People from all parts of the region came together Friday, to enjoy food, drink, music and good company at Independence Day parties big and small.
Many couples, families and friends flocked to Kirby Park to celebrate the patriotic holiday. One group from the Pottsville area represented all three.
The group of eight said they drove about an hour to get to Kirby, because they know from experience that the park is the place to be on Independence Day. They said they claimed their spot — in clear view of the evening’s concert — at 12:30 p.m., marking it with blankets, lawn-chairs, coolers and food. They had no plans of leaving until after the fireworks.
Louis Domday, of Port Carbon, said he expected the park would soon be packed with people, and his group wouldn’t be getting home until close to midnight.
“But you know what, it’ll be worth it,” Christine Schwartz said.
“If it wasn’t worth it,” Domday said. “I wouldn’t have come.”
Although the other members of her group had been to Kirby Park before, Schwartz, of Pottsville, said it was her first time.
Vendors and carnival games lined the paved walkway through the park, selling fried food and the chance at winning a prize.
The gang from the Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn Fund for Children’s Advocacy wasn’t selling anything.
For the seventh year in a row, HKQ Kids gave away free helmets to children 12 years old and younger. Sue Greenfield took a break after fitting a little girl with a pink helmet dotted with flowers.
“We literally went from 11 0’clock until ten-to-three nonstop,” Greenfield said. “It’s never happened like that.”
She said all the kids she fitted were thrilled with their new helmets, and couldn’t wait to wear them.
“Some wore them home,” she said.
Greenfield’s reprieve was short-lived, though, and she hurried back to work as another eager round of children began lining up.
Meanwhile, folks in Wilkes-Barre Township held a somewhat more personal celebration of their own at Kennedy Park.
Mayor Carl Kuren called the annual event “an old-fashioned Fourth of July block party.”
“They used to have parties like this in the 50s and 60s,” he said. “Everybody knows everybody.”
The event featured fireworks, a small village of bounce houses and live, local music from the Stonecats Duo as well as the band Liar Liar.
Mary Jane and Tim Hunter, of Wilkes-Barre Township, sat with some friends and their daughter just outside the main event. Tim Hunter said it was a nice spot to relax, watch the fireworks and not worry about bumping into people when the park gets packed.
They both said they prefer the tight-knit atmosphere of the Kennedy Park party over the larger celebration at Kirby Park. And in recent years, Mary Jane Hunter said, its come to serve as a summer reunion, replacing bygone church bazaars.
“We live two blocks from here. This is home,” she said.