Last updated: July 02. 2014 1:12PM - 551 Views
By Eileen Christian Abington Journal Columnist



Eileen Christian
Eileen Christian
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The Rotary Club of the Abingtons will once again celebrate Independence Day with music, children’s amusements, fair foods and glorious fireworks on Friday, July 4at 5 p.m. The Abington Heights Middle School, 1555 Newton-Ransom Blvd., Clarks Summit, is the perfect local spot for this traditional celebration, where ample space is available for the many fun events planned. The live entertainment at this year’s event is being supported by the Abington Area Joint Recreation Board and the Overlook Estate Foundation.


Show parking is $5 per car and ample parking is available in designed show parking areas near the middle school.


Children’s activities will begin at 5 p.m. with a bouncy house provided by Sir Bounce-a lot. Other amusements will include a children’s slide and obstacle course. Face painting will be provided by the Abington Heights High School Interact Club, a teenage club for future Rotarians. The Rotary Club also is trying to recruit local celebs who will don bathing suits and climb into the event’s dunk tank.


Live music returns to the middle school, starting after 5 p.m. Clarks Summit’s own singer and songwriter, Paul LaQuintana, will entertain with his solo style of songs of the 70’s and beyond.


The four members of Beatles tribute band Fab Three will be the evening’s middle act. Band members are Jack Bordo, on guitar; Bobby Arvonio, who plays bass; Kevin Conway, on drums; and Jamie Van Wert, vocalist. Their style of music and dress pleases audiences whether at a local party or in a club.


Mace in Dickson will have toes tapping. Voted the “Best Local Band” for the past four years in the Abington Journal’s annual readers’ poll, this group has a loyal following. Kevin Conway, who plays drums for Mace in Dickson and also for Fab Three, will be busy that night.


Sarah Jane Williams is a featured soloist for the band, while multi-talented Danny Williams will be on keyboard as well as saxophone. Bass guitarist Brian Sarafinko and guitarists Dave Maciak and Mike Savro complete this energy-producing band as they bring harmonies and rhythms to their music.


If weather postpones the fireworks to July 5, the local band LightWeight will replace Mace in Dickson. LightWeight is the combination of two original duos. Katie Blake, lead vocalist and keyboardist and Michele Vasilenko were members of the original all-girl band, The Window Shoppers. They combined their talents with Joey O’Malley, vocalist and Matt Rinkunas, on bass to form this new, exciting entertainment. LightWeight covers hits from several decades, showing their wide range of musical ability and pleasing their ever growing audience.


Food, food, glorious food! In addition to Rotary’s own sales of ice cream and soda, funnel cakes, hot dogs, chicken speedies from the Abington Lions Club will be on sale. Mike Yogi’s Ethnic Foods will serve potato pancakes, haluski, pierogies and lemonade. Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches by Muncheeze and tacos from Southwest Savory Grill, as well as, cupcakes from Sweet Lush Cupcakery will tempt appetites. The now famous What the Fork food truck will be on hand as will Tony Thomas with fried sausage and pepper sandwiches and Webby’s Concession with fried Oreos. And Pizza by Fire will be turning out delicious wood-oven pizza.


Rotarian Fireworks Co-chairmen are attorney Roger Mattes, John Petry and John Hambrose and they’ve been capably assisted in planning the event by a strong and dedicated group of Abington Rotarians. A small army of club members and friends will be involved in setting up, conducting and cleaning up after the event this week.


Early Beginnings


The first fireworks display in Clarks Summit celebrated the 75th anniversary of the borough, 28 years ago. When the event was completed, Rotarian Bill Christian, now deceased, decided Clarks Summit could be a destination place for Fourth of July activities for future years. In 1986, with our family and friends as workers, the second fireworks display took place.


Bill had grandiose schemes in mind for the event. He wanted the event to have all-day fun activities. That year we supervised bubble gum blowing contests; kite flying, (a total disaster with no wind at all on that day); a three-legged race using burlap bags on a roughly marked course and pony rides. Live music filled the airways. Any local band who wanted to perform could do so. For some of those musicians, it was a first public appearance. Some bands were great. Other bands were more developmental. All were welcomed and applauded by the show’s growing audience. As that day wore on, more and more families arrived with picnic baskets and folding chairs. We were surprised when the hillside was filled with cars parked at random and the grass was covered with every kind of blanket.


Bill had contacted a newly-formed company, which was producing the black powder for fireworks display. Somehow he convinced them to put on a show and they did. They were the Val-Et Company, out of Old Forge.


Roger Mattes, co-chair of the 2014 Fourth, was at that homemade celebration in 1986. We had not thought to ask for bathrooms or lights at the Middle School, so as the night darkened, Roger, along with my children, Drew and Laura, an 85- year-old neighbor, and I were cooking hot dogs on a charcoal grill with no lights and short tongs. With no way to see what we were doing, people actually paid for either burned or raw hot dogs. The night was a grand success. No one got food poisoning.


The following year, more friends joined our family to put on the Fourth. That year several of us cooked wimpies in large pots and brought them to a table for sale. I had refused to do the hot dogs the second year. As my husband, Bill, again began his schemes for the third year of begging friends and family to join us, I put my foot down and said, “let’s ask the Rotary to do this, they are an army of workers.” Rotary stepped up and for the past 25 years have consistently put on quite a show.


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