For decades, tens of thousands of people have gathered in downtown Clear Lake to celebrate the Fourth of July.

And this year, the annual celebration, organized by the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce and implemented by volunteers, will begin Wednesday and conclude Sunday with plenty of food, fun and festivities for the whole family.

“It has just been a tradition for families, even ones that have moved away,” said Alice Hanley, Fourth of July committee chair. “It’s making memories.”

For those looking to partake in the festivities, here are 10 things you won’t want to miss:

1. The parade

The Clear Lake Fourth of July parade begins at 10 a.m. Thursday on the 2000 block of Main Avenue. The nearly 1.5-mile route continues west on Main Avenue, and then south on South Third Street, east on First Avenue North before ending at the intersection of South Fourth and South Eighth streets. The parade features more than 90 units, including businesses, organizations, politicians and musicians.


The Clear Lake High School Marching Band marches in the Clear Lake Fourth of July Parade.

2. The fireworks

The nearly 30-minute fireworks display, provided by Flashing Thunder Fireworks Spectacular, will begin at 10 p.m. Thursday over Clear Lake. There will be musical tribute on radio stations 106.1 FM, AM 1490 and AM 1300.

Clear Lake fireworks

Fourth of July fireworks finale, Clear Lake

3. The carnival

The Evans United Shows Carnival is returning to Clear Lake for the 46th year with its “good, clean, family-friendly” carnival featuring rides and games for everyone. The carnival will open at 5 p.m. Wednesday and noon Thursday through Sunday. Friday and Sunday are wristband days from noon-5 p.m.

Clear Lake Carnival

Evans United Shows worker Jeremy Duckett, of Joplin, Mo., sets up The Fireball at Clear Lake City Park on Tuesday. Clear Lake's premiere summer festival opens Thursday and continues through Sunday, with midway, amusement rides, bingo, an open-air craft show, live music nightly in the band shell, a traditional Independence Day parade down Main Avenue, and the fireworks display over the lake on July Fourth.

4. Live entertainment

The five-day event will feature daily live entertainment. Highway 9 will perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday; the Clear Lake Municipal Band will play from 8:30-10 p.m. Thursday; and the Arch Allies, a regional favorite, will perform at 7 p.m. Friday. New this year is a performance from The Trip, a nationally known live cover rock band, will play at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Clear Lake Band

The Clear Lake Municipal Band performs in an August 2014 concert.

5. Arts and crafts fair

The outdoor arts and crafts fair near City Beach features a variety of goods. It’ll be open from 5-9 p.m. Wednesday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

6. Food

Food vendors abound during the Clear Lake Fourth of July celebration. Corn dogs, cheese curds, deep-fried pickles, pork tenderloins and hamburgers are just a few of the things people will be able to sink their teeth into.

7. Downtown businesses

Clear Lake’s vibrant downtown, featuring a variety of retail, dining and arts and entertainment opportunities within walking distance of the city’s beach, park and lake, will be on full display, and business owners are prepared for the influx in visitors.

Thursdays Main 3

People flood downtown Clear Lake during Thursdays on Main in Clear Lake.

8. Grand marshals

Larry and Kay Day, founders and organizers of the annual Color of the Wind kite festival held in Clear Lake in February, have been named the 2019 grand marshals of the Fourth of July parade. The kite festival, in its 18th year, is a colorful celebration that’s attracted the attention of thousands.

Clear Lake

Annual tourism impact: $68 million in visitor spending.

Available hotel rooms: 447

Must-see sites: The Surf Ballroom, Clear Lake, Lake Theater, Iowa Trolley Park Railroad Museum, Lady of the Lake, Buddy Holly Crash Site, Clear Lake Arts Center, Clear Lake Fire Museum and more.

Top annual events: Color the Wind Kite Festival, Winter Dance Party, Fourth of July, and Blues, Bikes and BBQ.

9. Family Fun Day

Sunday is Family Fun Day, and there will be plenty for families to enjoy. The bingo tent opens at noon, and at 1 p.m. families will have the opportunity to compete—or watch others—in Family Feud. Activities, like old-fashioned relays and egg toss, will begin at 3 p.m. At 7 p.m., StraitRun, a family band from Vinton, Iowa will play.

10. Family and friends

Being that the Fourth of July celebration is a longtime tradition in Clear Lake, residents and visitors are bound to see someone they know, whether they be family or friends. The event serves as a backdrop for reunions, get-togethers and outings.


Thousands attend the Clear Lake Fourth of July Parade each year. 

For more information about the Clear Lake Fourth of July festivities, visit www.clearlakeiowa.com or the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.

Photos: Clear Lake Fourth of July parade 2017

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Reach Reporter Ashley Stewart at 641-421-0533. Follow her on Twitter at GGastewart.


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