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Celebrating, Independently: 4th Fest’s neighborhood fireworks shows will allow the community to enjoy the holiday without the big crowds

by on June 30, 2020 1:57 PM

Organizers of the Central PA 4th Fest are bringing community members together in celebration of Independence Day this year – while keeping them apart.

The 4th Fest had planned to take its celebration to a “whole new level,” with even more impressive entertainment and grander fireworks, before the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to that.

But after deciding in April – in the interest of public safety – to cancel the big Fourth of July extravaganza that typically takes place downtown and on the Penn State campus, the “wheels started turning” for board members, Executive Director Frank Savino says.

“Someone suggested, ‘What if we brought the fireworks to the people and had multiple shows? What would that look like?’” Savino says.

We’re about to find out.

On Independence Day, 4th Fest will launch fireworks shows simultaneously in four neighborhoods around State College. The idea is to give people a chance to see the shows while staying close to home and avoiding large gatherings.

“Now, can everyone see them in the backyard? No, but with a little effort, you’re gonna have a chance to see them,” Savino says.

The four shows will be visible from the neighborhoods around North Atherton Street (such as the Colonnade and Home Depot shopping areas), South Atherton Street (including near Hills Plaza and the Mt. Nittany Middle School), the Nittany Mall-Walmart shopping area, and the Science Park corridor.

“All of the shells are going to be larger shells that go straight up in the air,” Savino says. “They'll be anywhere from 600 to 800 to 1,000 feet,” giving residents a chance to see them without needing to be too close.

The four free shows will begin about 9:30 p.m. on July 4th and last about 15 minutes. The shows will be accompanied by choreographed music broadcast on four Forever Media radio stations – Big Froggy 101.1, 99.5 The Bus, Majic 93.7, and Happy 103.1.

The broadcast will begin prior to the fireworks and will also include interviews, the National Anthem, and a sing-along featuring “God Bless America.”

Starfire Corporation of Carrolltown will set off the pyrotechnics with shells from shows that were canceled elsewhere in the country.

4th Fest is among the events that are typically staples of summer in central Pennsylvania that this year are trying to make the best of a difficult situation.

The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, which was to take place downtown July 9-12, will now host a virtual event.

And while August’s Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair was also canceled because of the pandemic, campers can still enjoy spending time with family and friends at the park this summer. Beginning in June, the spacious facility opened as a campground, called Getaway at Grange Park.

For 4th Fest organizers, the fireworks are about saying thank you to the community while celebrating the nation’s independence.

“The community has been supporting us for well over 20 years – 20 years as 4th Fest and beyond that,” Savino says. “And so we've been saving up for a rainy day and we looked and said, ‘Hey this is the rainy day and let's use our own funds to pay for the show and bring it to the community to kind of pay it forward.’”


Check or the organization’s social media pages for updates, including photos and video of a virtual Fourth of July parade. Information on a rain date that weekend, if necessary, will also be available there.

Mark Brackenbury is editorial director of Town&Gown.




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