WATERLOO --- The band played while vendors sold food and beer along Fourth Street.
But Charles Gallentine and his two children weren't paying any attention to all the activity. They had set up a chair and blanket on a ridge above the Cedar River, ready to watch Saturday's 10 p.m. fireworks show --- that was still hours away.
"We always try to get this spot," said Gallentine, of Waterloo, noting it provides a good view of the fireworks being shot off from the nearby Sixth Street bridge. "They come up over the trees," added his daughter, Loni.
The annual fireworks festival is put on by the Waterloo Jaycees. The festival closes Fourth Street from Commercial to Sycamore streets, where food and beer vendors set up. Bands performed from 6 p.m. to midnight, with a 25-minute break at 10 p.m. for the fireworks.
A Kids Zone was set up at Cedar and Fourth streets. Children got their hair sprayed in bright colors, made bubbles with wands and plastic pools full of sudsy liquid, or raced Matchbox cars down flexible tracks running from a table to the ground.
The colored hair spray was a big hit and could be seen on the heads of many children --- and some adults. "It's free to the kids and they love it," said Lisa King, owner of the Hair Biz salons in Waterloo, who was spraying the heads. "We've got red, white and blue, but we've also got other colors."
The Gallentines weren't the only people who staked out an early seat. A number of people had set up chairs along the south bank of the river by 6:30 p.m. Others bought food and beer or watched the first band of the evening, the Dennis Wayne Gang, on the stage in the parking lot at Fourth and Commercial streets. The crowd was still sparse when the band was winding down its set.
By the time darkness fell while second band Never the Less was playing, the parking lot had gotten much more crowded with fans dancing near the stage. Cars were streaming into downtown and groups of people were arriving at the festival area on foot.
"The fireworks is probably the big draw," said Carol Poppe, while sitting in a lawn chair in the parking lot and watching a band. "Plus, it's an opportunity to get out in the weather in the summer time."
She and her husband, Dick, always attend the festival and consider it a good social event for the season. "And if the music's good, that's always good." They were definitely looking forward to the fireworks, though.
"The fireworks the last couple years have been spectacular," she said.
Eric Jolley, his wife, and their 10-month-old and 4-year-old children attended the festival, but they didn't expect to stick around for the fireworks.
"With the earlier bedtimes, it's tough," said Jolley.
"We don't always come down for Friday'loo," he added, so they decided to make the trek downtown for this festival. It's "kind of the food and just kind of the celebration" that they enjoy.
Area residents have another chance for fireworks tonight. The Star Spangled Sky Fireworks Festival is planned by the Cedar Falls Jaycees at the UNI-Dome. It begins at 5 p.m. with children's inflatable games, activities and concessions.
Lotus will be the featured band, playing from 6 to 10 p.m. followed by the fireworks display. A flag ceremony will take place at 7:30 p.m. and the winner of the $2,500 cash raffle will be announced at 9:45 p.m. The Cedar Falls fireworks display will be synchronized to music on KCRR 97.7 FM.
WATERLOO - People are gathering downtown for the annual Waterloo Jaycees Fireworks Festival.
Bands are performing until midnight in the parking lot at West Fourth and Commercial streets, with a 10 p.m. break for a 25-minute fireworks show shot off from the Sixth Street bridge. As many as 20,000 people are expected for the festivities, but the crowd watching opening band, the Dennis Wayne Gang, was still sparse by 7:30 p.m.
Other festival-goers took children to the Kids Zone at Fourth and Cedar streets or bought food and beer from vendors. Fourth Street is blocked off between Commercial and Sycamore streets, a portion of it is lined with vendors. Children can get their hair sprayed in bright colors or make bubbles with wands and plastic pools full of sudsy liquid at the Kids Zone.
The band Never the Less is performing prior to the fireworks with Lotus taking the stage at 10:30 p.m. The fireworks display will be synchronized to music from KKHQ 92.3 FM.
Another fireworks festival is planned Sunday by the Cedar Falls Jaycees at the UNI-Dome. Lotus will be the featured band, playing from 6 to 10 p.m., followed by the fireworks display. A flag ceremony will take place at 7:30 p.m., and the winner of the $2,500 cash raffle will be announced at 9:45 p.m. The Cedar Falls fireworks display will be synchronized to music on KCRR 97.7 FM.