Gary Schatz, the trained fireworks pyrotechnican with decades of experience who will be heading up the team of people creating this year's fireworks display in Marietta, said that it will be the largest show Marietta has ever set off. Fireworks had been a staple of Marietta's annual Independence Day celebration since 1960, and now, after a two-year hiatus, Schatz and several other community members have worked together to bring that back. T-shirts emblazoned with "Bring Back Marietta Fireworks" were sold to raise awareness and funds, and volunteer Lauralee Baker said that area businesses and individuals have been exceedingly generous in supporting the effort. "It really is amazing the enthusiasm, and it amazes me how people in the town have joined together to do this," remarked Baker.
The fireworks will begin at approximately 9:15 p.m. on Saturday, June 30, following a patriotic celebration in the Marietta War Memorial Park, 344 E. Walnut St., Marietta. Schatz estimated that the fireworks will last approximately 30 minutes and will include a large opening, a ground show, a rapid-fire memorial barrage, and a grand finale.
Area residents are invited to bring lawn chairs and blankets for seating in Marietta War Memorial Park and to take part in the festivities leading up to the fireworks display as well.
A cornhole tournament will kick things off at 2 p.m. Teams of two may register for a set fee, and trophies will be awarded to the top three teams. The custom cornhole boards that will be used for the competition will be part of a giveaway following the tournament. Registration on the day of the event will begin at 1 p.m., or folks may sign up in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 717-426-3741.
Area food trucks and vendors will have plenty of delicious food and beverages available for folks to purchase, including funnel cakes, pulled pork barbecue, beef brisket, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, french fries, gyros, pizza, ice cream, and more. The Marietta Pioneer Fire Company will also be selling concession items.
At 7 p.m., local news anchor and master of ceremonies Corinne Lillis will lead a tribute to local first responders and military veterans. Veterans of the Korean, Vietnam, Iraq, and other wars will be commemorated by military speakers from the Navy Club of Lancaster Ship 166 - Charter 1940. Patriotic music will be performed by the Susquehanna Stage Company and the Donegal Alumni Band. The three winners of the "What Independence Day Means to Me" essay contest for fifth- and sixth-graders at Donegal Intermediate School will read their essays.
Among the veterans being honored will be World War II and Korean War veteran Ben Thompson, who served his country in the United States Air Force from 1942 to 1972. During WWII, Thompson served in the European Theater of Organizations (ETO) under the command of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. His primary occupation was in the communications field as a radio operator/gunner on a B-24 bomber. During his military career, Thompson also had overseas service in Greenland, Korea, Bermuda, Saudi Arabia, and the Republic of Congo (Zaire). Thompson received numerous honors for his service, including the Air Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one silver star, WWII Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal with one bronze star, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Prisoner of War Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with one silver star, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Korean Service Medal with three bronze stars, United Nations Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Award, NCO Academy Ribbon, and Korean War Service Medal. Thompson is also a former mayor of Marietta.
In the case of inclement weather, the fireworks will be postponed to Saturday, July 7.