Flooding didn’t stop thousands of Quad Citians from packing the riverfront Wednesday night for the annual Red, White and Boom celebration.
Some, like Birgitta McNeal, arrived as early as 4 p.m. in Rock Island’s Schwiebert Park to claim spots. Her family and friends spent the afternoon enjoying the sprinklers, food, and live music. They planned to stay late as well, in an effort to avoid extra traffic tie-ups.
“We’ll probably hang out before we try to leave, let the traffic die down. But the bridges are pretty crazy and hectic right now,” said McNeal.
At 9 a.m., Centennial Bridge was reduced to one lane each way as crews prepared the last-minute launch site. High waters on the Mississippi prevented crews from launching the fireworks from a barge as they had originally planned.
“We’ve rolled with a few, this one had a few more punches than we expected. But it’s really working out well; we’re excited about what’s coming up for the evening,” said Parks and Recreation director William Nelson.
Flooding also forced the Davenport festivities from LeClaire Park to downtown. The change prompted many to arrive earlier than usual in Rock Island, anticipating extra-large crowds.
“We’re here earlier this year, because we knew more people would probably be here because of Davenport,” said Pam Yakovich.
But despite extra traffic and large crowds, many said the hassles were worth it for the 18-minute fireworks show.
“I like them… they’re magical,” said Makailee Aloian.