Let Freedom Ring: Celebrations Mark July 4th In Benton County

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Many large events in Benton County have been cancelled during past months due to concerns about social distancing during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Although the Pandemic is still here, 4th of July celebrations are being planned in open areas where social distancing is possible, and families can have fun. The first celebrations will begin on July 3rd in several nearby locations.
“Fireworks will begin at Osage Bluff Marina on July 3rd, as soon as it is good and dark,” said owner/operator Jason Reynolds. “But, if people don’t get here between 6 and 8 PM, we will be full. Our motel and bunkhouse/convention center are full, and I have had to turn people down who want reservations. A rain day will be on Saturday, July 4th.”
Reynolds, who has been in Warsaw since 1982 and putting on a fireworks display for many years, said that there should be plenty of visibility of the fireworks on the land, docks and boats, and that it would be good to bring a lawn chair or blanket if watching on land. The actual fireworks will be launched from a barge on the water for safety purposes. There will also be a fire boat and an ambulance on hand for any emergencies.
“My helpers and I spend a couple of days setting up the display, then, when we are ready to launch, there is just one fuse to light,” said Reynolds. “We will have volunteers to help direct traffic, and a volunteer welcoming people into the Marina. Although the celebration is free to the public, the volunteer at the entrance to the Marina will be taking donations for next year’s fireworks fund. Everyone donating money will get a ticket that enables them to get a prize. A donation of $20 or more will allow the donor to choose a prize from an assortment of t-shirts, mugs, or assortment bags. Smaller donations will result in a prize of something different.”
Reynolds said that there will be vendors at the event selling snow cones, kettle corn, tacos and burritos. The vendors will donate 20 percent of their sales back to the fireworks fund. He also reported that he gets his fireworks at direct pricing from Spirit 76, in Boonesville.
“We will have safety in mind, and will do patrols around the area,” said Reynolds.
Reynolds said that he wanted to thank the Warsaw Leathernecks, Lost Acres Viking’s Club, the Warsaw Shrine Club, and others who donated to the fireworks fund. Osage Bluff Marina is located at 17393 Osage Bluff Rd. which is four miles south of Warsaw on South Hwy 83.
R-Bar & Grill, in Warsaw, at 31390 Warsaw Ave., will begin fireworks at 9:15 PM, on July 3rd, that will be visible by land or water near the 65 mile marker bridge. (The old Roadhouse is located at the 65 mm, but it and its dock are private property and not open to the public.) Kevin LaPittus, and R-Bar co-owner Stacey Smalley Taylor talked about whether they wanted to do a Seventh Annual Fireworks display at R-Bar, because of the cost and the fact that COVID-19 shutdowns had caused them a bit of a financial hardship. But, they decided that during this time when there are divisions in the country, it was more important to celebrate Independence Day and those who have fought for our freedom.
“We will have about 16 minutes of free fireworks and every minute will be like a finale with huge bursts,” said LaPittus. “We expect that the whole area around R-Bar will be filled up. Some people will come early and eat, or come later for the fireworks. Several people who are helping with the fireworks, such as Aaron Porter, have EMT or firefighter experience which will contribute to the safety of the event.”
LaPittus said that he had gotten all of his fireworks from Kovac’s Fireworks that operate in Warsaw, St. Joseph and Laurie, Missouri.
Also on July 3rd is a spectacular fireworks display in Clinton, at Hwys 7 and 52 overpass in Clinton. It will begin at 9:30 PM. Olde Glory Days that generally happens in conjunction with this celebration was cancelled a couple of months ago due to COVID-19.
Warsaw City and Chamber of Commerce plan for a July 4th Fireworks display at Drake Harbor. The two entities are splitting the $10,000 cost for fireworks, and the City is providing police help with exit traffic from the event. Volunteers are helping with parking, and when all the slots are filled, traffic will be directed to additional parking sites nearby. Drake Harbor will be open at 5 PM for those who want to bring picnic foods, and fireworks begin at dark. Parking will be available on one side of Harrison Street, and special parking for the disabled or seniors will be in the lower level Community Building parking lot. The fireworks are usually held at the Truman Dam, but Drake Harbor was selected for the event for the second time in two years due to maintenance schedules at the Dam.
Lincoln usually has a whole day of activities at its 4th of July Celebrations, but this year there will only be fireworks that begin at 9:30 PM. It will be held at Lincoln City Park where there is room for social distancing, but it is believed that many people will watch from their cars around the lake, or from parking lots near businesses on Hwy 65.
The National Fire Protection Association reports fireworks are to blame for about 40 percent of structure fires on Independence Day. Missouri’s Fire Marshal Tim Bean is offering the following safety tips to follow for July 4th.
Confirm fireworks are legal where you live, and only purchase from licensed retailers. Only use fireworks in a large open space that has been cleared of flammable materials. Always keep young children away from fireworks. If teens are permitted to handle fireworks, they should closely supervised by an adult. Always wear eye protection. Make sure to have a garden hose or a bucket of water nearby in case of a fire. Only light fireworks one at a time. Never try to relight fireworks that have malfunctioned. Dispose of fireworks by soaking them in water and leaving them in a trash can. Never shoot fireworks off from a glass jar or container. Never use fireworks while consuming alcohol. And, Never store fireworks from season to season.