UNIVERSITY PARK — Ben Carey knows exactly what he wants out of a parade.
The 7-year-old State College boy sat on a folding chair near the curb waiting for the Central PA 4th Fest parade to come through campus Friday. He had a short list of things he was looking to see. It started with dogs. It ended with ponies.
“Your sister isn’t on that list at all?” dad Michael Carey asked.
For the proud father, seeing Grace, 9, twirling with the Nittany Dreamers was definitely the highlight.
Gabbie Pighetti, 14, of Howard, was waiting to see people she knew, like friends in some bands and the Centre County Grange Fair queen. But for the big Pighetti clan, it was more of a family reunion, but with firetrucks and batons.
“I’m just hanging out with my family,” said Gina Pighetti. She came up for the holiday with husband Tom Jarnigan from Tennessee and took in the parade fun.
For others, like the 2-year-old toddler with his 2-month-old brother sleeping on a nearby blanket, it was a first parade experience. His mom hopes it will become a tradition. The little boy was pretty sure it was about lollipops and Tootsie Rolls and the stuffed cow toy that someone from Chick-Fil-A handed him.
Dan and Joan Kerstetter see it as a fun way to participate in the community, in more ways than one.
“We like to show support for our local activities,” said Joan, in her fireworks-festooned shirt. The pair staked out prime parade real estate under a tree for some shade.
Dan doesn’t have to wait long for his favorite part of the festivities. It comes right up front, when the honor guard from Boalsburg steps off to start the show.
“It’s just a nice opening,” he said.
With a son-in-law who is active military, they appreciate being able to show support for all of the armed forces and veterans groups.
“The Fourth of July is about independence, so you have to consider all those who committed themselves to protect us,” said Dan.
Lori Falce can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @LoriFalce.