Thursday, July 11, 2013

Small town 4th of July Celebrations

We left Kansas City after a whirlwind week of SkillsUSA activities. We wanted to slow down and ‘smell the roses’.  We thought about hurrying up to Gillette, WY, to see all our pals at the Escapee Escapade, but that was a very long trip, lots of diesel, plus $60/day to walk in the rally, We made our decision on the side of reason:  save money, save wear and tear on our bodies, and avoid the horrid thunderstorms up in Gillette.  We still really missed our friends, but know as full-time RV’ers we will be seeing them down the road.

We drove up US-29 as far as 136 and took the 2 lane back roads all the way to Stagecoach County Park. We stayed 2 days. While at Stagecoach we drove west to Crete, NE, for dinner. As we were walking into King Chinese Buffet we talked to a very nice couple asking them where we could find the best 4th of July celebration in Crete. Pam Schuerman, Wilber Care Center Activities Director and her husband, Bill, said that first we should consider parking at the American Legion Park in Wilber. Then on Wednesday, July 3rd, come to the Care Center for a free picnic, games, and fireworks, Then on July 4th, we should drive about 35 miles north to Seward, Nebraska’s 4th of July Capitol.  Seward hosts so many activities the only way they could list them is by using a 7 pt. font and both sides of a poster.  Pam then suggested traveling 7 miles south of Wilber on Saturday to join the folks of Dewitt, NE, for their full day of celebrating. This was small town Mid-America patriotism at its best.  Wilber, population 1875, is the Czech capitol of the U.S.  This little town grows to about 20,000 the first week in August when Czech Days are celebrated.


We packed up on Tuesday, July 2, and drove the 20-some miles from Stagecoach to Wilber. One surprise we encountered on our short drive was a roadside sign stating that the litter control of that portion of roadway was sponsored by the Norris HS SkillsUSA/VICA Chapter. Cool!


We were one of 3 other rigs parked at the American Legion Park just south of Wilber. It is a great park that has about 40-50 sites, 30/50 amp with water and a very clean dump station at the north end of the park. Photo of New York-style strawberry kolache.

We drove the 6 blocks to the main street of town and found a Czech Bakery. They were about to pull Klatches out of the oven in about 45 minutes.


We ordered an assortment of 12 and visited the Czech Museum one block away.


About 5 p.m. we drove to the Care Center. There were delicious hot dogs, hamburgers, beans, potato salad, lemonade, watermelon and cantaloupe.

There was the fire department and rescue squad showing the kids (and there were lots of kids) how to put out a fire.

There was 2 llamas for the kids to pet and comb.


What would a picnic in the Czech Capitol have for music? A Polka Band of course.


As it got dark, the kids were playing ball, chasing lightning bugs, and we were enjoying popcorn, the fireworks started across the street, Hwy 103, behind the cornfield. Only in Nebraska.


On our way back to the park, we stopped by the newly dedicated Veteran's Memorial.

And this was just our first day celebrating Independence Day!

Seward’s Celebration

Our first actual 4th of July activity was the airshow at the Seward Airport. We were parked behind the Lincoln Channel 10/11 news photographer who came over before leaving to tell us about the Seward Celebration, where to park, and how to ride the shuttle.

There was entertainment, food (we shared a 2 pound turkey leg), car show, a stop at DQ, a huge parade, and a long walk to the park where the fireworks were shown.

The parade had everything, horses, tractors, fire engines, princesses, politicians, and more candy was thrown and collected by the kids than I have ever seen. They brought shopping bags to collect the candy. As we were at the very beginning of the parade we walked quickly to the shuttle stop and got on the first shuttle back to our car. The driver drove to the shuttle route which just so happened to also be the parade route and we found ourselves the last vehicle in the parade. I think those watching the parade were as confused as we were because we weren’t throwing candy.

Our Jeep was parked at the Elementary School and we drove a short 1/2 mile to the closest parking spot to the park and walked about a 1/4 mile to where we wanted to sit. We met an amazing couple on our trek to the hill overlooking the fireworks display area. They were interested in RV’ing upon retirement and we talked for a couple of hours. We exchanged business cards and I know we will see them somewhere in our travels. We meet the most friendly and interesting friends in our travels.

It took us over an hour to get out of the little town of Seward, population 6,946, although I think there was probably over 20,000 people in town on this holiday. We love our new Jeep with GPS built in and Sirius Radio. It really makes traveling to towns near where we are parked fun and safe. 

I will continue our visit to Dewitt in our next blog: the best fireworks, meeting more local Midwesterners, a car show and of course another parade.

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