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Keokuk kicks off Bald Eagle Appreciation Days with pandemic precautions

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KEOKUK (WGEM) -- Tourists flocked to Keokuk on Saturday as the city kicked off their 39th annual Bald Eagle Appreciation Days.

While all the usual indoor events were cancelled due to COVID-19 precautions, people from all over still made the journey.

Sylvia Janowski said her family traveled from Iowa City to see the eagles fly and nest in trees along the Mississippi River.

"I thought it would be fun for the kids," she said. "We're from Chicago. We don't see any bald eagles. So, I thought it would be fun to come out and just walk along the river and hopefully spot some."

Her husband Adam said this was their first time attending the event.

"We have zero eagle experience so just getting to see them fly and see how huge they are, it's such a graceful bird. I've never seen anything like it," he said.

Lee County Conservation Board Naturalist, Clay Steele said the event was all out doors this year because of the pandemic.

"The eagles don't care," he said. "It's all about the ice and the weather. I knew the eagles would be out here, so I wanted to go ahead and have this part of it."

Reports show lasts year's event brought in nearly four to five thousand people from all over, driving up sales for the local economy.

Steele said that won't be the case this year.

"It's definitely going to hurt the numbers," he said. "I've still seen people come in. I had a family come down from Davenport and another came in from four hours south in Missouri."

Lee County Conservation officials say the event will continue on Sunday starting at 9:00 a.m. and going until 1:00 p.m. at Victory Park.

You can view livestreams of the event and online educational events here.

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Blake Sammann

Blake Sammann is a reporter and weekend anchor at WGEM News.

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