Williamsport host Fireworks in the Park festival

July 04, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WILLIAMSPORT - The threat of storms did not deter people from visiting Byron Memorial Park on Wednesday, where the town held its sixth annual Fireworks in the Park festival.

"We've had some clouds hovering, but I don't think it has stopped anyone from coming," said Jeff Cline, festival organizer and a town councilman.

The celebration began at 6:30 a.m. with a pancake breakfast sponsored by the Williamsport Volunteer Fire Department and the "Race for Freedom" 5K, which started at 8:30 a.m.

Cline said more than 360 people attended the pancake breakfast, and more than 120 ran in the 5K.

"This has really turned into an all-day festival," said Cline, who noted that this was the first year in which bands were scheduled to play all afternoon.


People were setting up folding chairs and laying out tarps as the Crossroads Band took the stage at 11 a.m. Many marked their spots and drifted around the park, visiting the vendor stands and other activities, including the gymnastics demonstrations by the 4-Star Athletic Gymnastic Club in Williamsport.

"The girls love the festival," 4-Star owner Nica Sutch said. "They stay all day and hang out after they perform."

Gymnast McKenna Kissinger, 7, said she was looking forward to playing and eating after her performance.

"I like the ice cream," she said.

Janine Andrews of Hagerstown said she brought her 8-year-old nephew, James, to the festival in the afternoon "just to enjoy the day." They wandered over to a booth set up by a local radio station, where they spun a prize wheel and won tickets to a Baltimore Orioles game.

Councilman Earle Pereschuk said the afternoon crowd was good, but that he was expecting a bigger crowd when local band Spectrum took the stage at 5 p.m.

"That and the fireworks are always a big draw," Pereschuk said.

By dusk, when the fireworks began, hundreds of people had laid chairs and blankets over almost all of the grass in the park.

The festival has been a huge success since it began in 2002, Cline said.

"I know we're getting successful because people are coming here early to save their spots for later," Cline said.

The festival is almost completely funded by nonprofits and set up by volunteers, said Cline, who noted that more than 100 people helped put the festival together.

"That's what I'm most proud of," Cline said. "Everyone coming together to give their neighbors something like this on the Fourth of July. It's pretty special."

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