Fireworks will still light up the night sky, but there will be a few changes to the Ottawa community’s 2019 Independence Day celebrations.

“We were really looking to make the Fourth of the July celebration not just an evening of fireworks,” said Tiffany Evans. “We really want to bring the whole community out to spend the day together, and have different activities for them to enjoy throughout the day.”

Evans is chair of an Ottawa Chamber of Commerce committee charged with planning the community’s Independence Day celebrations. Earlier this year, the City of Ottawa approached the Chamber to form a partnership and provide the celebrations, as explained by John Coen, Chamber president, in the organization’s newsletter.

“The City of Ottawa approached the Chamber requesting a partnership going forward to provide our community’s local Independence Day Celebration beginning next July 4th,” Coen said. “Rex Carswell and friends have stood tall in organizing the local fireworks display the last (at least) 10 years. Rex and his group are ready to pass it on…he has agreed to serve on our Chamber Committee to help get us headed in the right direction the first year or two.”

According to Chamber officials, the celebration will take inspiration from the Chautauqua celebrations hosted in Ottawa by the town’s Junior Chamber members during the 1960s and through the 1990s.

“Those events were also day-long activities, and the whole community came together for a day to celebrate,” Evans said.

Those events took inspiration from an even older happening, the Chautauquas of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The movement was geared toward entertainment and adult education, and often lasted for months at a time.

According to Evans, the Independence Day celebrations in 2019 will feature an open pool, the City Band’s patriotic concert, a street dance with live music, and of course, a fireworks display to cap off the night.

“The committee has already started on planning the day’s events,” Evans said. “The city of Ottawa has contributed their portion to the cause, and we just started our fundraising to the community.”

Anyone wanting to contribute to the celebration can contact the Chamber at (785) 242-1000