COLUMNS

Finding fireworks

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

When we moved to Greencastle, I often found myself driving on Highway 40 through Hagerstown, MD. As the Fourth of July approached that year, I noticed a large banner hanging from the railroad bridge over 40.

The banner promoted fireworks at the Fairgrounds Park (http://www.hagerstownmd.org/Calendar.aspx?EID=229). Because we didn’t know of any other options, we made plans to go there.

We soon learned that Greencastle residents can drive a short distance in three directions to view fireworks displays not only in Hagerstown, MD, but also in either Waynesboro or Chambersburg, PA.

Pretty good for a small town.

On that first Independence Day in Greencastle, we got into our Suburban and drove in the direction of the Fairgrounds Park. We found a parking spot several blocks from the entrance and worked our way through the crowds to the park.

On our way, we passed mini-celebrations in yards and at businesses. We stopped at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church (http://clchurch-online.com/) for free hot dogs and popcorn. And upon entering the park, we noticed that there were plenty of spots available to enjoy the view.

We set up some camping chairs and enjoyed conversation and laughter until the show started.

Our view was great. The show was wonderful. And when our toddler started crying due to the sound, I merely wheeled his stroller to the friendly Lutheran church, where the members allowed us to watch from the quietness of their sanctuary.

It was a great night.

Only twice since living here have we not gone to Hagerstown for the Fourth. One year my family was helping host a large group at Camp Joy El (http://www.joyelcamps.org/). After finishing the evening dishes we climbed Joy El’s observation tower and discovered that we could see distant fireworks in all directions. It was awesome.

Another year, a sick child kept half the family home. Because of timing, I decided to try the closer Waynesboro fireworks. While I appreciated all the festivities and could see why people would return year after year, the only spot I could find was behind a tree, and the fireworks display was underwhelming compared to our past Hagerstown experiences.

So we return to Hagerstown every year, seemingly with more and more friends. Tonight we’re taking a busload of available staff members from Camp Joy El, plus meeting others there.

No matter how many people we bring, no matter how late we arrive, so far we have always found parking in the same place, and we have never lacked for an excellent view.

So, happy Independence Day (it’s a much bigger deal than fireworks)! And enjoy your celebration!