Lehigh Valley basks in patriotic glow of Independence Day celebrations

Lehigh Valley basks in patriotic glow of Independence Day celebrations

 By Brett Dworski, Tribune Brand Publishing

The images that come to mind when we think of Independence Day are wrapped in patriotism and healthy doses of red, white and blue. After all, standard Fourth of July fare includes Uncle Sam, marching bands, American flags, a good cover band and anything else that embodies the spirit of the United States. 

Like, say, fireworks. "To me, the Fourth of July is all about the big booms," says Aaron Smith, 71, a former Allentown resident who spends his winters in Florida. "My wife and I make the trip back to Pennsylvania each summer to see our daughter in Philadelphia but we always make sure we’re here for July 4."

Smith isn't the only one. Brenda Evans says she's planning on attending Allentown's July 4 celebration outside J. Birney Crum Stadium this year. "We always find a good fireworks show," Evans says. "It's something we do with our kids every July 4. It's kind of the center of our summer."

Evans says her daughters, ages 10 and 12, may be finally past the practice of holding their ears when the fireworks begin. "For years, they'd duck under their blankets and miss the entire thing," she says. "Last year, the oldest was fine. But our youngest only peeked out a couple times. I kept telling her she was missing quite a show so she assures me that this year, she's going to watch the entire thing."

That's advice Smith can endorse. "Fireworks on the Fourth of July," he says. "That's about as American as you can get."

If you're looking to get your patriotism on this July 4, take a look at what's available this year in Allentown and the surrounding areas. Whether you live here or you're just visiting, prepare to celebrate America's 238th birthday in style with these local events:

Fourth on the Field
July 4
Coca-Cola Park, 1050 IronPigs Way, Allentown, Pa.
$6, children 2 and under admitted free; parking, $3
$6, children 2 and under admitted free; parking, $3
Information: (610) 841-7447; Ironpigsbaseball.com

There will be nothing minor about Lehigh Valley's minor league baseball team's fireworks celebration this year. In fact, the IronPigs say this year's fireworks display will be the largest in Coca-Cola Park's history. The "Fourth on the Field" event begins at 6 p.m. and will feature food, drinks and live music, with the celebration culminating at 9 p.m. with more than enough fireworks to make the Allentown sky awash in a rainbow of hues.


Allentown's Red, White & Blue 4th of July Celebration
July 4, 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Linden Street, between J. Birney Crum Stadium and Cedar Beach, Allentown, Pa.
(610) 437-7757

Celebrate Independence Day with live music, food, drinks, a skydiving exhibition, face painting and of course, your traditional fireworks show. A street festival will take place outside the stadium, so spectators can fuel up before finding the perfect vantage point inside or outside of the stadium to watch the skies light up to celebrate America's birthday.


Skirmish Paintball – Independence Day Special
July 4, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
211 N. Meckesville Rd., Albrightsville, Pa.
(570) 325-3654; http://www.skirmish.com/

Want to celebrate the Fourth with intense, physical activities - and perhaps a little bit of pain as well? Skrimish Paintball in Albrightsville has its Independence Day Special, where each participant plays all day for $17.76. Red, white and blue paintballs are optional.


Reading of the Declaration of Independence
When: July 4, 10 a.m.
: George Taylor House, 35 S. Front St., Catasauqua, Pa.
Information: http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/delaware/tay.htm

Residents of Catasauqua assemble on the front lawn of the former home of George Taylor, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, every July 4 for a reading of the Declaration of Independence. The event includes a concert by the Antebellum Marine Band, tours of the home and an Honor Guard salute from American Legion Post 215.


Buffalo Hot Dog Eating Contest & Chili Cook-off
July 4, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Rising Sun Inn, 898 Allentown Rd., Franconia, Pa
Information: (215) 721-6350; http://www.risingsuninn.net

What's more American than eating hot dogs and chili at a place called the Rising Sun Inn? Join in the 2014 Buffalo Hot Dog Eating Contest and Chili Cook-off. Participation is free and open to all ages. The winner takes home $250. For the spectating non-glutton-OK, gluttons are welcome, too-there will be food and drink specials, including plenty of burgers, dogs and beer.


Philly's Fourth of July Jam Concert and Grand Finale Fireworks:
July 4, 12 p.m. – 11 p.m.
: Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, Pa.
Information: (215) 763-8100; http://www.visitphilly.com/events/philadelphia/july-4th-festival-concert-and-fireworks/

Known as the "largest free concert in America," Philly's Fourth of July Jam Concert fills the streets surrounding Benjamin Franklin Parkway each year with the sounds of summer. This year's concert will be hosted by comedian Kevin Hart, and will feature performances from John Mayer, The Roots, Jill Scott, J. Cole and others. The evening ends with a spectacular firework show over the Philadelphia Art Museum.


65th Annual Kutztown Folk Festival
When: June 28 – July 6
Kutztown Fairgrounds, 225 N. Whiteoak St., Kutztown, Pa.
Information: (888) 674-6136; http://www.kutztownfestival.com/

Take a stroll through the oldest folk-life festival in the country this summer at the Kutztown Folk Festival. The nine-day festival features live music, comedy, spoken word and other performances. For $14 a day (children 12 and under for free), you can explore the traditions of Pennsylvania, experiencing everything from baking bread in a 19th century oven to watching a re-enactment of a 19th -century hanging. Be there on July 4 for an 11:30 parade.


37th Annual Heritage Day
July 13
Centre Square, Easton, Pa.
More information:

A little busy on the Fourth of July? Then we have an event for you. Think of the Easton Heritage Day is an annual history lesson on Pennsylvania's role in the American Revolution. One of the day’s highlights is the reading of the Declaration of Independence that took place in Easton's Great Square on July 8, 1776. You can also be on hand for several other events, including colonial reenactments, century-old church tours and a visit to a Civil War encampment. 

Categories: Community Events
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