WAVERLY – The annual Waverly street dance may never hit its 40th year.
After the Waverly Community Foundation’s event being cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, it was once again cancelled this year. The foundation’s Board President Josh Penas said initially the cancellation was related to COVID-19, but ultimately came down to lack of community and volunteer support.
“It’s the tradition part of it that is holding it together,” Penas said. “All by a thread.”
The foundation delayed the planning process until the end of May because of the different requirements they were given by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services related to sanitization, social distancing and other precautions. Instead of picking up the planning process, the foundation announced its postponement of the event in a post on May 27.
“Unfortunately the WCF board has come to the decision that the 2021 Waverly Street dance will not take place,” the post said. “We look forward to 2022 when we can all get back together and have a great time!!”
The street dance is always held on July 3 and has been around since the Waverly Jaycees established it in 1980. Lemon Fresh Day was scheduled to perform this year the evening before the Fourth of July. The Omaha band was also scheduled to perform last year until the foundation opted to cancel the dance almost exactly a year ago.
Penas said the foundation was planning on offering one free beer to anyone with a Waverly address above the age of 21 to coincide with their slogan “2020 was a rough year so come have a beer.”
In the last few years prior to the pandemic, Penas said the event would bring in around 2,000 people to the Waverly Plaza, while 10 years ago about 6,000 people gathered for the beer garden and music. Waverly even held the record for the largest street dance in Nebraska for a few years too.
The foundation and volunteers spend the entire day preparing the plaza for the dance and often are working well into the morning of July Fourth after the dance ensuring the parking lot is cleared for regular business at the plaza the next morning, Penas said.
“You’re probably looking at 24 to 30 hours of manpower to do this event, without any break,” Penas said. “That’s a big commitment.”
Most of the time, Penas said he and other volunteers also help with the parade and fireworks put on by the Waverly Chamber of Commerce the next day as well. This year, the chamber will host the parade at 1 p.m. and fireworks will start at dusk on the fourth.
If interested in participating in the parade, City Administrator Stephanie Fisher said during a recent city council meeting one can either call the city office ahead of time or arrive at Waverly Intermediate School parking lot prior to 1 p.m. where floats will be lined up.
Horizon Bank will also be hosting a money dive at the pool in Wayne Park at 3 p.m. that day. The Waverly Fest schedule will be in The Waverly News in the July 1 edition.
As for the future of the 39-year-old tradition becoming a 40-year-old tradition, Penas said it would be contingent on a few factors.
“It probably depends on the support we get with both the community and volunteers and people on the (foundation) board,” he said. “I absolutely don’t want a tradition to fall like that.”