By Bernie Keisling, Penn State
UNIVERSITY PARK – One of the nation’s biggest July 4 celebrations is getting even bigger this year. Central Pennsylvania 4thFest, recognized as having the third-largest Independence Day fireworks show in the country, is adding a Parade of Heroes to the festivities this year.
The Parade of Heroes is a way to publicly thank and recognize the heroes of Central Pennsylvania, including the military veterans, firefighters, doctors and nurses who work protecting and healing people, as well as the teachers, coaches and others who help children. Heroes also can be ordinary citizens who see something that needs to be done and do it.
The inaugural Parade of Heroes is set to begin at 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 4, in front of the State College Municipal Building. The parade route will travel through downtown State College and across Penn State’s University Park campus to the Lewis Katz Building, home of Penn State Law. To download a map of the parade route, visit here.
The parade is the latest addition to the daylong, family-oriented, patriotic birthday party held July 4th on the east end of the University Park campus. The day starts with the annual 4th Fest Firecracker 4K race, which will begin at 9 a.m. Other activities include three venues of entertainment; a midway carnival with rides; a military equipment display; Operation Thank-You, where attendees can show appreciation to troops by signing a card or donating personal items; a behind-the-scenes pyrotechnics demonstration; and several other activities and attractions. For the full schedule, visit online.
Parking for the event will be in Lot Stadium West, Orange L at the Bryce Jordan Center, Lot Orange B (softball) and Lot 82 (East Halls). Beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 3, those lots will be closed and reserved for 4thFest parking. In addition, Lot 44, Lot Porter North and Lot Porter South will be reserved for 4thFest and State College Spikes parking. Early-bird parking for 4thFest opens at 8 a.m. July 4, with general parking opening at 9 a.m.
Curtin Road will be closed from Porter Road to University Drive on July 4 to accommodate pedestrian crowds at the event. In addition, the section of Curtin Road from University Drive to the entrance to the Wagner Building and Intramural Building parking lots will be closed due to construction. Access to these parking areas will be from Park Avenue through Orange B (softball) to the gravel access road leading into the Intramural Building parking lot. Also due to construction, the Shields Building parking lot will be unavailable for parking during 4thFest.
The Blue Loop and Red Link will not operate on July 4. CATA will operate the M, N, R and V routes. The only change will be a minor adjustment on the M Route Outbound. It normally travels Curtin to University Drive, but instead will travel Curtin to Bigler, Bigler to Hastings, Hastings to University Drive, and then resume normal routing. Complete bus route information is available at here or by calling 814-238-CATA (2282).
Central Pennsylvania 4thFest is organized by Central Pennsylvania July 4 Inc., a nonprofit organization with an all-volunteer board and leadership team. More than 500 volunteers and 220 sponsors contribute to the yearlong efforts to make the event happen. For more information, visit here.