What an awesome 4th of July weekend! With temperatures in the high 70’s and nighttime lows in the high 50’s, it provided the perfect backdrop for Ellwood City’s Annual Arts and Crafts Festival. Our town of about 8,000 residents hosts a three day Festival that attracts over 22,000 visitors! For weeks in advance, hedges are trimmed, flowers planted, and homes are draped in bunting of red, white and blue. Welcome candles light every window. Yes, that’s traditional here in Western Pennsylvania and I love it!
High School Reunions are scheduled to coincide with the Festival and often there is more visiting done this weekend than shopping. The Library Director mans the Rotary Booth taking orders for hot sausage sandwiches and gyros. Parishioners dish up the specialties from their churches. The air is heavy with the fragrance of the wonderful variety of ethnic foods our area is home to. No one goes away hungry.
Concerts dot the schedule of the Festival. The Sanctuary Jazz Band pulls in a crowd! There’s folk music, rock, and country – something for every taste and age. People bring lawn chairs and spend the day. And, by the way, you can leave your lawn chairs unattended. No one would think of taking them. Bagpipes pierce the air and draw a crowd around our young native piper who has won competitions all over the world. He lives in Tennessee now but still returns for this weekend every year to pipe for family and friends.
Sunday morning Ellwood City’s Ministerium hosted a community service in the park. Over 500 people gathered: Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Catholics, and non-denominational members! We sang and worshipped as one, choosing to emphasize our similarities rather than capitalize on our differences.
Sunday night was crowned with a Zambelli Fireworks Display! Fans jammed the stands of the football stadium and parked on every high point in town to watch the spectacle. Blankets dotted the field below the old Catholic School. Kids scampered after the glittering fireflies, which provided a Pre-Fireworks show. Then, suddenly sparkling dots of fire lit up the sky! I watched a veteran raise his hands to cover his mouth as red, white, and blue explosions burst above us in the night. I saw tears stream down his face and my eyes filled with tears, too.
I’m so proud of my town and my country! I’m thankful to live where I can raise my voice without fear of censor and vote for the men and women who guide our country. I am so very proud to be an American!