||Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Laser light show tops list of 2012 changes to Hoover's Hometown Days
by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · August 03, 2012
The parade route changed, the number of rides will double and a laser light show will fill the sky this weekend to celebrate the city and the 50th anniversary of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum.
The event runs Aug. 3-4 in downtown West Branch and the Hoover Complex.
Laser light show
The biggest addition to the 2012 Hoover’s Hometown Days is the laser light show.
The City of West Branch took on the $25,000 expense of paying for fireworks this year (this special section was printed early, so a decision on whether dry conditions would allow the fireworks to be shown had not yet been made). That allowed the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association the chance to hire a laser light show to further augment this year’s closing celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of the Library-Museum.
Due to the uncertainty of the fireworks, the Association devoted more funding toward the laser light show to make it a bigger performance.
Association Executive Director Becky Allgood said that, like the fireworks, the lasers will jump and dance synchronized to music, and there will be a 25x30-foot screen on the east lawn of the Library-Museum flashing patriotic images.
“It’s the golden anniversary,” Allgood said of the bigger celebration.
Music at the closing ceremony will include the Cedar Rapids Municipal Band, Tonic Sol-Fa and the Hoover High School Tornado band from Glendale, Calif.
Allgood said the Association is looking for families to host the high school band members, giving them a place to sleep at night and some meals — she said that practices, tours and other responsibilities will keep them busy each day — from about 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday morning.
Those wishing to host a band member may contact Delene or Pam at the Association at 643-5327. There are 65 band members, and the Association expects it will need 30 host families.
“We want to roll out the red carpet for them,” Allgood said, saying the students “had a lot of car washes and fundraisers” to get them here to learn about their namesake.
There are 63 schools in America named after the West Branch native, but only four of them are high schools, and Glendale is farthest away. The Tornados will also march in the parade.
Pete Swisher, superintendent of the Hoover National Historic Site, also first mentioned the laser light show when asked “What’s new?”
“The inclusion of the laser light show and trying to make people feel welcome to come up to the library and help us celebrate their anniversary,” he said.
Main Street West Branch took a cooperative role in planning the parade this year, Program Director Mackenzie Edwards-Krob said.
“And it sounds like we’re going to have some more exciting entries than we’ve ever had before,” she said. “It will build on last year.”
In past years, the parade has looped from the northwest part of town — like Pedersen Valley or Hoover Elementary — down to the intersection of Parkside Drive and Main Street, then turned back. This year, it will turn south at Parkside and head toward the entrance to the Library-Museum. (Look for the parade map elsewhere in this section.)
Parade entrants who wish to participate in the Celebration of Life Ceremony — which remembers Hoover — will turn into the library’s drive while others will continue on to Cedar Street.
“This is a great way to showcase that property,” Edwards-Krob said. “As years go by, the parade will continue and they’ll see the growth of that park. It’s a win-win.”
Swisher reiterated that not every float or group will enter the park, so he suggested against lining up chairs and blankets on the park driveway.
The idea to change the parade route came out of last year’s post-event meeting. The parade would take visiting dignitaries far away from the gravesite, which meant it took more time to get them into position for the service. This new approach puts them very close to the Celebration of Life ceremony, with the possible added benefit that parade watchers will find it more convenient to attend as well, he said. That is also where the Hoover birthday cake will be served.
“We hope there’s greater participation and less wait time,” Swisher said.
West Branch High School’s and North Cedar High School’s marching bands will also participate in both the parade and the gravesite ceremony, Allgood said.
City Administrator Matt Muckler said that donations — $4,100 from Acciona Windpower and $2,500 from the Historic Site — have doubled the amount of rides offered at the Village Green this year, causing them to spill onto Main Street north of the park.
And they are all free.
“We’re thankful for the support from Acciona and the National Park Service,” he said.
This year the rides go by names like “Jurassic Survivor,” “Screaming Slide,” “Mutiny on the Bouncer,” “Velcro Wall,” “Rock Climbing Wall,” “Dodgeball Defender,” “Lil Builders Toddler Zone,” “Tiger Bouncer” and “Eurobungee Jumper.”
The fireworks and free rides have garnered the most positive feedback from visitors in the past, he said, “so that’s what we’re focusing on.”
In addition to the three high school marching bands and the Cedar Rapids band, the Iowa Veterans Band will also join in, Allgood said.
Returning favorites include the Dale Thomas Band, performing at the Brick Arch Winery, and Swing Crew, performing at the West Branch Fire Department’s dinner.
“That’s always a really good turnout,” Muckler said of the dinner-Swing Crew combination.
Allgood said she has been trying to land Tonic Sol-Fa for years, but the Grammy-winning group is so much in demand that this was the first opportunity that worked out.
Hoover’s Hometown Days participants will also get to hear the Black Hawk Pipes and Drums — an entire band of bagpipes and various drums, Allgood said.
Hooverball will, of course, return (see story in the Sports pages) for the annual championship. The event draws contestants from all over the state and, on occasion, from out of the state.
Allgood wanted to draw attention to a group of Minnesota high school students who have been learning about Hoover in their Advanced Placement history class, including about Hooverball. Since this is the 25th anniversary of the Hooverball national championships, the students have formed a couple of teams to compete.
Allgood said she expects to teams coming from Texas, too.
Celebration of Life
Allgood said this year’s Celebration of Life Ceremony, which starts at 11:45 a.m., to mark Hoover’s legacy, will include U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa City) as the keynote speaker. Others speaking:
• Jim Gardner, Executive for Legislative Archives, Presidential Libraries, and Museum Services
• Brig. Gen. Janet Phipps will read a letter from President Obama.
• Gary Metivier, anchor for KWQC Channel 6 in the Quad Cities, will serve as the Master of Ceremonies
Edwards-Krob said she is looking forward to this weekend event.
“I encourage people to go into the park, see the laser light show, listen to the music and embrace the different changes that have happened,” she said.
The 50th anniversary of the Hoover Library-Museum, coupled with all of the Hoover’s Hometown Days events, will show the partnership between the city, MSWB and the Hoover Complex, as well as many other contributing organizations, Edwards-Krob said, “that have taken several years to grow.”
“Even though this is the 50th year (of the Library-Museum) they get that this is about the community, also,” she said.
Many volunteers have pitched in to help the event come off, Edwards-Krob said, and both Edwards-Krob and Allgood agree that many of the activities would be impossible without them.
Some of those other details: Heat and distance. Members of the American Legion will host “hydration stations,” Swisher said, golf carts rides will help the elderly and disabled get from place to place, and many businesses will be open and allowing visitors to step inside too cool off.
“We’re really excited we’re going to have another very nice family event,” Swisher said. “We’re excited to see some of the favorite vendors, so many museums and historical exhibits — there are so many things to do and a lot of fun.”
He said that the Hoover Park and Library-Museum have a long working relationship, but the 50th anniversary of the Library-Museum have allowed them to do even more.
“I think you’ll see more cooperation and coordination between the two groups,” he said.