WILKES-BARRE — If you set out to watch one of the area’s huge professional fireworks displays this week, you might simply want to ooh and aah as colors light up the sky.
Or you might want to honor the patriots who signed the Declaration of Independence 242 years ago on July 4, 1776. Or the brave men and women who serve in the military today.
You might also enjoy a burst of kinship with everyone else who’s come to see the spectacle.
“It’s kind of nice to have people come together and appreciate being part of a community,” Stephanie Jennings, 25, of Nanticoke, said last week. “Just for that half hour or so, it’s like nothing else is going on in the world. Everybody’s friends.”
Professional fireworks will light up the sky this week at Wilkes-Barre’s Kirby Park and various other venues ranging from Hazleton’s City View Park to Scranton’s Courthouse Square to Jim Thorpe’s Memorial Park and Mountain Top’s Wright Township Park.
Pittston resident Claire Newhart, for one, wishes more people would admire those professional pyrotechnics at stadiums and parks and refrain from setting off their own amateur — yet still very loud and potentially dangerous — fireworks in neighborhoods.
“I feel sorry for my dog,” said Newhart, 26. “She wants to hide in the cellar. That’s where she goes when she’s scared.”
In addition to having fireworks displays at dusk, several communities start this week’s celebrations earlier with food, family-friendly games and entertainment ranging from patriotic concerts to a potato sack race.
Close to home, Wilkes-Barre’s Old-Fashioned Fourth of July celebration kicks off at noon July 4 at Kirby Park with food vendors, craft vendors, amusement rides and games. The re-organized band The Starfires — who first formed in the 1950s and played with such artists as Chubby Checker, Frankie Valli and Bobby Goldsboro — will perform from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
At dusk, Skyshooter Displays of Wapwallopen will start the fireworks display, which is sponsored by Mohegan Sun Pocono.
“We are excited to be a part of the Wilkes-Barre annual Fourth of July firework celebration for a second year, as the exclusive sponsor this July,” Mohegan Sun Pocono president and CEO Anthony Carlucci said through an email. “It is a night out for families and friends in our community to relax, have fun and view the spectacular firework show.”
Other fireworks displays around the region — set for Tuesday through Saturday — include:
Abington Heights Middle School, 1555 Newton Ransom Blvd., Clarks Summit, at dusk July 3 with rain date of July 4. A $5 parking fee helps defray the cost. Festivities begin at 4 p.m. with food and amusement vendors.
Jim Thorpe Stay at Home Festival, 3 to 10 p.m. July 7 at Jim Thorpe Memorial Park, 101 East Tenth St., Jim Thorpe. Amusements include a mechanical bull, rock climbing, a potato sack race, blueberry pie eating contest and more. Fireworks to begin after dark, rain or shine.
Tunkhannock Memorial Stadium, 135 Tiger Drive (off business Route 6), Tunkhannock, at dusk July 3. Music by Popstar Drive from 7 p.m. until fireworks.
Scrantastic Spectacular, Courthouse Square, Scranton, free. Opens at 4 p.m. July 3 with amusements, rides, food and local bands. Northern Appalachian Wind Symphony begins concert at 7 p.m., followed by fireworks at dusk.
Wright Township Park, 321 South Mountain Blvd. (Route 309) Mountain Top, at 9:45 p.m. July 3. Rain date is July 5.
PNC Field, Moosic, July 4 following Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders baseball game vs. Buffalo Bisons. Game begins at 7:05 p.m.
Over Lake Wallenpaupack, at approximately 9:30 p.m. July 4. Parking and seating at Wallenpaupack Area High School, 2552 Route 6, Hawley. Bold Gold Media’s Classic Hits 105.3 will broadcast patriotic music during the show. Donations gladly accepted. Rain date is July 5.
City View Park, 700 South Poplar Street, Hazleton, at dusk July 3. Event opens at 4 p.m. with amusements and entertainment. No rain date.
Crispin Field, North Mulberry St., Berwick, at dusk July 4, following a 7 p.m. concert of patriotic music on the Jackson Mansion lawn, 344 Market St. Celebration starts at 10:30 a.m. at the mansion lawn. Veterans will march from Nescopeck and present the colors; free pizza, drinks and ice cream will be served.
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT.