HJ - COVID Cancels Clarinda Fireworks

Fireworks burst over Clarinda Municipal Stadium-Eberly Field during the 2019 Clarinda A’s fireworks display. Due to concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the 2020 show has been canceled. (Herald-Journal file photo)

Baseball and fireworks has been the staple of the Clarinda Independence Day celebration for many years. However, the skies over Clarinda Municipal Stadium-Eberly Field will stay dark this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Traditionally, the Clarinda A’s host a baseball game on the night of July 3. Following the game, Clarinda citizens are treated to a fireworks display provided with the assistance of the Clarinda Volunteer Fire Department.

However, Clarinda Fire Chief Roger Williams said a decision was made in late May to cancel the fireworks show because of ongoing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. Williams said he made the decision after speaking with Clarinda City Manager Gary McClarnon and officials with is the company the fire department orders the fireworks from each year.

“About a month ago, I checked with Gary about the pandemic and at that time the A’s program was not sure about having a season,” Williams said. “I contacted J&M Displays to see, with what was going on in the world, if we could even get the fireworks. They told me 80 percent of the fireworks shows they sell to in Iowa had already been canceled.”

Williams had placed his order for $8,000 worth of fireworks in February to qualify for discounts available for reordering and paying for the purchase upfront. When he contacted J&M Displays in May, he was told the deadline for canceling the order was quickly approaching.

In light of the pandemic, Williams was told the fire department had two options on how to proceed: The department could cancel the order, but would lose 28% of its refund. The second option was to have the company store the fireworks in a bunker in Creston until next year.

“There was no cost to have them hold the fireworks until next year, so that was a no-brainer for me. I didn’t want to lose 28 percent of our money,” Williams said. “They guaranteed the fireworks are going to work next year, so we have to believe and trust them. Several other people are doing the same.”

Soon after the decision was made to cancel the Clarinda display, the MINK League announced it would be canceling its 2020 baseball season. As a result, there would be no Clarinda A’s game to attract fans to the stadium for the display.

Williams said he assisted Pat Eberly with ordering fireworks for the Clarinda A’s display for several years. Then, three years ago, the Clarinda Volunteer Fire Department started overseeing the ordering and fundraising to pay for the display.

“We have the cash flow pay for the fireworks upfront and then we get our money back through donations,” Williams said. “We started partnering with the Clarinda Chamber of Commerce and the Clarinda Foundation on the fundraising to help ensure we get reimbursed. It worked out fine last year.”

Businesses or individuals who would like to make a donation toward the $8,000 cost of the fireworks ordered this year may contact the Clarinda Foundation. Williams said a more intensified fundraising campaign will then be held next year as the July 3 show approaches to regain the money the fire department has already invested.

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