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Annual 4th Fest a Jewel of State College Community

by on July 04, 2012 6:31 AM

For thousands of visitors to Happy Valley, this year’s Central Pa. 4th Fest will feature plenty of events, food, entertainment and of course, fireworks, with the support of more than 500 volunteers and 200 sponsors.

This year’s events will kick off with the 11th annual Firecracker 4K at 9 a.m. and conclude at 9:15 p.m. with the event’s most popular attraction by far, fireworks.

Recently voted as the third largest, biggest and best Fourth of July fireworks show in the United States by “Fireworks Guide,” an international fireworks website, the hour-long show is choreographed to music.

According to Bernie Keisling, executive director of 4th Fest, musical selections for the show are “always new each year” and will include songs that haven’t been used previously.

Becky Clapper lives an hour outside of State College but says she would drive hours to see the annual fireworks show.

“It’s the most amazing fireworks display I have ever seen,” she said. “The grand finale gives me chills every time. It’s always fun to go with someone who has never seen them and watch the expression on their face when they keep thinking the end of the show is coming, but instead it keeps going on and on.”

While live music, carnival food, patriotic-themed vendors and free admission are favorites for most people attending the festivities on July 4, the 4th Fest board is also continuing to add new features and traditions each year.

One of the new features will include an original B-25 bomber plane from WWII flying over the carnival area at 6, 7 and 8 p.m.

The “America’s Got Heroes” Parade of Heroes will also make its debut at 2 p.m. Heroes could be those who sacrificed while serving in the military, fighting fires or enforcing the law, those who volunteered through a scout group or other organization or those who showed outstanding or exceptional support as a family member or friend.

Keisling said the board had discussed a parade for years and once a theme of heroes was chosen, everything “dovetailed together.”

Nominations were collected online from the public in early June and those chosen from a 4th Fest committee will be contacted and honored by riding in antique cars throughout the entire parade route.

“We had a nice amount of nominations,” he said. “Now we’re working on meeting and choosing which ones will be in the parade.”

The parade will start in front of the State College Municipal Building on Allen Street and will eventually work its way to Penn State’s campus by way of Bigler Road.

Holly Yingst, a senior at Penn State, said that 4th Fest “brings back great childhood memories” and that she’s looking forward to the parade.

“I have family and friends in the military,” she said. “So it means the world to me the parade will give tribute to the people that give us the freedom we have every day.”

Here is a complete schedule of events, a map of the parade route and more information of 4th Fest.

Jocelyn Brumbaugh is a student at Penn State and an intern for covering local news and events.
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