Park side of the moon

By on July 9, 2014
Pink Floyd and the Wizard of Oz combined for an outstanding fireworks show in Lititz. (photo by Tom Kline)

Pink Floyd and the Wizard of Oz combined for an outstanding fireworks show in Lititz. (photo by Tom Kline)

A casual stroll down the path through Lititz Springs Park on Saturday evening felt more like a journey to Emerald City than a simple walk in the park.

In this case, it was a heavy rain storm that brought us to this land of make believe, not a Kansas tornado.

The Fourth of July in Lititz, held July 5 due to bad weather, embraced its Wizard of Oz theme. Frank Baum’s vision, adapted by the Fourth committee, was immediately evident as patrons passed the ticket gate. The park’s paths were decorated with quotes from the film classic, including, “It’s not where you go, it’s who you meet along the way,” and, of course, “There’s no place like home.”

Just as there is “no place like home,” there is also no place like Lititz, a sentiment reinforced throughout the evening. Also visible from the walkways were the thousands of candles that were to be lit during the Grand Illumination ceremony after the crowning of the 2014 Queen of the Candles.

The 73rd annual pageant began with narrator Penny Mason declaring, “The candidates for the Queen of the Candles have all been named to the honor roll or distinguished honor roll at the Warwick High School. Their talents and interests include art, sports, dance, theater, music, employment, church activities, service and volunteering throughout the community.” The young women of the court were asked to express what they most like or appreciate about Lititz.

Nadine French said the band shell stage in the park is her favorite part of Lititz because, when she was little, it was her dream to dance on that stage on the Fourth of July.

Kelly Striker’s favorite thing about Lititz is the smell of Wilbur Chocolate throughout town.

Lauren Stork 2014 Queen of Candles

Lauren Stork
2014 Queen of Candles

Lea Zikmund likes watching tourists enjoy her sweet, little town.

Jessica Poje feels Lititz is one of the nicest places to settle down and raise a family.

Rebecca Goebel’s favorite thing to do in Lititz is downtown Christmas shopping with her mother on Black Friday.

Emily Evans loves the amazing sense of community in Lititz and, of course, Wilbur Chocolate.

Laurel Aspland feels that the best thing about Lititz is both its chocolate and its people.

Bridget Esbenshade said the Rotary Club’s craft show is her favorite event.

Holly Lobb loves the small center of town and its constant smell of chocolate.

Lauren Stork’s favorite thing about Lititz is its people.

Taylor Hamilton appreciates that Lititz is so family-oriented and enjoys seeing the tourists explore all the attractions.

Elizabeth Wenger is impressed by how committed residents are in making Lititz great, like organizing the many events that take place all year long, events that she feels show Lititz is not just a dot on the map, but a community of significance.

All of the candidates, based on their testimony, love their hometown.

Shortly after the introductions, Mason proudly announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in recognizing the 2014 Queen of the Candles, Miss Lauren Gabrielle Stork.” As last year’s queen, Greta Weidemoyer, placed the crown on Stork’s head, the crowd erupted with applause.

With the sun setting, the new queen and her court proceeded to the arched stone bridge to light the first of the more than 5,000 candles that would turn the park into a spectacle of flickering, glowing brilliance. People crowded along the banks of the stream to witness the progression, and candlelight reflected merrily in the burbling stream below the framework of holders. Of course, candles weren’t the only attraction lighting up the night.

After the skies had darkened completely, the pyrotechnics display began. Because of The Wizard of Oz theme, Celebration Fireworks and Clair Global decided to set their synchronized pyromusical to the sounds of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, calling their production, “Somewhere over the Dark Side of the Rainbow.”

When the show was ready to start, the countdown to lights-out commenced as everyone in the crowd counted “three, two, one” along with the announcer. Applause filled the air as the lights went out and the fireworks began.

The show started with Judy Garland’s performance of “Somewhere over the Rainbow” as the first series of pyrotechnics erupted in the night sky. A screaming rocket shot into the air as Pink Floyd’s “On the Run” began to play with sound clips from the Wizard of Oz over it, and the fireworks display became practically psychedelic. The crowd whistled and cheered at this spectacle of sound and light.

Another sound clip from the movie, the Wicked Witch screeching, “I’ll get you my pretty,” sent the crowd into a fit of raucous applause as “Breathe (in the Air)” began to play in the background.

What better way to spend the Fourth of July than listening to Pink Floyd as the heavens shake with man-made thunder and lightning above you? Later, as the chords of “Money” began to echo throughout the field behind the park, the sky lit up in dazzling greens and golds to the delighted approval of the massive crowd. The mellow strains of “Us and Them” played over the sharp blasts of a rapid fire light show whose staccato booms lent a surreal edge to the event. As the first words from “Brain Damage” echoed across the field, the spectators burst into a thunderous round of applause, clapping and screaming at the tops of their lungs.

The finale was a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the “Star Spangled Banner.” Celebration and Clair stuck solidly to their rock and roll-fueled show, using Madison Rising’s rendition of the National Anthem, a performance that is both respectful and entertaining. Upon hearing the first notes of the song, every audience member stood up respectfully. After the last notes faded away and the lights returned, the launching site and the lower part of the Ambucs Field viewing area were covered in a cloud of smoke, the so-called “fog of war” that so many soldiers have had to contend with in protecting this country and its freedoms over the years.

It proved to be a fitting, and unique, tribute.

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