WILKES-BARRE – Looking at Kirby Park on Sunday, one would believe it was actually the 4th of July.
From the vendors and rides to up beat celebratory music provided by the Starfires, everything was business as usual for the annual Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration, sponsored by Mohegan Sun, which was postponed Wednesday due to inclement weather.
With crowds were already amassed by 8 p.m., John Balucha and his family were already in their prime seats. A tradition for the Kingston resident is to place himself in the front row of the display.
“Just to get the view of the ground fireworks display and the aerial view really,” he said of why he enjoys the spot.
Balucha’s mother, Mary Ann, has been attending the event for half a century. She explained the seats are important for her to snag, so she doesn’t miss a beat. As for the postponement of the event, the 75-year-old said she understood the need for the city to reschedule.
In front of the pavilion, Luzerne resident Patrice Mulhern was busy enjoying the music of the Starfires.
“Both of us are really big music buffs,” she admitted, taking a brake from dancing to the band’s rendition of “Louie Louie.” “We just really wanted to get out here, hear some live music, grab a blanket and experience the fireworks.”
The Starfires wowed the crowd by playing favorites before honoring each branch of the military with its own hymn. Shortly before sparks of red, white and blue flew into the sky they began playing patriotic music, using “Proud to be an American” to set off the barrage of fireworks.
Many attendees and vendors alike agreed that moving the event to Sunday was the right call. Diana Gaglione, an employee of Inner Crazy Body Art, explained that the airbrush and face-painting stand was still up Wednesday; however, there wasn’t much of a crowd to paint.
“Wednesday it was pretty much dead – even before it started raining,” she said. “Even today, it didn’t get busy until after 5.”
However, there were plenty of children lined up to get painted by 8 p.m., and Gaglione was more than happy to assist. She was glad the city decided to switch the event to Sunday, as well as welcome vendors and the entertainment back.
“If they didn’t do anything then we would’ve lost money,” she said.
However, not all attendees were happy about moving the event to a Sunday.
Jeanann Owen has been attending the event for over a decade. While she enjoys the fireworks, the Nanticoke resident wished the city picked a different day to hold the annual crowd-pleaser.
“It was a bad call,” she insisted, explaining that many residents have to return to work tomorrow, whereas many either already had Thursday off or took off work to recuperate from the holiday. “If you were going to move it because of the rain I get that, but it should have been a Friday or Saturday.”
Owen did admit to loving some good old family picnic time before the sky lit up.
“I do like sitting out there with the kids on the grass,” she added. “It’s my favorite time.”
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