HERMITAGE — Ryan Voisey used to just watch the fireworks at Buhl Park.
Now in his first year as the park’s director of recreation, Voisey gets to help organize Sunday’s annual Light Up the Sky display in partnership with the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“The community looks forward to this event,” he said. “It’s a chance to bring everyone together and the people working here at Buhl Park are thrilled to put it on.”
This year’s Light Up the Sky event, which is presented by the chamber and a host of sponsors, will begin at 6 p.m. and continue through 9, with a special inflatables fun park for the children, sponsored by Lulu Beans Cafe, as well as the chamber’s children’s activities tent, which will include giveaways and balloon art by Dragonfly Balloons of Stoneboro. Manning the tent will be volunteers from the park and chamber as well as the Quota Club of Hermitage.
Families also can enjoy the music of the Second Avenue Project at the park’s Performing Arts Center.
At dusk, about 9:30 p.m., the fireworks display will begin.
And it will be especially beautiful this year, said Sherris Moreira, the chamber’s executive director.
Five additional minutes have been added to the show, courtesy of JCL Energy of Sharon, and a special grand finale has been sponsored by the Joy Cone Co.
“After the past three hugely successful events, we are excited to do it again for the fourth year even bigger than before,” Moreira said. “This is such a great way for our entire community to enjoy the opportunity to have a Fourth of July celebration within our own Shenango Valley.”
The fireworks are being provided by Pyrotecnico of New Castle and will be launched over Kite Hill.
But there will be plenty to do before those fireworks start bursting.
In addition to the children’s activities and the music, 12 food vendors will be on hand, including the park’s Cabin Cafe and Julia’s Cafe, and a variety of food trucks, said Annie Carpenter, Buhl Park’s director of events.
“There will be anything from gyros to kettle corn to ice cream to pizza,” Carpenter said.
About 15,000 people attended last year’s show, with the same number expected this year, Moreira said.
But those who make it to the park are not the only ones who enjoy the show, Voisey said.
“We have people in the park and around the park, with people watching from yards in Hermitage to yards in Sharpsville,” he said.
Getting that many people safely in and out of the park will take some doing, Voisey said.
Staff will be on hand to assist with parking and leaving after the show is over. Park officials have been able to decrease the exit time from about three hours a couple years ago to 45 minutes last year, Carpenter said.
“We’re constantly trying to see what we can do better,” she said.
Making its debut this year will be Clean Up after Light Up, a cleanup effort hosted by the chamber and the park. Beginning at 7 a.m. Monday, volunteers will meet at Cabin Cafe near the Performing Arts Center, where the park will provide gloves and garbage bags — as well as free donuts and coffee, Voisey said.
“With the amount of people that come through the park, there is unfortunately some trash that gets left behind,” he said. “It’ll be a huge help to have those volunteers out there to give us a hand that day.”
Interim Executive Director Linda Evans said Buhl Park is glad to be part of this community event, and acknowledges the support that has helped make it happen.
“This event is about giving back to the Shenango Valley and its residents,” Evans said. “So many businesses, organizations and municipalities wanted to be part of that give back. It’s truly inspiring to be surrounded by such a supportive business community.”
The sponsors, in addition to Joy Cone Co. and JCL Energy of Sharon, include:
Big Bang sponsors: City of Hermitage, City of Sharon, First National Bank, Paramount Games, Primary Health Network Charitable Foundation, Sharon Regional Medical Center and UPMC Horizon.
Firecracker sponsors: Black, Bashor and Porsch, Borough of Sharpsville, City of Farrell, the Community Foundation of Western PA and Eastern OH, The Lakes at Jefferson and Whole Life Services.
Sparkler sponsors: Avalon at Buhl Park, BC3@LindenPointe, Daffin’s Candies, Diversified Family Services, Greenville Savings Bank, Mercer County Community Federal Credit Union, Minuteman Press of Hermitage, Morris Chiropractic, Penn State Shenango and The Guardians Nest.