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Let the illuminations begin
Fireworks displays, public and private, to mark America’s 244th
new_vlc_John Adams, public domain.jpg
John Adams was one of the Committee of Five to write the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

The July 4 holiday is just days away, and it’s time to celebrate our nation’s Declaration of Independence from the British empire. Here’s a little trivia to file away about the holiday. 

According to historians at 

“One of the most widely held misconceptions about the Declaration of Independence is that it was signed on July 4, 1776. In fact, independence was formally declared on July 2, 1776, a date that John Adams believed would be ‘the most memorable epocha in the history of America.’ On July 4, 1776, Congress approved the final text of the Declaration. It wasn’t signed until August 2, 1776.”

We checked, and the July 2 declaration referred to is the Lee Resolution for Independence. It was on that date the Continental Congress agreed it would make a formal statement. In a letter from John Adams to his wife, Abigail, he did indeed predict July 2 would be the one Americans would celebrate every year. “It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

While Adams’ prediction was a few days off, he was spot on about how it would be observed by Americans for the next 244 years and counting. 

If a show is in your plans, pack the cooler and load the camp chairs in the trunk. With restrictions on gatherings continuing to relax, here’s what’s happening in Great Bend and around the area this weekend. (Keep in mind the Centers for Disease Control still recommends the use of masks and social distancing at mass gatherings, and Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said she’ll sign an executive order to that effect on Thursday.) 

Great Bend will celebrate Independence Day early with a public fireworks display at the Great Bend Expo Center at dusk on Friday, July 3. Gates at the Expo will open at 7:30 p.m., and a patriotic program will be aired by 100.7 FM beginning at 8:30 p.m. Between 9:45 and 10 p.m., the fireworks will begin. 

Individuals may discharge fireworks within the city limits from 10 a.m. to midnight on July 4 only. According to city ordinance, only Class C fireworks can be sold and discharged within the City of Great Bend. All other classes require a special permit. Bottle rockets and M80s, while popular, are dangerous and illegal in the State of Kansas. 

• In Ellinwood, the city is sponsoring a fireworks display at dusk on Saturday, July 4, at the football field as in years past. It is open to the public with seating in the bleachers. In case of rain, the display will happen on Sunday, July 5. 

Within the city, fireworks may only be discharged on Saturday, July 4, Ellinwood City Manager Chris Komarek said. 

• Around the rest of the Barton County, the cities of Hoisington, Claflin and Pawnee Rock do not offer a public display. 

In Hoisington and Claflin, individuals may discharge fireworks only on Saturday, July 4; In Claflin, from 8 a.m. to midnight, and in Hoisington, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. In Pawnee Rock, however, the city code allows for fireworks to be discharged from 8 a.m. to midnight from June 28 through July 4. 

Since 2004, individual discharge of fireworks in the unincorporated areas of the county is only allowed on July 4, from 8 a.m. to midnight, and are not allowed to be discharged in any park. 

• In nearby Larned, in Pawnee County, there will be fireworks Saturday, July 4, at dusk at Jordaan Park, with music, a VFW color guard and American Legion riders before the show. Bahama Mamas Shaved Ice will also be available. The 4th of July celebration is being sponsored by the Larned Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, in partnership with the City of Larned. 

“We recommend that everyone takes the necessary precautions to keep themselves safe while enjoying the holiday,” Mayor William Nusser said. 

Jordaan Park is north of U.S. 56 and the Larned Municipal Golf Course. At Toles Road, go north past the Armory and the Community Center, to 18th Street, then turn right and follow Henry Jordan Drive around to the park. 

According to City Manager Brad Eilts, no fireworks shall be sold or fired until July 1 in that city. However, they may be discharged from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. beginning Wednesday, July 1 through Friday, July 3, and on Saturday, July 4, they may be discharged from 8 a.m. to midnight.