Our Town Seward: 4th of July

Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 10:05 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - From a grand parade to fireworks, the 4th of July celebration in Seward has it all.

“The 4th of July is put on at no charge to the people who come to celebrate,” 4th of July committee treasurer Jill Kruse said. “It’s entirely run by sponsorships and donations.” What makes this celebration even more amazing is it’s put on by volunteers. “I think there are a lot of people who think it must be some grand, orchestrated event with executive directors and an all-year staff, but it’s not,” committee member Jessica Kolterman said. “It’s all run by volunteers.”

This year, there’s going to be excitement at the Nebraska National Guard Museum. “We are dedicating our women warriors exhibit on the 4th of July,” museum executive director Jerry Meyer said. “But the day before, we are unveiling our new weapons display room as well.”

As usual, there’s going to be craft show around the court house square. “My husband and I have been a part of it as vendors for probably 15 years,” Culleen Bauer said. “The wonderful couple, Sharon and Steve, who previously were in charge, decided to move to a different area of the 4th of July events this year, so we stepped in and are trying to fill their shoes.”

And you can count on great food options in ‘food alley.’ “We set up two blocks of food vendors,” organizer Lois Kimsey said. “I just crave the excitement, setting people up, and making sure it’s all going smooth.”

Making sure the celebration goes smoothly takes collaboration from many different groups. “The city gets everything spruced up around town,” Kruse said. “They put up the banners downtown, they get the parade route ready, and put all of the dumpsters out. They get the electricity ready for the food alley.”

“We have the courthouse square. Seward is the county seat,” county commissioner Darrell Zabrocki said. “A lot of things happen at the courthouse. As a county official, we provide that square as a place to have those activities that greatly enhance the 4th of July.”

A 4th of July celebration has been going on in Seward for 150 years. But the celebration we know today has been in the last 50 years. Clark Kolterman has played a role in making the event a success. “My dad and Clark are twins, and their class had a group of students who wanted to do something to leave a legacy to the community,” Kolterman said. “They as a class, a group of teenagers, kind of rejuvenated the celebration with the help of many leaders in the community.” It turns out, there’s still a youth component on the committee every year. “I joined the committee when I was ten,” Kolterman said. “What’s really cool is that even as a kid, they let you weigh in and have perspective and share your thoughts and ideas. We still try to do that today.”

The fireworks show tops off the day. “We shoot off more than $1,000 in fireworks a minute,” Curt Coddington said. “We have an all volunteer crew of about 10 people. We work from as soon as we can get going in the morning to 6 p.m. at night on the 4th of July to get it all set up.”

As you might expect, volunteers will continue making the 4th of July memorable in Seward for years to come. “We’ve had people who want to do our fireworks for us, and we say you’d have to make it a negative amount to do it, because we all do it for free, because we love it,” Coddington said.

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