CLEAR LAKE, Iowa – Independence Day may be over, but holiday celebrations are continuing across our area this weekend.
One north Iowa town known for it’s Fourth of July festivities is drawing in record crowds.
Clear Lake is always a hot spot this time of year, but if you think the crowds are bigger this year, you’d be right.
We spent the afternoon at the 4th of July carnival where folks are gathering by the thousands and giving a much needed boost to local businesses
When you think about the Fourth of July weekend in our area, Clear Lake usually comes to mind. And even though the parade and fireworks have come and gone there’s still plenty to do.
Mark Heggen is spending his afternoon visiting in the town he grew up in.
“When I was a kid, we came up here every 4th of July cause it was always the greatest,” he says.
This weekend, Mark is attracting some attention, that’s because he’s going around the carnival taking pictures of this Godzilla toy his kids call “Suggly.”
“My kids in California used to have one just like him that I made the mistake of donating, so now I’ve got a replacement,” Heggen explains.
It may look puzzling to some, including myself, but when you find out why he’s doing it; taking photos of “Suggly” watching the parade, or standing in line for carnival rides, may not seem so strange.
“I thought that they didn’t care about this toy anymore and it turns out that they still did. I thought rather than just buy a replacement, why not do something a little more fun and make it a concept thing. Have it be like he’s been out adventuring, and maybe there will be less blame on me,” adds Heggen.
Regardless of why people are in Clear Lake, the point is they’re here, which means a huge boost for the local economy.
Between the parade, fireworks and carnival, Chamber officials are estimating that 100,000 people are visiting Clear Lake this weekend.
“The crowds have been the biggest that I have seen in years,” says Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Tim Coffey.
And those crowds translate into a ten million dollar economic impact for local retailers.
“If it wasn’t for this weekend, our downtown wouldn’t be anywhere what it is and the community wouldn’t either. This is the core of all our events, of much of our retail and it’s vitally important to Clear Lake,” explains Coffey.
It’s events like this that keep people like Mark coming back year after year.
“I still come here every year on the 4th. The fireworks are the absolute best anywhere, better than anything in California and it’s just the most fun place to be for the 4th.” adds Heggen.
He plans to compile all the photos he took and send them, along with “Sugly” to his kids in California as a surprise.