Nobody gets a bigger bang for their buck than the Central PA 4th Fest organizers.
Every year, volunteers spend weeks setting up thousands of firework shells choreographed to explode to music. Then, at the appointed hour, they launch intricate salvo after salvo to the delight of huge crowds gathered near Beaver Stadium and throughout the valley.
Even in the rain, as has been the case some years, the show dramatically caps a Fourth of July featuring the Firecracker 4K race and a carnival in and around the Bryce Jordan Center.
Among the countrys largest firework displays, it draws onlookers from afar, some returning to be dazzled time and again. For the sheer spectacle, and the fact that its all put together by volunteers, readers voted the 4th Fest celebration one of Centre Countys Seven Wonders.
Linda Findley flies in from Lake Charles, La., to visit her sister, Nancy Silvis, one of the lead coordinators. What an awesome musically choreographed fireworks extravaganza it is, Findley wrote when nominating 4th Fest as a wonder. Obviously, one of the great things about this terrific family event is that it gets so many members of your entire county involved in its production each year.
That participation has been a constant since 1992, when radio station owner Dan Barker started the tradition. Legions of volunteers help the nonprofit festival fundraise, book bands, arrange concessions and, of course, wire and load rows of tubes. Many take their summer vacations to see old friends.
Together, they light up the night, then boom its over and planning for next year begins. Quick facts:
The 2007 show lasted 44 minutes and 32 seconds and included music from The Flintstones and Peanuts in addition to patriotic and classical selections.
More than 10,000 shells 15 to 20 tons worth were fired this year. The show required 26 miles of wire and cost about $35,000.
About 325 volunteers, more than a third on the pyrotechnic crews, staged the 2007 show.
A computer glitch sabotaged the 2002 show, the first after 4th Fest and founder Dan Barker parted ways. But organizers rebounded the next year with a show topped by a 130-second finale.
(The Centre Daily Times is unveiling the county's wonders -- picked by readers -- every day this week. Mount Nittany was named the first wonder. Watch for a new one every day.)