In 1984 the thought for the first "Celebration of Freedom" fireworks display was presented to the Cedar Rapids City Council. That following year, the inaugural fireworks display was held on July 4th in the heart of downtown Cedar Rapids on May's Island. Over time, interest in the celebration grew and more events were organized to become part of the patriotic festivities.
Inundated with requests that required city services, the Cedar Rapids City Council suggested an organization be formed to oversee the Festival's operations. Thus, the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival was formed and incorporated with the state of Iowa in 1988 and accepted with the IRS as a 501(c)3 in 1993.
Initially, the organization's main function was to coordinate overall event planning and promotion. It established criteria for all event eligibility and acted as liaison between event sponsors and city departments. A representative from each event served on the Freedom Festival Council, chaired by our event coordinator. The Freedom Festival processed the "sanctioned event" (now called "affiliated events") applications for approval by the City Council and all city departments, and conducted a large marketing and public relations campaign. Festival staff continue to perform these functions for more than 80 separate and distinct events.
From 1988 to 1995, the Festival organization produced only a handful of its own events, specifically Opening Ceremonies, the "Tribute to Heroes" Luncheon, and FestaFun (held in Greene Square Park). As public demand grew and attendance increased, the Festival began to produce more events in-house, securing corporate sponsorships for each. Events grew to include concerts, Patriotic Pops Concert Night, Balloon Glow, Freedom Festival Parade, Imagination Square, Pancake Breakfast, Kid's Action Zone, activities on the 4th of July and the grand finale "Celebration of Freedom" fireworks.
Today, we can proudly say that we have been around for over 30 years! Thanks for all of the support and we look forward to another 30 years.
The Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation dedicated to serving Cedar Rapids and a significant portion of eastern Iowa.
Our mission is to celebrate the quality of life in Eastern Iowa by providing safe, affordable and fun annual events that embody the spirit of patriotism and a sense of community and family.