By Geri Gibbons, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — Area residents flocked to Kirby Park on Tuesday celebrating Independence Day with food, music and, of course, fireworks.
The city’s event — billed as an “Old Fashioned” celebration — has become a rite of summer for some.
To David Koval, Mountain Top, and Marrissa Fedor, Hanover Township, both decked out in red, white and blue, the event had further meaning.
The two met this Memorial Day and began dating shortly afterward.
“She was dressed in red, white and blue when I met her,” Koval said. “And when I looked at her, I knew she was different.”
The two said they would be watching the evening’s fireworks display from a kayak on the river.
“It was a great day. From eating ice cream and pork barbecue to just enjoying being outside,” said Koval.
Bill Titus, Weatherly, made sure to save a spot in the park to get a good view of the fireworks.
“And, we wanted to make sure we were near the playground too,” added Megan Scott. “We wanted the kids, all five of them, to have a good time.”
Scott and Titus said they came with about 20 people.
“We’ll definitely be back next year,” said Titus.
Melvin and Sherry Harrison, Plymouth, also brought about 20 friends and family members.
“We have had the same spot for over 10 years,” said Melvin Harrison, taking time to reflect on how his family has grown since they first started coming to the Kirby Park celebration. “Now some have jobs and they just can’t come.”
This year, granddaughter Alaska Harrison, just 6 months old, joined the family for the first time.
Josh Mays, Edwardsville, carried an American flag through the event, to symbolize “that the holiday is not just about fireworks.”
“My friends and I are asking people if they know how many stars the flag has and who signed the Constitution,” said Mays
Rick Gawoiski, Wilkes-Barre, was watching bubbles sail through the air as he waited for the pyrotechnics to start.
“This year, I brought bubbles,” he said. “I always try to bring something fun. Some years, it’s hats.”
The event included the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic “Concert in the Park,” sponsored by the Martz Group.
Many attendees said they enjoyed the musical backdrop and timed their arrival with the opportunity to pull up a chair or blanket and enjoy the music.
Wilkes-Barre community police officer Robert Collins said police were on hand to ensure that everyone stayed safe and had a good time.
“I think that about 10,000 people came out today,” said Collins. “It’s been a good day.”
Mayor Tony George credited his staff, event sponsors and attendees with making the festivities a big success.
“There is no better way to commemorate the birth of our nation than to celebrate with members of our community,” George said in a press release announcing the Fourth of July party.