Fourth of July weekend in full swing with Freedom Festival events

Dock Dogs, parade and Imagination Square highlight holiday fun in Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids Washington High School cheerleaders walk across the 16th Avenue bridge from Czech Village to New Bohemia during the Freedom Festival Parade in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, July 2, 2016. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Washington High School cheerleaders walk across the 16th Avenue bridge from Czech Village to New Bohemia during the Freedom Festival Parade in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, July 2, 2016. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Saturday’s Freedom Festival events were like vacation for Michael Simeons — but he and his wife Jackie Simeons didn’t have to leave Cedar Rapids, their home for more than 60 years.

“Ironically when we go on vacation, we look for events like these,” Simeons said.

See Also: Fourth of July in Cedar Rapids: What you need to know to celebrate

Saturday’s Freedom Festival events included Dock Dogs at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, a parade, Hy-Vee’s Taste of Freedom, Imagination Square, Lego Extravaganza and many other activities for all age groups. Here’s a look at some of the action:

Parade — NewBo City Market

The Freedom Festival parade was full of entries from local businesses and organizations — most decked out in red, white and blue.

Megan Jones and Mario Jones brought their kids, 10-month-old Malakai Jones and 4-year-old Maleeyiah Jones, to watch the parade and enjoy the family activities in NewBo.

What was Maleeyiah Jones’s favorite part of the parade?

“The candy,” she said. The pink firetruck was a close second.

Hy-Vee’s Taste of Freedom — NewBo City Market

The Simeons both tried three sliders from Hy-Vee’s Taste of Freedom. The sliders ranged from salmon to pork and everything in between.

Michael Simeons gave them a thumbs up.

“Having the Farmers Market land on the same weekend as Freedom Festival was a real plus,” Jackie Simeons said. “We noticed a lot of out-of-town vehicles.”


One of those vehicles belonged to Jane Tenquist and Kevin Mahoney who brought their dogs Paddy and Finn from St. Louis to participate in Dock Dogs.

Dock Dogs — National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

Part of the Dock Dogs club in St. Louis, Tenquist and Mahoney brought Paddy and Finn to compete in Cedar Rapids.

Event volunteers said there were various competitions — some based on the distance dogs could jump, some based on height and some based on speed — all which involved dogs leaping into a large, aboveground pool.

“Finn is a natural,” Mahoney said. “Paddy, he talks a big game, but this is the first time he’s jumped twice in a row.”

“As long as the dogs have fun, that’s all that matters,” said Katie Lacy who brought her dog Eddie from Ames.

Hundreds gathered to look on or enter their dog in the competition. Nicole Potter and Derek Therrien of Cedar Rapids brought their dog, Scarlet, to the event.

“Anytime we can take her places we love it,” Potter said, as Therrien added it was their favorite Freedom Festival event.

IMAGINATION! Square — NewBo City Market

The family activities in NewBo City Market included a children’s train, food and a photo booth.


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“It’s very vibrant right now with all the people,” Dave Wallrichs of Robins said. His wife, Brenda Wallrichs added it showed the district has really developed and grown.

Charity organizations were also on hand to engage with the community. George Zinser was representing the Shriners and telling families about the work the organization does with hospitals in North America.

“We’re here showing people what we do — it’s great exposure,” he said.

Among all the activities going on, there were plenty of places for people to stop and relax. That’s what David Porter, who was with his wife Kathleen Porter and grandsons — 3-year-old Noah Porter and 1-year-old Elijah Porter — did after their debut in the parade with the Porter Moving Co. entry. The company is owned by the David and Kathleen Porter’s son.

“It’s not American if you don’t have a frank hot dog,” said David Porter as the four of them sat and ate before gearing up for more activities.

Freedom Festival activities continue through the fireworks display Monday evening. See the Freedom Festival schedule for more details at

“I wish everyone a happy Fourth of July,” said Porter. “America is a great place and we can’t take that for granted.”




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