Janesvillians will have something to do July 4

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Samantha Jacquest
Wednesday, July 3, 2013

— Community members and local businesses have come to the rescue for Fourth of July celebrations in Janesville.

Because of Rock River flooding at Traxler Park, the Rock Aqua Jays last week postponed their Independence Day on the Rock, including fireworks, to Sept. 1.

Four days later, a Facebook page appeared, inviting Janesville residents to a potluck picnic to celebrate Independence Day.

"We're going to have an old-fashioned community picnic," said Adam Rutherford, an administrator for the Janesville Community Facebook page. "When we discovered the fireworks had been postponed, that motivated us to look for something that we could do for the community."

The picnic will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Palmer Park. It is a potluck, so community members are asked to bring a dish to pass, a non-alcoholic drink and a lawn chair.

People can participate in games for prizes including volleyball, dodge ball, egg toss and a three-legged race.

Rutherford said he was surprised by the businesses and community members that immediately started volunteering and donating supplies for the event.

Yuri Rashkin, who started the Janesville Community page two years ago, helped get the picnic started.

"We're getting a lot of businesses who are contributing who see this as a good idea," Rashkin said. "We're just kind of running with it and having some fun."

Rashkin said they were able to get the word out quickly because of the popularity of the Janesville Community Facebook page, which now has almost 2,200 fans. Organizers of the picnic have reached out to almost 900 people, although no one is sure how many will attend.

"We're hopefully providing something that people will take advantage of," Rashkin said. "Sometimes it feels like we don't know who our neighbors are, and this is an opportunity to get to know people from all over the city."

The picnic is being organized by those who volunteered through the Facebook page, Rutherford said.

"We're putting it together on a shoestring," Rutherford said.

Although the event is being pulled together on short notice, the response has been surprising, Rashkin said.

"People feel like this is the kind of event that is very much appreciated," Rashkin said. "I think businesses jumping in with both feet is another indication we're on the right track."

Rutherford helped with Janesville's fireworks shows in the 1990s, and although no fireworks display is planned for the picnic, Rutherford said he has an idea of what people want in a Fourth of July celebration.

"They want nice weather and to be able to sit back with a brat and watch their kids have fun," Rutherford said.

Last updated: 7:58 am Monday, July 29, 2013

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