195th rewind Calta crowned queen

By on July 11, 2012

By: LAURIE KNOWLES CALLANAN Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer

Taylor Calta is crowned 2012 Queen of the Candles by last year’s queen Danielle Keim. Some said they fizzled, while others vaguely noticed that the usually spectacular fireworks at the 195th Fourth of July in Lititz Springs Park were not quite as spectacular as usual.

The fireworks show lasted about half as long as in past years and had far fewer high rising bursts of color. There was no big display at the end, leaving some people wondering if the show was over.

In the crowd, a few people could be heard saying, "This is it?"

As it turned out, a technical malfunction by fireworks company Celebration Fireworks’ equipment caused many of the aerial fireworks to misfire and never make it off the ground.

According to Lititz Springs Park Board president Ron Reedy, organizers of the event were saddened by the weak showing on July 4. He noted that Lititz has a reputation for a world class fireworks display, and apologized to those who attended the event and spent $10 admission for the annual festivities.

Celebration Fireworks also issued an apology and indicated that they were trying to figure out what went wrong. It was the fifth year that the company had done the fireworks in conjunction with Clair Global handling the synchronized music.

"Sincerest apologies are extended to everyone who paid to attend the celebration," said Reedy, adding that the fireworks company is discussing plans to make it up to Lititz Springs Park in some way, possibly with the do-over at some point.

Lititz’s Fourth of July celebration in the park was a joyous occasion, tempered by sadness. Less than seven hours after Taylor Calta was crowned as the 71st Queen of the Candles, along with her court of 11 recent Warwick High School graduates, they lost a classmate in a tragic car accident in Warwick Township.

Dylan Dieffenbach, 18, died after the vehicle in which he was a passenger crashed on Owl Hill Road. The car was driven by another recent Warwick High School graduate, Christian Mark Will, 18. Northern Lancaster Regional Police are investigating the circumstances of the accident and seeking any witnesses or persons with information.

For the recent 2012 class of Warwick High School, it was the second loss of a classmate. On May 11, just a month before they graduated, senior Tiffany Cumberbatch died at the Heart and Vascular Intensive Care unit at Hershey Medical Center.

For the Queen of the Candles court and all of their classmates at Warwick High School, the two losses were difficult to bear.

Twelve recent Warwick High School graduates were among the young women participating in the pageant, which dates back to 1942. Along with Queen Calta, the court included Kelsey Cowher, Cristina Maymi, Bethany Han, Sarah Fitzpatrick, Taylor Stork, Savannah Watkins, Julia Loose, Brittney Bomberger, Maggie Cunliffe, Emma Rissinger and Kristi Reidenbaugh. The flower girl was Addy Ober and crown bearer was Carter Hain. Calta was crowned by last year’s queen, Danielle Keim.

It was a day for heroes during Lititz’s 195th Fourth of July celebration, with the theme of "Our American Heroes." Each of the queen candidates commemorated their own heroes among family and friends, including those serving in recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Calta wanted to honor her grandfathers Basil Washchysion, who served in the Korean War, and Salvatore Caltabellotta, who served in World War II. Brittney Bomberger wanted to thank and honor Robert Bomberger for serving in the United States Air Force. Kelsey Cowher honored her two grandfathers for serving in the armed forces, while Maggie Cunliffe honored her grandfather, Edward Cunliffe Sr., for serving in the Air Force during World War II. Sarah Fitzpatrick’s grandfather Tony Mendola served in the Korean War, while Bethany Han paid tribute to her cousin Robert Guard, who served in the Iraq War. Julia Loose’s grandfather, Jim Loose, served in the Korean War, while Cristina Maymi’s grandfather, Francisco Vazquez, was an Vietnam veteran serving in the Army. Kristi Reidenbaugh honored her stepbrother, David Stauffer Jr., who served in the Iraq War. Emma Rissinger paid tribute to her brother Matt Rissinger, who is currently serving in the United States Marine Corps. Taylor Stork’s cousins Reid Preece and Sean Pickel both served in Iraq. Savannah Watkins honored several heroic relatives who served in the military, including her grandfather Gary, her father Chris, her uncle Doug, her brother Colton and brother Derek, who has served twice in Iraq.

The Queen of the Candles pageant was among the highlights of a day-long celebration that is believed to be one of the oldest continuous Fourth of July events, dating back to 1818.

As queen, Calta initiated the Illumination of Candles by lighting the candles of her court members. Lititz Boy Scouts were then ready to transport torches to illuminate the display of more than 5,000 candles that lined Lititz Springs Park and sparkled in the warm evening air.

It was the culmination if a full day if activities that included the 23rd Annual Baby Parade, New Line Revue dancers, gold panning with General Sutter, a pie eating contest, a performance by Insanity Factor, Steven Courtney music for the family, the video tribute to "An American Hero Salute" and music by country singer Nicole Donatone. More QUEEN, page A16

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