Attending 4thFest

Is there a cost to attend?

There is no cost to enjoy the day’s entertainment and spectacular fireworks display. We do request a donation of $10 per car for general parking, and we also offer VIP Viewing Passes and Parking at affordable prices (with all proceeds going to support the event) for those who want the best seats available.

The event is run completely by the almost 550 volunteers of a non-profit organization. To cover our costs and allow the event to happen, we encourage businesses and individuals to help with financial donations and volunteers.

What should I bring?

  • Your smiles of appreciation for all the volunteers that work hard all year to organize this family community event.
  • If you will be watching the fireworks outside the VIP Viewing Area, bring a radio to broadcast the music to the fireworks choreography for every one to hear (a sound system is provided in the VIP Viewing Area).
  • Lawn chair or blanket since no seating is provided.
  • Flashlights and maybe rain gear on an inclement evening.
  • A trash bag to help keep the area clean.
  • Your friends and family.
  • Patience when driving to and from the event.

What should you leave at home?

  • Fireworks, sparklers and glass containers that will harm the animals that normally graze in the parking fields. Everyone should be especially sensitive to leaving these injurious materials behind.
  • Charcoal grills.

Alcohol, fireworks and pets are
prohibited within the VIP Viewing Area.

What time do the activities start?

  • The Firecracker 4K Run starts at 9:00 AM.
  • The parade will start from the State College Municipal Building at 2:00pm.
  • Some games and food vendors will begin to operate around 2:00pm. All entertainment and concessions will be in full operation by 4:00pm.
  • Many concessions will remain open after the fireworks to coincide with the street dance.
  • The Giant Flag Birthday Cake will be served at 6:00 PM.
  • Please see the the Entertainment Schedule and our Activities and Concessions page for more details.

What kind of family activities will be available before the fireworks begin?

Our event is family oriented by design. Please check the Entertainment schedule and the Activities and Concessions page for more information about the activities, food vendors, and performances. From the BMX shows to Roller Derby, musical acts, and children’s activities, you will surely find fun things for the whole family to enjoy. Since we are celebrating our nation’s birthday you can expect to find a Giant birthday cake, thousands of hot dogs and many smiling faces!

How many attend the event?

This daylong event attracts 60,000 – 80,000 people to the Penn State Campus while thousands more view the fireworks display from remote locations and back yards throughout the region.

Will I need to purchase a ticket for my small child if we wish to sit in the VIP Viewing area?

Children 4 and under accompanied by an adult with a VIP Viewing pass may enter the VIP Viewing area for free. Please be aware that because of the closer proximity to the fireworks that ear protection is recommended for infants and very young children.

Where can I find an ATM during the 4thFest?

ATMs can be found in the lobby of the Visitor’s Center until 6:00 PM, at Off The Rack Outfitters/Medlar Field and at the Bryce Jordan Center.

About the Fireworks

How many fireworks shells do you shoot?

We anticipate over 10,830 shells will be fired during the 45-minute show. The grand finale is always very impressive. This year, with a wave of the wand, the finale promises to be even more spectacular with a heart pounding 27 shells per second. The 4th Fest is the largest all volunteer fireworks display in the nation.

How long is the fireworks display?

This year’s fireworks display is scheduled to last about 45 minutes but the memories will last a lifetime.

When did the choreographed fireworks begin in State College?

Choreographed fireworks have been done in State College since 1994. Over the years the event has become a regional one, and has gained recognition on a national scale. The Wall Street Journal ranked the State College show as one of the Ten Largest Displays in the United States in 1999. The Travel Channel and ranked the show #4 In The World in 2000! An international fireworks website has ranked 4thFest as the 3rd biggest/best 4th of July fireworks in the US. Please read the 4thFest history for more information.

Will I be able to view the fireworks from Medlar Field?

The ballpark will offer limited sight viewing of the 2015 fireworks show. People who view the fireworks from within the ballpark will probably miss the ground and special effects which make up approximately 35% of the show. The better viewing will be from home plate to right field as the rest of the stadium will have an obstructed sight line. Unfortunately, due to the terrain, the scoreboard and other obstructions could still interfere with some of the fireworks viewing.

What will happen with inclement weather?

Our intention will be to shoot the fireworks even in inclement weather. We have successfully launched the fireworks in mild rain to heavy downpours over the years. With the audience in attendance and the fireworks field prepared to go we will do everything within our control to enjoy the spectacular fireworks on the 4th of July. Should we incur heavy lightening or strong winds we may have to delay the show temporarily until the weather passes.

Parking and VIP Viewing

Where can I park and what time will the lots be open?

General parking opens at 9am. Early bird parking opens at 8:00am. A $10.00 per car donation is requested. Cars will be directed to lots at the discretion of police as determined by traffic conditions.

For more detailed information on parking, please visit our Parking page.

Is there a charge to park?

