Relaxing on a blanket spread out on the plush grass in the outfield of Sovereign Bank Stadium, three generations of the Hyson family waited for fireworks to race into the night sky.

Originally from Stewartstown and now living in Maryland, Daniel Hyson said Thursday was the first time he made it to the York area for the yearly Fourth of July fireworks.

It was also the first year festivities were moved to the baseball stadium, breaking the tradition of holding the display and accompanying events at the York Expo Center in West Manchester Township.

"We love it, and the fact that it's free is great," Hyson said, adding he liked that he and his wife, Hanna, didn't have to pay for their 3-year-old son, Mikey, to ride the rides or play other activities.

Crowds watch the Independence Day fireworks which were moved from the York Fairgrounds to the Sovereign Bank Stadium for the first time this year. MORE
Crowds watch the Independence Day fireworks which were moved from the York Fairgrounds to the Sovereign Bank Stadium for the first time this year.
MORE PHOTOS Bil Bowden photos (Bil Bowden)

Duane and Cathy Hyson, Daniel's parents, agreed.

"It's nice," Cathy Hyson said. "We like it here."

Play time: In the hours leading up to the fireworks display, children jumped in bounce houses or played in the York Revolution's play area.

Some children splashed through a miniature water park on Brooks Robinson Plaza as others tossed flying disks or danced to the U.S. Army Field Band Jazz Ambassadors on the field.

With about an hour to go before the fireworks, Eric Menzer, president and general manager of the York Revolution, said he was happy with how the night was shaping up despite some negative chatter on social network websites earlier this week.

Some people turned to Facebook and Twitter to voice their disapproval of the event's moving from the expo center and into the city.

"You can't base everything on a couple Facebook posts. The fact is that (the majority) of people were thrilled for this," he said. "Tradition is really good, but sometimes you have to shake things up a bit."

Change: In November, the Cultural Alliance of York announced that it accepted the team's offer to take over the event, which had lost sponsors.

The move may have saved the show, which lost three big sponsors for 2013 and was facing the same funding challenges that threatened or canceled other special events. The three lost sponsors represented about $22,000 of the $70,000 it costs to put on the show per year, Joanne Riley, president of the alliance, said at the time.

As he watched crowds pass through the gates and into the stadium, Menzer said it made sense for the team to take on hosting the event. The alliance has a staff of two compared to a larger Revolution staff that was able to focus more time on planning the night's activities.

"We have this down," he said. "This is what we do. We do it 70 times a year."

Jean Cassup of York City said she liked the fact she was able to walk to the stadium and avoid the traffic.

Though she didn't have children with her, she said she liked the numerous children's activities and the band.

"It think it's a good thing," she said. "They (have) a lot of stuff for the kids."

Boom: As fireworks blasted overhead, the crowds inside the stadium craned their necks skyward.

A number of people also watched the show from outside the stadium. Some crowded onto a little patch of grass just off Arch Street as others stood along North George Street.

As Janet Blouse and a few of her friends wanted for their ride after the fireworks had ended, they gave a mixed review of the event.

"All in all it was a nice night," Blouse, of York City, said.

Joan Riley, however, said the fireworks display was too short.

"You sneezed and you missed it," the York City resident said.

- Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.