HINCKLEY – For Alyssa Reeter of Hinckley, the Fourth of July holiday is more than fireworks, barbecues and parades, it’s a way to celebrate Independence Day with her family and friends.
Reeter, a nurse, usually works on July 4, so she looks forward to the weekend before the holiday when she can spend time with her family.
Reeter and more than 30 of her family members and friends attended the Hinckley Fireworks Fest, held Saturday, June 29, at Hinckley-Big Rock High School’s field.
“We’ve been coming to see Hinckley’s Fourth of July fireworks pretty much my whole life, it’s become a family tradition,” Reeter said. “We live close by, so my family parks at the house, they walk over and we spend the evening together. We love that it’s before July 4, so our entire family can come. … It’s a great town-wide event, you can see how much work goes into it. It’s a good way to make memories, right here in town.”
The fest is organized by the nonprofit organization Hinckley Festival Association, which consists of four people: President Joan Umano, Vice President Nikki Beane, Secretary Pam Mackey and Treasurer Barry Morsch.
“Families and friends – the entire community – pulls together to put on the festival every year,” Umano said.
With good weather, the fest attracts a crowd of about 1,000 people each year.
“Our goal has always been to bring people together,” Umano said. “It’s also about bringing local organizations and businesses together, from the Lions Club, Junior Women’s Club, school district and Boy Scouts.”
This year’s event featured vendors, food trucks, bounce houses, pony rides, a car show and a musical performance by Whiskey Romance. The evening ends with a bang and a grand finale, a fireworks show by Flashing Thunder, based in Mitchell, Iowa.
“Fireworks started as a hobby that turned into a business venture,” said Anthony Rainiero, licensed firework display operator at Flashing Thunder. “I love the excitement, the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’, the yells and screams. A good fireworks show allows you to escape for 20 minutes or so. Putting on a show lets me be an entertainer in a sense.”
Hinckley Festival Association holds the event each year not only as a fun way to celebrate the Fourth of July with the community, but also as a way to give back financially to local groups. Each year, the association chooses one organization to receive half of the donations received at the gate. This year, money raised benefitted Hinckley Parks and Recreation. Last year, the Fox Valley Older Adult Services in Sandwich received half the donations.
David and Megan Gregg of Mendota, both graduates of H-BR High School, return to town for the fireworks Fest each year.
This year, they came with their children, 4-year-old Katie and 6-year-old Logan.
“We come back every year, it’s fun to see everyone from school,” David Gregg said. “It was a tradition when we were younger and now it’s become our family’s tradition.”
Umano said that as soon as the fest wraps up, the board starts planning for next year’s celebration.
“The fest is always held the last Saturday in June,” Umano said. “It’s a great opportunity to see your neighbors, spend some time with friends and family. It’s hometown, small-town fun.”