Chances are the fireworks and majority of American flags on display on July 4 originated in China, but the holiday is all American.
The Fourth of July, celebrated in some form in Centre County since 1927 and as the Central Pennsylvania 4th Fest since 2001, draws revelers from throughout the region to watch fireworks, eat cake and enjoy themselves on the midway. All events will be held near the Bryce Jordan Center and Beaver Stadium.
This year, the celebration will feature the first America’s Got Heroes Parade of Heroes. The event is meant to honor community-nominated heroes with a commemorative plaque and spot in the parade lineup.
“We’ve had it on the back burner for years,” 4th Fest executive director Bernie Keisling said. “We never could figure out how to pull it off.”
A committee saw to it that this year a parade was included.
“As you can imagine, the heroes are mostly reluctant heroes,” Keisling said. “Some are cautious and don’t want the recognition.”
Heroes were selected based on sacrifice, service and support to the United States. Those nominated but not selected will receive honorable mention certificates. The parade will kick off at 2 p.m. in front of the State College Municipal Building on South Allen Street and will travel downtown, across Penn State’s campus and to the law school building.
Keisling expressed excitement over the festival’s other new feature — a flyover by a World War II-era B-25 Mitchell. Keisling said there were more than 9,000 manufactured.
“It’s the airplane that flew in World War II, over Italy and Corsica,” he said. “There are only between 25 and 30 still flying in the world and we’re bringing one to the area.”
The plane will fly over the festival at 6, 7 and 8 p.m., and it will be parked to tour and view at University Park Airport during the day.
In addition to the new events will be the popular standbys — the Firecracker 4K, live music, a military equipment display and living history actors, the Midway Carnival and the Founder’s Mall, featuring a variety of nonprofit groups from the region.
The festival is one of the country’s top fireworks presentations, according to Travel Magazine, and in the top three biggest and best displays, according to Fireworks Guide. Pyrotechnics demonstration volunteers will offer interested patrons a glimpse of what goes into the show. As is every year, the 45-minute lights show will be matched to patriotic, big band, rock and jazz and movie soundtrack music.
While the renowned fireworks show, music by local bands, a giant birthday cake and more mark the annual celebration, Operation Thank You is one of the more significant portions of the day’s event. A booth will be set up for patrons to drop off donations — such as practical, sanitary, games and comfort items — which then will be sent to American troops stationed overseas. Special thank-you cards will be available for purchase and the money will be used to defray the cost of shipping the packages.
Celebration activities• 9 a.m.: Firecracker 4K Race
• 10:15 a.m.: Display of World War II B-25 Warbird “Yankee Warrior”
• 2 p.m.: Parade of Heroes (starts at South Allen Street)
• 2 p.m.-midnight: Midway Carnival
• 2:30 p.m.: World War II B-25 Warbird “Yankee Warrior” tour
• 4-8 p.m.: Military equipment display
• 4, 5:30 and 7 p.m.: Pyrotechnics demonstration
• 4-8 p.m.: Kids’ activities and nonprofit organizations at Founder’s Mall
• 4-8 p.m.: 148th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Company C living history group
• 4-8 p.m.: 4th Fest Freedom Franks meal
• 5 and 6:30 p.m.: People-powered vehicles display with Bob Swaim
• 6 p.m.: Birthday cake
• 6, 7 and 8 p.m.: World War II B-25 Warbird “Yankee Warrior” flyover
• 9 p.m.: Fireworks
• 10:15 p.m.: Street dance with Chris Vipond and the Stanley Street Band
• 2 p.m.: The Long Afternoon
• 2:45 p.m. Seven2Ten
• 3:30 p.m.: Taylor Made
• 4:15 p.m.: Chosen
• 5 p.m.: Rick Hirsch and Freedom Jazz
• 6 p.m.: Overhead
• 7 p.m.: State College Area Municipal Band
• 8 p.m.: ESP
Bryce Jordan Center lawn
• 2 p.m.: Jason Dumm
• 3 p.m.: The Sveltones
• 4 p.m.: Jason Davoli
• 5 p.m.: Chris Good
• 6 p.m.: Karaoke contest
• 6:30 p.m.: Bob Timney
• 7:15 p.m.: Pure Cane Sugar
• 8:15 p.m.: Tommy Wareham
• 3 p.m.: A Day Awaits
• 3:45 p.m.: Tir Na Nog dancers
• 4:30 p.m.: Hounds of Soul
• 5:15 p.m.: Riley Roth
• 6 p.m.: Black Coffee
• 7 p.m.: Biscuit Jam
• 8 p.m.: AC Express