For 4thFest president, holiday is about more than fireworks

This is part of a weekly series that highlights the organizations or people behind one of the Foundation’s funds.

To some people, the 4th of July is just about fireworks, hot dogs and a day off from work.

But Paul H. Silvis thought it was important, especially in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, to help people celebrate the true meaning of the 4th of July.

“I’m very patriotic. I believe that it’s important to celebrate our nation’s birthday,” Silvis said.

So a year after the tragedy, Silvis was involved in setting up the Proud to be an American Fund at the Centre County Community Foundation. Distributions from the Fund are used to fund local patriotic celebrations.

“We figured there were other people out there who were equally patriotic, so we thought we would start the fund as a permanent mechanism for people to support things from 4th of July parades to fireworks displays,” Silvis said.

Like thousands of others, Silvis came out for last night’s 4thFest Celebration. But as president of Central PA 4thFest, he worked behind the scenes, enabling everyone else to enjoy the results.

“I personally celebrate by getting up at 4 a.m. and planning, and making sure the fireworks go OK. So I celebrate my 4th by serving in a volunteer capacity,” Silvis said.

For Silvis and others, putting on “The Greatest Volunteer Fireworks Show on the Planet” involves a lot of work. The volunteering went late into the night and continues into today, with cleanup having started around 7 a.m.

Though organizing 4thFest is hard work, Silvis can’t imagine a better cause to devote his time to than celebrating the United States of America.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat, what church you go (or don’t go) to or what your race is; this is the greatest country on Earth. And we think it’s important to celebrate that,” Silvis said, adding, “It’s not perfect, but I’m glad I’m here.”

-Erin

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