Penn State

4th Fest ready for a blast: Final preps made for big fireworks show

Hannah Schuster, 14, and her 11-year-old brother, Brandon, are the masterminds behind at least one fireworks design for the Central PA 4th Fest.

The duo have been volunteering for three years with their grandparents, Janis and Bob Mathewson, of Port Matilda, who help with the pyrotechnic part of the planning.

“You take a lot of pride in this work when you know someone like your grandkids are behind it,” Janis Mathewson said.

The 4th Fest show is marketed as the third-largest fireworks display and celebration in the country. The event, which started in 2002, attracts up to 100,000 visitors from as far away as California.

Matt Lindenberg, co-chairman of pyrotechnics, said this year’s show will feature 11,600 fireworks.

“You’d be surprised that we get calls from people from all over asking if we’re doing the event again and each year, we say yes,” Lindenberg said.

Volunteers began setting up last week for the fireworks behind Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

Lindenberg said about 100 volunteers help with the setup and organization of the event. By the Fourth of July, he said, there will be about 500 who help in all facets of the show.

“It’s really nice to see your work come together and see that your work can be a success,” Hannah Schuster said.

But the planning began long before volunteers started to set up.

Lindenberg said a committee of people meet around Labor Day to plan for ideas and order fireworks.

“It’s an all-year process,” he said. “We’ve actually began getting music inquiries for next year’s fireworks display and we’re not even done with this year yet.”

The 45-minute long firework display will be choreographed with numerous songs, which can be heard live on 93.7 The Bus. Lindenberg couldn’t say what songs were chosen this year, but said it would be both patriotic and upbeat to keep the viewers entertained.

In addition to the fireworks display at 9:15 p.m., numerous other events will be held around the stadium and the Bryce Jordan Center.

“Each year, we try to do something new,” Lindenberg said. “We always try to have one large event. One year we had skydivers. And we’re always changing the firework effects.”

This year, a team of professional lumberjacks from Minnesota will be the highlight of the event. Two teams of lumberjacks will compete in 11 different events, including logrolling.

The 30-minute lumberjack shows are scheduled for 4:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and after each show will be a 30-minute lumberjack camp where guests will have the opportunity to interact with the lumberjacks.

The State College Spikes will play a 1 p.m. game Thursday against Batavia at Medlar Field.

The Parade of Heroes will begin at 2 p.m. in downtown State College and cross the campus.

For more information, visit or contact Bernie Keisling at 404-8777 or by email at