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Amid misery of Midwest flooding, July 4 fireworks go on

By Michael Avok

YANKTON, South Dakota (Reuters) - The Missouri River is causing misery for many Midwest homeowners and motorists this summer.

But it could not stop July 4th celebrations along its route.

More than 100,000 people are expected this weekend in this town just five miles east of Gavins Point Dam, where a record amount of water is gushing out to relieve the rising tide from the winter snowmelt and recent rain.

Monday night's fireworks in Yankton will go on.

"There will be 25,000 people in Riverside Park for the fireworks," said Don Edwards, owner of Murdos Aten Resort, a popular riverside restaurant near Yankton.

Huge water releases from the dam have increased the river level to just two feet below the base of the wooden deck of Edwards' outdoor eating area. The deck is closed for now for safety reasons.

"We don't think it's going to get any higher," he said, as the river rushed by.

That was good news in Yankton, where workers at First National Bank were upbeat Friday afternoon knowing the fireworks display is on.

"At least it's something normal happening this summer," one woman said.

Thousands gather along the river near downtown for the city's fireworks display every year. Fireworks are set up on the Nebraska side of the river and shot toward Yankton's park.

Officials tested the ground on the Nebraska side and found it would be safe to set things up. There are a couple areas in the park where residents are not allowed to go, but it appears there is plenty of room for "oohs and ahhs" on Monday night.

The same goes for many towns and cities along the river. Up north in Fort Pierre, South Dakota, the fireworks show will go on as scheduled, as will the fireworks display in Omaha.

Jesse Johnson, a 30-year-old beer distributor in Yankton, is hoping for big crowds. Sipping a beer at the Pure Ice Company, a local hangout where it is legal to have a beer while sitting in your parked car, Johnson said he is looking for a bump in sales.

"We've got 100,000 people coming through town here over the three days," he said, feet dangling over the side of the loading dock. "Now there are more people coming to see the dam."

"Ka-ching, Ka-ching," a bystander called out, mimicking a cash register sound as he ordered another beverage.

(Editing by Greg McCune)

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