Fourth of July celebration in Lititz Springs Park is an all-day affair

By on June 22, 2016
The Lausch family — Brady, Caden and Ava — rocked the ‘50s theme at the 2015 baby parade in Lititz Springs Park, and took home the event’s grand prize.

The Lausch family — Brady, Caden and Ava — rocked the ‘50s theme at the 2015 baby parade in Lititz Springs Park, and took home the event’s grand prize.

Lititz has been celebrating Independence Day in Lititz Springs Park for 199 years, making it one of the oldest consecutive community-wide celebrations in the United States.

The first recorded Fourth of July observance in the park occurred July 4, 1811. This met with disapproval from the Moravian Governing Authority for “merrymaking.”

It was not until July 4, 1818 that Lititz held its first community-wide celebration. The Moravians, who did not want to show a lack of patriotism, now encouraged the observance.

In 1843, planners decided to light 400 candles — advertised as a “general illumination of the grounds.” The candle lighting tradition was borrowed from the Moravian Christmas Vigil. Since that time, the number of candles lit during the average Lititz Fourth of July event has risen to 5,000.

Queen of the Candles

This year’s celebration marks the 75th anniversary of the Queen of the Candles pageant. The pageant was created as a special event to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the inception of the grand illumination of the park. With its fanfare, this colorful pomp-filled spectacle quickly became a favorite of revelers and was added to the annual celebration.

Former queens and court members from throughout the history of the pageant will be visiting this year’s celebration, and a historical display will be set up.

This year’s Queen of the Candles pageant starts at 8:20 p.m., and will be followed by the 174th Illumination of Candles at 8:45.

Oh, baby!

A baby parade was held during the event in 1937. At that time, the parade began at 7 p.m., at the “coffee house” at the west end of the park, and was led by a trio of musicians dressed at The Spirit of ‘76. The parade disbanded at the newly constructed band shell, where the winners were announced. The tradition continued until 1959.

Mayor Roy Clair Jr. encouraged the revival of the baby parade in 1986. The Lititz Woman’s Club took the reigns, and it has been an afternoon staple of the celebration ever since.

Registration for this year’s baby parade takes place at 12:30 p.m. at the inner parking lot of the park. No pre-registration is necessary. The parade begins at 1:45.

While each parent hopes their child’s float will win the Delmar Landis Grand Prize, organizers always have several other unique categories planned, including Best Use of the “Greetings from Lititz Springs Park” Theme; Most Creative; Best Float; and Best Hometown Spirit.

Photo by Tom Kline The pyromusical fireworks finale, created by Celebration Fireworks, will begin at 9:55 p.m.

Photo by Tom Kline
The pyromusical fireworks finale, created by Celebration Fireworks, will begin at 9:55 p.m.

Rockets’ red glare

Although not the oldest part of the celebration, fireworks are certainly the loudest and most climactic. In 1846, fireworks were added to the festivities. with Charles Getz of the Lancaster Museum igniting the first display

Celebration Fireworks has been presenting their choreographed pyromusicals in Lititz Springs Park since 2009. While most pyromusicals (fireworks tightly synchronized with a musical soundtrack) are reserved for major international competitions, Celebrations Fireworks has successfully adapted them for 2013’s “Coolest Small Town in America.”

The fireworks begin on July 2 at approximately 9:55 p.m. The general public may put their blankets down at the fireworks field from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m . that morning. Tarps, stakes, and rocks are not permitted, for safety reasons.

A day at the beach

Gates open at Lititz Springs Park at noon on July 2, and a full slate of entertainment and displays have been planned.

The theme of this year’s celebration is “Greetings from Lititz Springs Park,” and certain areas of the park will set up to evoke the feeling of being at the beach.

“The area around the gazebo will be turned into a boardwalk, and it will feel like you’re walking to the beach,” divulged Fourth of July Committee Chairman Tim Reedy, adding that this KidZone paradise will include the classic beach arcade game skeeball. There will also be free prizes, free popcorn and free cotton candy for the kids. “We’re trying to create a great atmosphere for families with this.”

A food court will be set up in the inner parking lot, sponsored by the Appalachian Brewing Company and Penn Cinema.

Entertainment

The KidZone is open from 12:30 until 5:15 p.m., when Steven Courtney will give a concert. Pulse Dance Studio, Jack Hubley and his Critters, Phredd, and Marian and Friends area also scheduled to appear.

In the park’s band shell, visitors can enjoy a concert by the Lititz Community Band, Chris Poje, and Mama Tried.

One hour prior to the fireworks, a dance party with DJ Ronnie Ramone of Fun101.3 will take place in the fireworks viewing area.

A full schedule of the day’s activities can be viewed at lititz4thofjuly.com.

No pets, knives, firearms, fireworks (including sparklers), skateboards, scooters, or bikes are allowed in the park during the celebration. A rain date has been set for July 3.

Discounted tickets can be purchased at Bomberger’s Store, McElroy Pharmacy, Stauffers of Kissel Hill in Lititz, and the Lititz Welcome Center for the early bird price of $10 for adults 13 and older. Kids 12 and under enter free. On the day of the event at the gate, tickets cost $12.

Melissa Hunnefield is a staff writer at the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your questions and comments at 721-4452 or mhunnefield.eph@lnpnews.com.

 

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