A star-spangled holiday in Waynesboro

July 05, 2005|by DON AINES

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Darkening skies above big cities and small towns across America lit up Monday night to explosive displays of peonies, palms and chrysanthemums, usually orchestrated by crews of professional pyrotechnicians.

In Waynesboro, however, volunteers set up the tubes, loaded the shells and lit the fuses for the aerial display that was the finale of the ninth annual Waynesboro Summer Jubilee.

This year's display, costing $8,400, consisted of 1,473 aerial bursts, said Stanley Barkdoll, a licensed pyrotechnician and president of the Waynesboro Fireworks Association, the group that for years has been responsible for putting the bang in the community's Fourth of July celebrations.


"We have a lot more salutes this year than in previous years," said Barkdoll. Salutes, he said, are shells that produce "a bright flash and a boom loud enough to thump you in the chest."

Barkdoll, along with wife, Kay, Alice Argenbright, Crystal Hann, Mike Glenn, Mike Bushman and Ken Koll, started setting up equipment about a dozen hours before the first shell was set to go off at 9:30 p.m.

The shells range in diameter from 2 to 8 inches and are named for what the makers deem they most closely resemble, Barkdoll said. From a box he lifted one labeled "Saturn ring dark peony with silver tail."

"The majority of these names were concocted by someone who spoke English as a second language," he said of the Chinese-made fireworks, supplied by Schaefer Pyrotechnics of Strasburg, Pa.

For the past two years, the association has been contracted by the Summer Jubilee Committee, which raised $30,000 for Monday's events, according to Jubilee Co-chairman Dr. Joseph Stewart. Barkdoll said it has worked well, as fireworks fundraising became an annual struggle.

"It's like the United Way," he said of the arrangement. "We put all our begs in one ask it."

Barkdoll said the crew enjoys one major fringe benefit.

"They get to light the fuses. That's part of the compensation package," he said.

The Summer Jubilee had a lot more to offer than fireworks as a few thousand people roamed about the field across the street from Waynesboro Hospital. Events began at 8:30 a.m. with the 290 runners competing the Firecracker 5K Run and a parade down Main Street two hours later.

"I don't know how you'd measure how many people have been in an out of here today," Stewart said at mid-afternoon.

"It just keeps growing," co-chairman Justin Dunlap said.

Bill Reynolds of R&M Chicken BBQ of Lancaster, Pa., said he has been coming to the jubilee for six years. "I've been getting ready for this for 10 days," he said.

"Each year I bring more food and each year I run out," he said at about 2:30 p.m. as he prepared to head to a local grocery store to buy its supply of Italian sausages.

There was a long line for helicopter rides, but Grant Bailey said it was worth the two hours he and his father, Greg, waited for a spin in the whirlybird.

"It was cool to see the little small people at our house," he said of the flight, which took them over their home.

Halle Walizer appeared unwilling to give up a baby bunny she was holding at a 4-H Club petting zoo, while other children stroked sleeping calfs.

"This is probably the first time I've been down to it," her grandmother Rose Walizer said of the jubilee. Her daughter suggested they go to Harrisburg, Pa., for Independence Day, but Walizer said she decided to stay closer to home.

"It's a nice little hometown thing," Croft Pentz said as he and wife, Arlene, arrived at the jubilee. "Here, you know so many people."

The Herald-Mail Articles