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Williamsport celebration brings sense of community

July 04, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

WILLIAMSPORT -- It was an old-fashioned sense of community that drew hundreds of people to celebrate July Fourth in Williamsport.

The Town of Williamsport hosted its annual Independence Day celebration Sunday at Byron Memorial Park.

"You see a lot of people you know," said Terry Masters of Halfway. "It's just a community-type event."

Festivities at the park kicked off at about 6 a.m. with a pancake breakfast, said Mayor James G. McCleaf II.

By 6 p.m., the grass around the gazebo was slowly filling with lawn chairs and blankets as people scoped out spots for the concert and fireworks finale.

A key tradition for the event is the Williamsport Community Band concert of patriotic music leading up to and during the fireworks display.

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One woman said she comes from Frederick, Md., to hear the music and see the fireworks.

Music started filling the park early in the day with a lineup of acts playing a variety of musical styles, said Mike Sparks, director of economic and community development.

However, it was not until just before 8 p.m. that the band began playing patriotic favorites.

The evening portion is the most popular, said McCleaf.

It started with the presentation of the honor guard, the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and the playing of taps by Senior Master Sgt. Ron Glazer of the 167th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard.

Approximately 760 shells waited for their turn to light the night sky with fireworks, Sparks said.

"Oh yeah, the fireworks are great," said Kim Iman of Hagerstown.

Yet for all the music and fanfare, July 4 in Williamsport remained a celebration of freedom, Iman said.

"It's about being together, about being able to celebrate freedom," she said.

McCleaf said he and the town council are already beginning to plan for the 2011 celebration.

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