Armstrong steps up to save Fourth

ARMSTRONG – The citizens of Armstrong know when they have a good thing.

So when the Armstrong Betterment Club put out the call that it was desperate for volunteers to help with the Fourth of July celebration, people quickly responded.

“It’s been fantastic,” said the club’s Vickie Rooney. “The last two meetings have had great turnout; there is a lot of community involvement, and committees are getting their own volunteers … We put it right to the meat of things: we told them if we didn’t receive help, then a lot of things were going to be let go.”

The celebration is the largest in the area, with events throughout the day, including a large parade that brings in lots of visitors. The entire city park is filled with food vendors, kiddie games and attractions. Entertainment ranges from box car derbies to car shows, musical performances and sporting events.

Each year, the event tries to add something new.

“This year on Friday night, we’re holding a dance and motorcycle raffle,” Rooney said. “Dr. (Greg) Oleson has given us his motorcycle to raffle off. I can’t remember what year it is, but there’s very few miles and he said it was just sitting in his garage, so when he heard we were struggling, he decided to donate it to us.”

Another event to debut this year is a softball tournament. The inflatable bouncers also will be back.

“Helen Blomstrom went out and started getting money for it without even being asked,” Rooney said. “The inflatables are expensive, and we will have to pay some, but it’s close to being paid for with what was raised.”

Other things the club hopes to provide include the National Guard climbing wall and jousting pit, and performances by the North Union High School drum corps and choir.

“We have calls out, but nothing has been confirmed,” Rooney said.

Even though the Fourth of July is three months away, there is still lots of planning to be done.

“We can always use more volunteers,” Rooney said. “We have the VFW guys, but we need them to train some of the younger ones.”

There is also the fundraising side of things.

“One thing we thought was neat was the Armstrong Class of ’73 issued a challenge to other classes who are celebrating this year,” Rooney said. “They donated $100 to the ABC and challenged other classes to do the same … It’s awesome the way the community has stepped forward. That’s one of the good things about being in a small town: you just gotta ask, and people will help out.”

For more information on volunteering or donations, call Rooney at (712) 868-3681 or ABC president Phil Henricksen at (712) 866-2557.