Here’s a holiday big bang theory: You need only four elements to have fun on the Fourth of July: family, food, the Philharmonic and fireworks.
All four are guaranteed for the traditional Old-Fashioned Fourth of July, set for noon to 10 p.m. today in Kirby Park, as Wilkes-Barre gets ready to celebrate its 34th annual event.
Food and craft vendors and amusement-park rides will line the park for those looking to get an early start on the fun. Hot dogs, hamburgers, lemonade and sno cones — all the longtime favorites — are on the menu.
The Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic will perform at 7:30 p.m. followed by a fireworks display at dusk. Those attending should bring a lawn chair or blanket to better enjoy the day.
Liza Prokop, special events coordinator, said the city expects about 25,000 people to attend the festivities. “A lot of people spend the entire day at Kirby Park,” she said. “They come early to eat and ride the rides and get a good spot. So many people come back each year that they already have their favorite spot in the park and like to make sure they will get it again.”
Patriotic music once again will fill the park in a “Salute to America” when the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic takes the stage at 7:30 p.m., directed by Lawrence Loh. He will be assisted by Michelle Merrill. Katy Williams will return this year. She is a soloist who has performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Pittsburgh Opera. Guest conductor will be W. Brooke Yeager.
Musical selections for the 90-minute performance will include traditional patriotic music, including “The Star Spangled Banner,” “Armed Forces Salute,” “Sing Out America!,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “God Bless America” with vocalist Katy Williams and Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.”
While Wilkes-Barre follows the same basic Fourth format each year, Prokop said, some new craft vendors will attend.
For the seventh consecutive year, the Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn Fund for Children’s Advocacy, also known as HKQ Kids, will give away free bicycle helmets to hundreds of Northeastern Pennsylvania children as part of its efforts to promote child safety. Helmets will be distributed from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The helmet giveaway has proven a popular Fourth activity. Children are required to be 12 or under and accompanied by an adult to receive a helmet. All helmets distributed by HKQ Kids meet U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission standards, and each helmet comes equipped with a user’s manual and CPSC label of certification.
Since HKQ Kids started the helmet program in 2008, the organization founded by personal-injury attorney Joe Quinn of the law firm of Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn has equipped more than 6,400 children with free bike helmets. Last year, HKQ Kids gave away more than 1,300 helmets and is planning to stock another 1,300 this year to meet the expected demand.
“Our entire law firm looks forward to this event every year,” HKQ spokeswoman attorney Michelle M. Quinn said. “It’s great to meet so many wonderful families in our community and know that we are doing our part to keep their children safe.”