Hershey's Maria Lutheran Church will celebrate Independence Day a few days early, on Sunday, June 30, with a free fireworks display at nightfall. The fireworks continues a tradition that started seven years ago in 2006 when Maria Lutheran celebrated its 100th anniversary.
The fireworks are held the weekend before July 4th, so as not to compete with Sutherland's July 4th celebration.
As the celebration continued after 2006 and more people came, rural Hershey resident Tom Brown stepped up to pay for the fireworks and the meat for a potluck meal.
The celebration is put on by volunteers, with church members setting up music and meal at the park, and Hershey volunteer fireman setting off the display of large fireworks, with a fire truck ready just in case.
Maria Lutheran Church is north of the Hershey Main St. intersection on U.S. Highway 30.
A Red Wagon parade is held for children, but participation has decreased so church members are making sure there will be a fun jump and volleyball net in the adjoining park. That, plus playground equipment at the park will make it a great family event, organizers say.
The meal begins at 7 p.m. Brats, burgers, and beverages are provided. Attendees are asked to bring a side dish, salad or dessert to share. Fireworks begin at dusk.
Please bring a lawn chair and mosquito repellent.
Fireworks are also visible from the Hershey ball fields, with parking for cars.
Brown has faithfully paid the expenses of the hour-long fireworks display for more than five years at a cost of about $1,000 a year. He loves providing fireworks for the enjoyment of his church and community, organizers say.