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Appleton holds fireworks show with scaled back amenities

The event had been hosted by the Appleton Jaycees for nine decades before the city took over responsibilities.
Posted at 11:49 PM, Jul 03, 2024

APPLETON (NBC 26) — Independence Day is tomorrow, but one of Appleton's largest fireworks shows currently just wrapped up a day early.

  • Appleton celebrated July 4th early with their annual show sponsored by Festival Foods
  • Thousands still turned up to Memorial Park despite negative reactions to scaled back amenities
  • Appleton ran the event for the first time, this year without food trucks, live music and no alcohol

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story, with additional details for the web)

Levi Ott is here with his sister and family for this year’s show.

“We have a lot of freedom and I think that it’s taken for granted a lot," said Ott.

Other families arrived as early as 11:30 this morning. However, nothing was scheduled to take place …. until 9:45 p.m.

That’s because this year's event was significantly scaled back compared to years past.

Viewers might remember back in may, we reported that the event's previous organizers, The Appleton Jaycees—who had spearheaded the festivities for over 90 years—chose to step away from running the event citing low volunteer numbers.

The City of Appleton Department of Parks & Recreation then took over, but also chose to remove amenities like food trucks and musical acts and prohibited alcohol at the event. Even parking, which was once free, was now $10.

Despite the latter going towards the Appleton Police Explorers Post 9925, the overall decision was met with some controversy online, as well as from families I spoke to around memorial park.

But not for Levi Ott, who says July 4th is about more than just the fireworks.

“Play Spikeball," he joked. "No, but don’t take your independence for granted. Remember what this day is all about.”

City of Appleton Department of Parks & Recreation Director Dean Gazza says they have not ruled out bringing these things back in the future, so we’ll have to wait until next year to see.

For more July 4th fun in your neighborhood, we’ve got you covered on our home page.