Rend Lake firework display ready to blast-off

Rend Lake firework display ready to blast-off
By: Carly O'Keefe
One Heartland July Fourth holiday tradition is going through some changes, mainly in who's running the show.
Saturday afternoon, vendors set up shop at Rend Lake just as they have every Fourth of July weekend for years.
"For the last several years, the Taste of Freedom they had music, they had family things, games, food, it was a festival," said Army Corps. of Engineers Park Ranger Tim Bischoff.
The festival almost didn't happen this year. The Taste of Freedom Festival faced financial hardship last year when one of the more substantial donors backed out.
"We ran into the problem of we didn't have anyone to put on the program here, and we thought it was really good for the community to have this program over the holiday," said Bischoff.
That was when the Army Corps of Engineers reached out to surrounding communities, in hopes of continuing the tradition of Fourth of July fireworks and festivities at Rend Lake
"Benton, West City, Christopher and Sesser all stepped up to the plate and said we think it's a good thing and we want to support it," said Bischoff.
"We have a great group of volunteers," said Benton-West City Chamber of commerce and Fireworks Committee member Gloria Atchison. "Some from the old fireworks committee stepped in and helped out and we've had community support. Everybody just seems to want to make this work."
Area Chambers of Commerce, local businesses and city governments helped out with either manpower or financial resources.
"In the past it'd been so nice, and we hated to see that go away," said Atchison.
New events in 2006 like a duck race aim to keep fireworks at rend lake going for many years to come. Proceeds from the duck race and a requested $5 donation will be pooled to fund an even bigger and better fireworks display for July 4, 2007.
"I think the tradition will go on hopefully people who have kids here will some day in the future will be able to bring their kids to the same event," said Bischoff.