks aren’t required, but areas on the hill at Memorial Park – where crowds gather to listen to the music and view the fireworks – will be spaced out and marked to accommodate social distancing. 

The Neenah-Menasha Festival Foods Fireworks are scheduled for July 4. They will be launched from Doty Park, but the best viewing spot is the Riverside Park area. The fireworks are part of the CommunityFest celebration to be held July 3 and 4 in Neenah and Menasha.

The activities start July 3 at Curtis Reed Square in Menasha with a concert featuring national recording artist Miles Nielsen and The Rusted Hearts. Miles is the son of legendary Cheap Trick front man Rick Nielsen. The show runs from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Meanwhile, a Pajama Jam concert is scheduled from 7:45 to 8:45 p.m. at Shattuck Park in Neenah, with music by Rhex Arboleda and the Y. It will be followed by the Parade of Lights in the Riverside Park area, starting at 9:15 p.m.

A day of music and fun follows on July 4 in both communities, starting at 2:30 p.m. Jefferson Park will be the main site for music and entertainment in Menasha, offering different musical acts ranging from a Tribute to Elvis to Breakwater Rocks.

Entertainment in Neenah will be held on the Main Stage, Park Drive, and East Lawn. There will be two performances by the Webfooters Water Ski show.

“It’s exciting to have CommunityFest back and get back to some type of normalcy,” said Michael Kading, Neenah’s director of parks and recreation. “Hopefully, we can get back to enjoying the summer that was meant to be.”

New London offers its annual fireworks show on July 4 at Hatten Park. Gates open at 6 p.m.  Food and children’s games will be available.

Kimberly will hold their fireworks display July 3 at Sunset Park. It is part of a day-long celebration sponsored by the Kimberly Fire Department. Food trucks and local organizations will provide food and beverages. Children’s games will be available and five different bands will play, starting at noon.