For 31 years, the Rotary Club of the Abingtons has lit up the skies in celebration of our nation’s independence with fireworks at the Abington Heights Middle School.
The fireworks are a gift of the Rotary Club of the Abingtons to the people in our community. On July 2 our community came together to eat fun foods, wear funny hats, play and rejoice on the splendor of being an American.
Details for such an event started in the winter months with preparation for permits, police and fire protection, sponsors, vendors and workers to make the Fourth of July in the Abingtons a special night. As early as 5 p.m. families gathered to find the perfect parking spot for viewing. Some people go to the exact same spot every year, meeting the same families and sharing picnic suppers from their cars. Others know exactly what food tents they wish to visit and come prepared to taste the treats of the night either from a food truck or from a service club.
Children played throughout the school grounds in the early evening. Makeshift ball games happened on the grass. Light ropes were sported like necklaces and funny hats were seen on many party goers. Music for toe tapping was heard.
Corn on the cob roasted on a grill with the husks on, then shucked and dipped in butter was a favorite. Sausage and peppers, fresh squeezed lemonade, traditional hotdogs and hamburgers, funnel cakes, sodas and ice cream in addition to the specialty items of many food trucks made eating a priority.
Cars filled the hillside opposite the middle school. Patrolled by Rotarians and security, generous people paid $5 to park near the school. Others parked in the various country roads within a half mile of the school. Blankets and chairs were pulled from cars. All settled in for the local excitement.
The sun stayed long on the horizon, giving the last rays of sunshine on a perfect day. As twilight gently fell, the crowd stilled and waited for the darkness. In bursts of color the sky lit up with fireworks and “ooohs” and “aaaahs” could be heard from the crowd.
It was a big week for Rotary. Just three days before the fireworks, our officers changed. New people were inducted at our Installation Dinner. John Regula, our past president, turned the gavel over to the new president, Bruce Valentine. The evening was shared with family and friends in a spirit of fun and cooperation at the Ramada Inn.
Mayor Patricia Lawler was given the Rotary 4 Way Test Award for her outstanding service as a community leader. The award is given each year to someone who does not belong to Rotary but whose service is above self. The mayor’s service is way above self. Past President Warren Watkins presented the award to the mayor.
Our biggest celebration that night was the honoring of a Rotarian who has guided Rotary in so many ways since he joined our club in 1971. Howard Hyde, our 97-year-old, very active Rotarian was introduced by his Rotary friend, Gene Little. Ned Connell presented the story of Howard’s life to the assembly as Howard and his family looked on.
We have much to celebrate. The leadership of the mayor of Clarks Summit and the long standing quality of service of Howard Hyde deserved recognition by other Rotarians at an elegant dinner.
Our Independence Day celebrates our many freedoms at a community bash with fireworks in our town and throughout the USA. Perhaps these celebrations are best summed up in lyrics written by Katharine Lee Bates and music composed by Samuel A. Ward, published in The Congregationalist in 1895:
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.