Iowa City cancels Fourth of July fireworks, closes City Park Pool for the season

Fireworks over the Old Capitol. — photo by Adrianne Behning via Flickr

Iowa City is canceling its annual Fourth of July fireworks display due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The decision comes in collaboration with the Summer of the Arts, whose annual Iowa City Jazz Festival is held in unison with the City’s fireworks display,” the city said in a statement on Friday.

Summer of the Arts has also had to change its festival programming to maintain social distancing and other precautions to limit the spread of the virus. So far, Summer of the Arts has announced the following changes.

• Virtual programming for the Iowa Arts Festival, June 5-7, and the Jazz Festival, July 3-5

• Drive-in movies at the Iowa City Municipal Airport during the month of July for their Free Movie Series

• Live, virtual concerts for the Friday Night Concert Series in collaboration with the Iowa City Public Library and City Channel 4

More information about these changes can be found on the Summer of the Arts website.

The city also announced on Friday that City Park Pool will not open for its summer season this year. The public health proclamation Gov. Reynolds signed on Wednesday allows pools to reopen for lap swimming and swimming lessons. The city said the pools at Mercer Park Aquatics Center and Robert A. Lee Recreation Center will eventually reopen for lap swimming. Both will have new procedures in place for enhanced hygiene and social distancing.

These are just the latest changes to the normal summer events in the area caused by COVID-19.

On April 21, the organizers of Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival announced this year’s festival has been canceled. The Johnson County Fair and the Linn County Fair have both canceled their grounds and grandstand entertainment for this year. The state’s premier summertime cycling event, RAGBRAI, and its new competitor, Iowa’s Ride, are both on hold until next year.

The pandemic has also caused the CRPride Board of Directors to cancel Cedar Rapids’ Pride Fest. Iowa City Pride has also canceled its 2020 Pride Parade and Festival.

“The uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified in recent weeks, and the organization has concluded that the risk to public health of a large-scale gathering such as Pride preclude this year’s production of the annual event,” the Board of Directors of Iowa City Pride said in a statement on April 20.

The Iowa City Pride festivities would have celebrated the 50th anniversary of LGBTQ+ visibility in Iowa City. In 1970, a group of LGBTQ University of Iowa students marched in the 1970 Homecoming Parade, setting the stage for Iowa City’s own Pride organization.

Even though the parade and the festival have been canceled in Iowa City, the city’s government announced on Friday it will still celebrate June as Pride Month by displaying Pride banners along Washington Street, Wade Street and Williams Street. The Pride flag will also be flown on a flag pole at City Hall.

“The flag reminds us of the sacrifices made by activists involved in the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement,” Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague said in a written statement. “For the past 50 years, Iowa City has led the way in this fight towards full inclusivity and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community.”

“As Mayor, and a part of the LGBTQ+ family, I am beyond honored to fly this indelible icon, not only at City Hall, but through the streets of Iowa City in commemoration of 50 Years of Pride in Iowa City. May this awesome and amazing gesture swell pride within all of us throughout the month of June, and beyond.”

City of Iowa City photo