Fascinating Facts About the Seward Fourth of July Celebration
- Since 1868, the Seward Community has honored and celebrated the anniversary of our United States. The first celebration was celebrated on the same town square, as today. They men “dug a well and the women sewed an American Flag. Speeches were given and a celebration was created!” This celebration was a high light of the City of Seward Centennial in 1967 and in 1976, Seward hosted the official July fourth for Nebraska’s Bicentennial celebration of the United States.
- Revitalized in 1969 by the community, under youth leadership, the celebration committee represents over 50 community groups and organizations that come together and present a unified, family friendly event.
- This famous annual celebration was awarded the 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1978 George Washington Honor Certificate by the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge; the 1977 and 1995 George Washington Honor Medal from the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge, the 1975 Ak-Sar-Ben Good Neighbor Award and the 1979 Merit Citation from the Nebraska Travel and Tourism Division. In 1976 Seward was declared the official site for the Nebraska Bicentennial July 4 celebration by the Nebraska USA Bicentennial Commission. In 1979 Seward was designated “America’s Official Fourth of July City-Small Town USA” by resolution of Congress. Seward has also been proclaimed Nebraska’s Official Fourth of July City” by Governor James Exon in proclamation. Seward’s annual Fourth of July Celebration has recently been selected by the Nebraska Division of Travel and Tourism as the “Outstanding Community Event in Nebraska” three years in a row, 2005, 2006 and 2007! The “three peat” of this honor is a record by the Nebraska Division of Travel and Tourism. Seward has received the award seven times to date.
- The annual apple pie eating contest and bubble gum contests were established by the Seward Rotary Club in 1971 and still popular today. During the 1970s the committee also sponsored hot dog eating contests and greased pole climbing, but dropped both due to requests from parents.
- National coverage of the event has been carried by all three major television networks and many cable projects. United Press International (UPI) has featured the Seward Fourth of July many times over the years.
- The world’s largest Time Capsule, dedicated in 1975 on July 4, holds thousands of articles, ranging from a new 1975 automobile to tee shirts! The time capsule is to be opened in 2025.
- The annual community festival attracts up to 40,000 individuals annually, according to a survey conducted by the Department of Economic Development in the 1980s.
- Since 1969, the celebration leadership has been directed by local youth of high school and college age. The committee continues to involve youth and meets the third Thursday of the Month at the high school over the noon hour, so students can attend.
- The celebration incorporated in 1980. It is composed of representatives of local, civic groups, high school organizations, businesses, religious organizations and individuals meeting monthly with the youth of the community to coordinate the annual celebration.
- A large, decorated birthday cake and decorated cupcakes have been baked at the local Seward Bakery and decorated for the US Birthday Party in Seward. The cake is sponsored by the Seward County Visitors Committee and hosted by the SHS FCCLA.
- Local royalty, (area grade students Grades K-4) are selected by the Seward Rotary Club as “Miss Independence and Mr. Firecracker” with an essay on “Why I Like to Live in Seward”!
- A special, volunteer “Tourist Family” is kidnapped each year by the Committee and the SHS FBLA. Since 1967 this practice has evolved from stopping the tourists with the State Patrol on I-80 to now stopping them as they travel through Seward.
- The US President and his wife have been invited every year and have yet to attend. Guest for the day sign a guest book and we usually have at least 35 states and about 10 countries represented in the guest book at the information center.
An annual theme revolves around “family entertainment—with an old fashioned Fourth of July Celebration” as the committee’s goal.
- Always “Spend the Fourth in Seward-Nebraska’s Official Fourth of July City!”