UNIVERSITY PARK — The VIPs just kept coming.
The sectioned off viewing area behind Medlar Field was mostly a field of abandoned blankets and camping chairs at 7:30 p.m. Friday, as ticket holders staked out their ground before heading back to the Central PA 4th Fest to grab one more slice of pizza, hear one more concert, play one more game.
Some left a token member of the party behind to defend the turf, but most went by the honor code.
By 8:45 p.m., the fairly orderly rows of makeshift seating were so full, it seemed there couldn’t possibly be enough room for the steady stream of people who still poured through the gates, carrying lawn chairs and beach towels, or just dropping into a random patch of grass.
The temperature was around 70 degrees, but came with a breeze that made it feel more spring than summer. Barbara Andolina winters in Arizona, trying to escape the Pennsylvania snow. The cool night left her missing the desert, but she wouldn’t miss the show.
“I love the fireworks. We come every year,” she said. “It’s tradition.”
The tradition has barely begun for Ava and Cheyenne Lose, 5. The twins came last year, and they were excited to see the loud light show again. They had folding ladybug chairs ready, but preferred their seats on grandparents Annette and Dewayne Lose, of Blanchard.
For their dad, the best part of the night was easy.
“Just getting to bring them,” said Landen Lose.
John and Lisa Shenk were among those who didn’t pay extra for the preferred viewing. Their daughter Katherine was volunteering in the craft tent with Girl Scout Troop 1374. She got a ticket for the VIP viewing and another for VIP parking. Mom and Dad took that one and set up their own viewing area, drive-in style, in the bed of the pickup.
Then the boom dropped, starting, appropriately enough with a little rockets’ red glare. The show built from there, a steady stream of crackles, pops and bangs, with star bursts of color and light. It ended with a riotous star spangled explosion just before 10 p.m.
“This is something every central Pennsylvanian should attend at least once,” said Justin Allen, of Morrisdale.
Lori Falce can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @LoriFalce.