For the past 17 years or so, Denise and Steve Plonk and their family have been setting up camp at the same spot inside the York Expo Center to watch the yearly Fourth of July fireworks.
Wednesday was no different. The York Township family of six unloaded food, drinks, chairs and a tent from their minivan about noon and spent the day hanging out and waiting for the 34th annual Fourth of July celebration to get under way.
"It's like a picnic all day long," said Denise Plonk.
Denise and Steve Plonk's youngest daughter, Morgan, 8, played on a portable video gaming system as her parents and sisters, Brianna, 17, and Kelsey and Alli, both 15, and extended family members chatted and joked around.
When the sun goes down, so does the tent so the family can get a full view of the fireworks.
"The special thing is it's the one day out of the year that we all do something together," Steve Plonk said.
Booms: Carlos Castaneda, a crew chief with Schaefer Pyrotechnics, is the man behind York's main July 4th fireworks display and has been putting it on the past 11 years.
"(The York fireworks display) was one of my first shows," he said.
For the 34th annual Fourth of July celebration, put on by the Cultural Alliance of York County, a total of 3,000 fireworks were shot into the air, Castaneda said.
That's 1,500 pounds' worth of ooh and ah makers.
Castaneda and his crew built racks Tuesday that held the mortars that shot off the fireworks. Wednesday was the day the live rounds were put into the tubes.
The air-bound fireworks shoot anywhere between 200 and 500 feet into the sky, while the ground display stays at ground level, Castaneda said.
For the most part, all the fireworks are set off by hand.
"We use road flares," Castaneda said.
Each rack was destined to be shot off as certain songs were played. The massive collection of fireworks set to one side - well, those were for the grand finale.
"We try to do something special. It's the Fourth of July," Castaneda said.
Getting ready: Lillian Crowe of Airville and few of her friends waited for the concert by the York Symphony Orchestra and York Youth and York Junior symphonies to get under way.
Despite being at a far corner of the fairgrounds, Crowe said they can usually hear the music.
She's been holding down that same patch of grass on July 4th for the past 30 years or so. In the past, upwards of 20 to 30 family members and friends joined Crowe for the festivities.
This year Crowe and three friends sat side by side in lawn chairs. But the low turnout didn't stop them from being enthusiastic.
"I love the fireworks," said Leona Bull of York Township.
Outside: More than 20,000 people attend the free event inside the fairgrounds annually.
But many more set up lawn chairs just outside the grounds to watch the fireworks.
Cheryl Hull, her husband and their two daughters, and friend Nancy Feather, all of Dover Township, claimed a section of grass just off North Highland Avenue in West Manchester Township.
The Hulls and Feather have been sitting in the same spot for the past three Fourth of Julys.
"This is where we always sit," Cheryl Hull said.
She said they prefer to watch the fireworks from outside the fairgrounds because they don't have to deal with crowds.
About an hour before dusk, the Hulls and Feather were the only people on the property.
"We're not crowded, that's for sure," Feather said.
- Reach Greg Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org.