Star-spangled soaker

By on July 11, 2018

Nearly 12,000 endure rain as town rings in 201st 4th of July

More than just the fireworks were hot last Wednesday as Lititz celebrated its 201st consecutive 4th of July–this time in sweltering heat and humidity.

And while temperatures reached the mid 90s for the fourth of five straight days, it didn’t seem to deter excited event-goers as they poured into the gates of the Lititz Springs Park all day.
“Our final visitor count looks like just over 11,800 people,” stated Kellye Martin, who co-organized the event on behalf of the Lititz 4th of July committee. To compare, Martin noted that last year’s 200th celebration–which featured perfect weather &tstr; drew an estimated 13,000 guests. Martin was extremely pleased with the turnout, despite the less than perfect skies. While the full fireworks show did go on as planned, several attendees voiced concerns about paying at the gate, then having to leave early due to the rain and therefore missing the fireworks show later that evening.

Spectators arrived as early as 4:30 a.m. ­to lay down their blankets and chairs in the softball field ­ the viewing spot of choice for many years. Here’s a overhead drone view of their efforts. Photo courtesy of Click-U Photography.

Several others agreed, and lamented the fact that the rain date of July 5 wasn’t green-lighted.

“While the event does have a rain date, it was intended to be used only for a complete day wash out,” she added.

“The added challenge of July 4th falling on a mid-week day meant pushing remaining festivities to the next day, and hindering visitors who had to return to work.”

“We know we will never make everyone happy, but we put a ton of time and effort into getting as close as we can,” Martin stated.

“But walking back up to the stage, announcing that the fireworks were still on and hearing the cheer rise up from the crowd, I knew immediately that we made the right call,” she said. “I knew the people of Lititz had it in them to make the best of the situation, to literally dance in the rain, and continue to enjoy time together with friends and family.”

With different weather apps and radars giving off different information, it became a minute-by-minute case observing what was happening all around the park. In the end, it came down to everyone who made the sacrifice to be there that day despite periods of rain, who all gave an enthusiastic thumbs up to move forward with the evening.

So the show went on.

Andrew Woolley proposed to Ashlee Garman during the 4th of July fireworks in Lititz Springs Park. Andrew and Ashlee both grew up in Lititz and are Warwick graduates (Ashlee ’09 and Andrew ’11). Ashlee is a 3rd grade teacher at Kissel Hill Elementary and Andrew is a financial planner at Personal Wealth Advisory. This year has been an exiting one for them as Ashlee recently earned her Master’s degree, Andrew recently earned his CFP designation, and now they are engaged. They were dating for almost 2 years prior to their engagement.

Martin explained that as organizers closed in on the launch time for the fireworks, Chris Hopkins of Celebration Fireworks requested 15 more minutes in an effort to dry out and reset a few crucial pieces of the show.

Turns out, he made the right decision.

At 10 p.m., the rain stopped and the pyro-musical took center stage with a tune from “The Greatest Showman.” It was a great payoff for both those that stuck it out all day, and those that decided to return to the park later in the day.

Marin added “I know there were a lot of people who were disappointed that we didn’t move the fireworks to the next night, but there would have been the same amount, if not more, people that would have been upset if we didn’t hold them on July 4th.” She and her staff would like to thank attendees for supporting the park during it’s largest fundraiser of the year.

Despite the weather, droves of people of all ages filtered through the gates and made the best of the day. In the Kids Zone, the Willy Wonka-theme proved to be quite a “sweet” attraction, as younger generations enjoyed face painting, fun games of chance, and entertainment by Judy Pancoast, Insanity Factor, Jesse Rothracker with his Forgotten Friend Reptile Show, and much more. As afternoon turned to night, the crowds grew as last-minute attendees scrambled for any remaining spot to view the fireworks from inside the park. Due to some light rain, this year’s fireworks program ­commenced at 10 p.m.

Janine Miller (front) was on hand with illustrator Betsy Cook who held a story time in the Kids Zone with their book “Three Wishes for Wilbur.”

Earlier that day, eager spectators arrived as early as 4:30 a.m., many setting up small grills and prepared breakfast before they were allowed to lay down their blankets and chairs in the softball field ­ the viewing spot of choice for many years. By 7:30 a.m. when the gates opened, the line nearly stretched to the Lititz RecCenter.

Despite a little rain, the full fireworks show took place on July 4.

At the end of the evening, “CINEMAGIQUE: A Fantasy in Fireworks and Lasers” presented by Celebration Fireworks lit up the night sky. And while many blankets and seats were soaked, nobody seemed to mind. The show, which lasted approximately 40 minutes, featured lasers, fire balls, ground effects, and of course lots of color and thunder in the sky.

Clearly, it was all worth the wait.

Cory Van Brookhoven is a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your comments at cvanbrookhoven@lnpnews.com or 717-721-4423. 

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