Central PA 4thFest brings Friday night fireworks to University Park

University Park, Pa. -- Independence Day in Happy Valley this year means a long holiday weekend that starts with a big bang ... or rather hundreds of bangs.

Central PA 4thFest, the region's highly popular all-volunteer fireworks event will cap off a day of fun family-friendly events.

Visitors to 4thFest can kick off the morning with the Firecracker 4K race. In the afternoon attendees can enjoy America's favorite pastime at a State College Spikes baseball game, cool off inside at the Bryce Jordan Center Family Playground, then tune in for late afternoon music on two stages and at the Towne Square at the Bryce Jordan Center's parking lot.

At 9:15 p.m. "The Greatest Fireworks Show on Earth!" begins, and the audience is reminded to tune to radio station 93.7 FM The Bus for musical accompaniment to the nearly one-hour pyrotechnical show. VIP tickets to a special viewing area are on sale for individuals and groups, and some ticket packages include VIP parking passes as well.

Following the fireworks once again is a street dance outside the Bryce Jordan Center for those not eager to see the holiday celebration come to a close. Concessions will remain open during the dance.

New this year at 4thFest, "Operation Thank You" will collect food, comfort and practical items, games and small amusements for our nation's military personnel stationed overseas. A list of recommended items for donation, which will be collected at a booth on Curtin Road between the Bryce Jordan Center and Beaver Stadium, is available online. Alternatively, supporters can sign thank-you cards for the troops for $1 per signature or $10 per card, and the proceeds will help pay for shipment of packages assembled from donated items.

Also new at 4thFest, which has a theme this year of "Rally Around the Flag," will be a display of several military vehicles, including Apache and Black Hawk helicopters.

In addition, through a grant from NASA, the Penn State Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics will be distributing thousands of "diffraction grating masks."  These masks diffract the light from any light source, which breaks up the light into a spectrum, or rainbow, of colors. The masks provide a new way of viewing the colorful explosions, but also show how scientists study distant light sources, like stars, using the technique of spectroscopy. (For more information, click here.)

Central PA 4thFest, a nonprofit event run by an all-volunteer board, costs more than $200,000 annually to produce, and is funded through individual and parking donations, concessions and business sponsorships.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010