For more than three decades, UMT residents have enjoyed some pretty spectacular Independence Day fireworks. An accompanying back story is how a local family laid the foundation for what has become an enduring and memorable event. "Our family has had neighborhood displays since the 1970's, but it went to a new level in 1984," explains Carl F. Schmoyer III, fifth generation director at Schmoyer Funeral Home in Breinigsville. "That year dad and I drove to Ohio in a Pontiac station wagon and, with permits in hand, returned with an ample supply for the first really expansive (and expensive) display."
Every year thereafter, the event held in the Schmoyers' backyard became larger. By 2003 more than 1000 people packed the Brookdale Road property. "That's when my good friend (now UMT Fire Commissioner) Grant Grim looked at the crowd and told me we needed to find a bigger venue," Schmoyer recalls. "The township supervisors generously offered Breinigsville Park and that's where we have staged them ever since."
n 2014, the 200th anniversary of Francis Scott Key's penning of "The Star Spangled Banner," the event attracted 15,000 and drew them to their feet with a rare "Double Grand Finale" synchronized to the spirit-stirring music of our national anthem. Producing a show of this size requires considerable planning. The display is more than 40 minutes long and it takes almost 2 hours to design one minute of it. There are tens of thousands of pyrotechnics used. "We now have more than 20 individuals to man the firing equipment and help with traffic control plus another 40 volunteers for set-up and clean-up over a six day span," says Schmoyer.
So why does his family continue to ignite what they consider an awe-inspiring tradition, now in its 31st year. Schmoyer replies, "It's a way of giving back and making great memories in and for the community our family has called home for over 150 years, Upper Macungie Township!"