We do request a donation of $10 per car for general admission parking. The event is run completely by volunteers of a non-profit organization. To cover our costs and make the event happen, we encourage business and individuals to make donations if possible and/or get involved. You can find more information about parking on our Parking page.

What is VIP viewing and parking?

If you want to experience the fireworks and see and feel the spectacular ground effects at their best, a special viewing area is reserved on the east side of Porter Road for VIP Viewing Pass holders. Every year, thousands of people watch the fireworks show and special ground effects from this up-close, special vantage point. For more information, or to purchase VIP Viewing and VIP Parking passes, please read VIP Viewing Area and Parking.

Location of Events

Where exactly is the 4thFest held?

The 4thFest is located on the campus of Penn State University. Specifically the activities and fireworks are held in the vicinity of Beaver Stadium, the Bryce Jordan Center and Medlar Field.

Show me directions to 4thFest

Where is the Information Booth and Merchandising Tent?

The 4thFest Information/Merchandising Tent is located on Curtin Road.

Where is the VIP Viewing area?

The VIP Viewing Area is located in a grassy area east of the Centre County Convention & Visitors Bureau just above Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. This area which typically holds over 8,000 people will provide an up close, head on viewing of the center of the fireworks show. This is perfect unobstructed viewing for the entire fireworks show including the ground and special effects. People who are not in the VIP area will miss much of the ground and special effects as they are designed to be set off and remain lighted close to the ground. In July 2007 we introduced a concert quality sound system to the VIP area to compliment the choreographed fireworks show.

Where are the Corporate Tailgate Media tents?

They’re located in front of the BJC main ticket office.

General Questions

I have a question, who can I contact?

There is an information booth located outside the BJC where you can ask questions and get assistance.

How much time does it take to put the event together?

Our 580 volunteers spend nearly 13,000 MAN-HOURS planning, developing and executing the event. Committees work year round on fund raising, building fireworks set pieces, choosing entertainment, developing an operational plan, promoting the event and choreographing the fireworks show.

Who organizes the event?

The volunteers of the Central Pa 4th Fest. The volunteers are your friends, colleagues and neighbors who make up the Board of Directors and the many committees that organize the event. The entire community as well as those who attend on the 4th contribute the funding necessary to make the event possible. These dedicated people work year round to make the event a success. We always need volunteers to help with all phases of event planning and day of event management. Please consider volunteering your skills and time. This is a fun team to be associated with.

Will you have 4thFest merchandise available for purchase?

We have a limited number 4thFest logo T-shirts (unisex and children), as well as other patriotic themed souvenirs for purchase. All proceeds will go to supporting the event.

What about "Lost and Found" items?

With the number of people who attend the 4thFest a few items manage to get lost or found. You can take lost and found items to the Information booth on the 4th. You can also check for lost and found items at the Pyrotechnics trailer parked behind Medlar Field on July 5 and 6th until 6 PM. You can inquire about items by calling the 4thFest Pyrotechnics field office at 814-441-3944 until July 6th at 6:00PM. After July 6th at 6:00PM all lost and found items will be turned over to The Penn State Police Office on the ground level of the Eisenhower Parking deck. You can reach this communication office by calling 814-863-1111. Standard Penn State lost & found policy will apply.

Supporting the Event

How much does it cost to operate the 4thFest?

Fireworks are a major expense but the budget also covers advertising, equipment, insurance, operations, security/safety and site costs. We also receive an equal amount of in-kind contributions as well as free volunteer labor. If we didn’t have the great community spirit of business contributions and nearly 12,000 volunteer hours the cost would be much, much more. Learn more about Sponsorship Opportunities or Individual Donations.

Can I make a donation?

The Central Pennsylvania 4th Fest is an all-volunteer non-profit organization that depends on the financial support of companies and individuals in the Centre Region. Monies received are used to offset the costs of fireworks, celebration events, insurances, permits, security/safety and other costs associated with the celebration.

Sponsorship Opportunities:

Sponsors make an event of this size possible. Learn more about Sponsorship Opportunities.

Donations by Credit Card:

We offer PayPal as a convenient way to make a credit card donation. Please consider giving $10, $25, $50 or more.


Donations by Check:

Send your check to:

Central Pennsylvania July 4th, Inc. PO Box 11122 State College, PA 16805-1122

Donations insert in the Centre Daily Times:

Local residents and subscribers can expect to find a donation appeal inserted in the Centre Daily Times on July 5th.

Donations from general admission parking, VIP parking, and VIP viewing account for about 15% of 4thFest income. You can also help by purchasing souvenir items such as our 4thFest wearables, or making a donation in any of the donation barrels at the event.

How can I volunteer?

With an all-volunteer staff, there are many tasks and jobs for individuals or groups. We encourage church groups, Boy or Girl Scout troops or any civic organization to participate and help out with one of the largest all-volunteer 4th of July celebrations in the country.

Please visit the Volunteer Opportunities page for more information.