Central PA 4th Fest won’t be having its typical daylong Independence Day celebration for the second consecutive year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but organizers are already planning for a big comeback next year.
For this Fourth of July, 4th Fest has partnered with the State College Spikes for a fireworks show after the team’s 5:05 p.m. game against the Trenton Thunder at Medlar Field.
Fans with tickets for the game will be able to stay to view the fireworks, which 4th Fest Board of Directors President Kurt Weibel said will be more extravagant than a normal Spikes’ post-game fireworks show, but not quite at the scale of what has been rated among the biggest and best Fourth of July fireworks displays in the country.
“We are excited to combine the fun, affordable family entertainment of a Spikes game on the Fourth of July with the pomp and pageantry of the Central PA 4th Fest fireworks show,” Spikes General Manager Scott Walker said in a statement. “Along with our deer friends at 4th Fest, we are delighted to welcome fans from across Happy Valley for the return of the spectacular fireworks show that is a staple of our Independence Day celebration.”
As is usually the case, the show will be visible from other parts of the Centre Region. Medlar Field, however, will only be open to fans who attend the game and surrounding parking lots and fields will not be open for spectators and tailgating as occurs during normal years, Weibel said.
No other 4th Fest events, like the parade and morning 4k races, will take place this year.
“This year’s more difficult than last year,” Weibel said. “Last year there were definitive restrictions. This year restrictions are not definitive. That’s the challenge.”
Last summer, with COVID-19 still surging and events everywhere canceled, 4th Fest did not hold its big celebration but launched four simultaneous fireworks shows in different parts of the Centre Region that were visible from neighborhoods and scattered viewing locations.
This year, 4th Fest considered having two simultaneous displays launching from secured locations in Patton and College townships. But Weibel said that because of logistics and uncertainty with what COVID restrictions would be in place, that plan didn’t work out and a partnership with the Spikes allowed for the show to go on.
Beginning in 2022, Weibel expects Medlar Field to become the VIP viewing area for the the 4th Fest fireworks show.
“Going forward it looks like that’s going to be the VIP area, any Fourth of July, regardless if there’s a home game or not,” Weibel said. “The game would be earlier, people would leave and then we’d reintroduce the VIP seating for the Central PA 4th Fest.”
4th Fest organizers are hopeful the event will be back to its traditional format next year, with a full day of activities capped by the nation’s largest volunteer-run fireworks show.
Planning is already underway and Weibel said the organization hopes to make the return of 4th Fest something special.
“That is definitely the plan,” he said.