In 1984, KDTH and KAT FM approached the Dubuque Jaycees with a formidable plan to become the media partner for the Independence Day fireworks show, held annually at Veteran’s Park near Wahlert High School.
With the strong promotional support of the four radio stations now behind the event, the suggestion was made to move 1985’s festivities to the riverfront in order to accommodate a greater number of spectators.
Through the efforts of KDTH/KAT FM executive Perry Mason, one of the nation’s premier pyrotechnics firms was secured to shoot the Dubuque show. As good fortune would have it these professionals provide the finest fireworks display in the upper Midwest. Their experience has proven to be vitally important in the coordination, staging and musical accompaniment needed to make the show bigger and better every year.
In 1993 the radio stations added another element to the Jaycees Independence celebration: an air show. Every kind of aircraft from the B-1, B-2 and F-117 Stealth Fighter, to a Huey and a Chinook helicopter…to the F-15s, F-16s, A-10s and WWII P-51 Mustangs have been featured. In 2004, astronaut and noted pilot Frank Borman was even a part of the lineup. Obviously tri-staters enjoy the air show as much as the fireworks. In their flyovers, U.S. Air Force pilots estimate the crowd size to be in excess of 250,000 people.
That’s solid proof that Dubuque’s Independence Day Spectacular has evolved into the biggest community event in the tri-states. The radio support for this extravaganza has seen tremendous growth as well. KDTH/KAT FM partnered with KGRR in 2000 and introduced 101.1 The River in 2003. All 4 properties promote the event now dedicated annually to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, who help protect the freedom we enjoy.
The July 3rd celebration has gone from a 5-thousand dollar production in 1985 to well-over 100-thousand dollars. With no admission charge to offset the cost of staging this event, the only way the radio stations and the Jaycees have the ability to put on this show each year is through the financial support of good corporate citizens.