Centre County has been formally celebrating Independence Day since 1927. If you and yours don't have a favorite spot to watch the fireworks from by now, chances are you're just preoccupied with other things, like the 15 straight hours of "NCIS" that seems to round out every holiday on the USA Network.
Nevertheless, here are a few quick tips to make navigating that and the rest of this year's Central PA 4thFest easier.
Let's start with parking: A detail that always seems completely trivial until you drive past a grown man trying not to let the four kids in the backseat catch him weeping openly on the side of the road. Early bird parking (located in lot 43 and 83 off University Drive) opens at 8 a.m. and can be yours for a requested donation of $10. General parking opens at 9 a.m. VIP parking passes can be purchased at the Bryce Jordan Center's ticket office, all RedLine Speedshine locations and online at Eventbrite.
The good news is that there's no general admission fee at 4thFest: But if you're bound and determined to spend some money on this thing, there are certainly ways to make that happen. There are too many concession offerings to list individually, but the collective menu takes its cue from the hedonist's food pyramid — pierogies, Hawaiian shaved ice, funnel cakes, soft serve ice cream, sugar waffles, cheesesteaks, German roasted nuts, chicken-on-a-stick, deep fried Oreos and for the health-conscious, pizza.
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Also, there's a parade: It starts in front of the State College Municipal Building at 2 p.m. and travels across the Penn State campus to arrive at the Bryce Jordan Center. There's other entertainment scheduled to help plug the gaps between funnel cakes, including the Dialed Action Sports BMX team and a lineup of bands like Ramalama and ESP that will begin unfurling at 4 p.m.
And then there's the small matter of the fireworks show: The show features between 10,000 and 12,000 shells that are set off over a 45-minute period. The cost of a $25 VIP Viewing Pass will get you a spot close to the action on the east side of Porter Road. If you're possessed of an aversion to traffic or large crowds, try setting up a folding chair in Nittany View Park or up on Mount Nittany.