Fabulous Fourth

By on July 8, 2015

It’s not an easy decision. But somebody has to do it.

That somebody was Tim Reedy, chairman of 198th Fourth of July Committee.

Faced with the possibility of a rainy July 4 in Lititz Springs Park, Reedy consulted his team of committee members to make the call. The forecast indicated that rain showers would end by early afternoon. And they did…sort of.

“The weather radar didn’t show some of the little showers that came through Lititz on Saturday, but it was mostly drizzle,” said Reedy.

The committee decided to go ahead with the Fourth of July festivities, but delayed the opening of the gates by about an hour to 1:30 p.m. That gave them some extra time to make some preparations, like putting down a few wood planks to cover mud and dry off the band shell benches.

By the time the Queen of the Candles, Grand Illumination and fireworks rolled around, the clouds had moved away and things went off as planned, just a bit behind schedule.

Reedy estimated that the crowd was just a bit shy of the usual 10,000 to 12,000. Most everyone donned their sneakers and flip flops, and carried an umbrella just in case. A few kids found that the muddy patches were great playgrounds in addition to the real playground at the park.

The park was filled with food wagons, like Brewster’s BBQ, Wood Fired Pizza, Sweet & Salty Kettle Korn, Tom’s Vegetable Co., and Tropical Smoothie. There was gourmet mac ‘n cheese, hot dogs, crab cakes, burgers and lemonade. Boy Scouts offered free funnel cakes, requesting a donation for the deep fried doughy treats topped with powdered sugar.

“There were a lot of things to weigh in our decision,” recalled Reedy. “I think it went well overall.”

With Lancaster’s Long Park festivities planned for Sunday, with Charlie Smithgall’s grand cannon finale, the committee hesitated to reschedule Lititz’s event on its July 5 rain date. Not only would it reduce the people coming to Lititz, but it might steal some of Lancaster’s thunder.

“We wanted people to be able to go to both events,” said Reedy.

An even bigger consideration was getting all the entertainment and activities back to the park on the rain date. As Reedy noted, many of the performers have tight schedules and might not be able to stick around for Sunday. Since the Fourth of July was on a Saturday, families could enjoy the nighttime fireworks better than on a Sunday, when Monday was a work day. Lititz Springs Park is owned by the Moravian Church and Sunday events require special permission to extend late at night.

Organizers were lucky that the rain was light earlier in the day, and fell mostly in the morning. That gave some time for the park to dry out a bit, before the crowds arrived. The fireworks could be protected from rain damage and the candles were not drenched. Last year was a different story, said Reedy, when heavy rains soaked the grounds the night before and the flood-prone park needed to dry out for a day or two.

“Based on experience, postponing the July Fourth event results in a drop of some 20 percent of visitors,” said Reedy, adding that many people come from out of town.

Losing those visitors and admission fees would reduce the proceeds from the Fourth of July festivities. Lititz Springs Park relies on the event to help maintain the park grounds and facilities.

“We just had to keep our fingers crossed,” said Reedy. “I think it was the right decision.”

Most of the entertainment was on hand for the festivities, including Pulse Dance Studio, the Lititz Community Band, the Mama Tried Band, and Corey Kerstetter. Chris Poje performed ‘50s and ‘60s hits like Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Off of You” and Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way.” The retired New York Police Department detective turned doo-wop singer brought a slice of the Big Apple to Lititz with a volunteer “rockettes” performance to “New York, New York.”

Reagan Conrad was crowned 2015 Queen of the Candles in its 74th year, with her court of 11 recent Warwick High School graduates by her side. The daughter of Jeff and Kim Conrad, she was a member of Warwick’s Link Crew, the Leos Club, Homecoming Court, the Warwick Girls Lacrosse team, and she was a student athletic trainer for the high school football team. She is set to attend Temple University to study broadcast journalism.

Her court included Linn Bjanes, Madelyn Class, Danielle de Perrot, Leah Gregor, Gia Gruett, Kelsea Hershey, Kayla Honecker, Morgan Miller, Deanna Preziosi, Natasha Rovenolt and Taylor Sweeney. The crown bearer was Landon Elmer and the flower girl was Sheridan Mackenzie.

After Conrad was crowned, she passed the flame from her candle to the members of the court and on to the Lititz Boy Scouts who then lit the Grand Illumination of some 4,500 candles. Fireworks were delayed by about 20 minutes, starting around 10:10 p.m.

“We were just glad that we could have the Fourth of July on the Fourth of July,” said Reedy.

Laura Knowles is a local freelance writer and a veteran reporter of the Lititz Fourth of July. She welcomes reader feedback at lknowles21@gmail.com.

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