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How To Hoedown Throwdown In State College: Your Fourth of July Guide

For millions of Americans, the Fourth of July is a time to drink beer, eat grilled meats, and boast red-white-and-blue themed clothing — it’s no different in State College.

With a Fourth at home, the alcohol is bought on your parent’s dime and you’re fed like a king. Unfortunately, if you’re stuck in State College for the holiday, the free food and booze are less likely to make an appearance.

But just because you’re away from home for America’s special day, doesn’t mean you can’t throw down with a little shindig of your own. Whether you’re a freshman here for summer sesh or an upperclassman taking a few extra credits, there’s a way to make the holiday work for you.

Finding A Location

Perhaps the greatest challenge you’ll face when trying to plan out your Fourth of July party will be to find a location. The ideal location for a Fourth of July cookout will have a sizeable yard for daylong games and drinks. But, if you can’t find a house with a yard, any location with a balcony or sizeable room to spread out will do.

Beggars can’t be choosers.

If you’re an upperclassman, either you or a friend will have likely a house with a backyard or an apartment that will do the trick. Freshmen, if you’re lucky, you’ll have found an older friend who will also want in on your shenanigans and share their off-campus pad with you.

However, if neither of these solutions works for you, consider throwing the party in your own dorm. It might be a tad bit riskier, but if executed correctly, it might even be more fun.

Securing A Grill

Once you’ve secured a location, it’s time to get to work on figuring out the food situation.

If you’ve been planning ahead, either you or a friend will have brought your father’s grill down for the holiday. If you haven’t been planning and have some cash to spare, you can check out Walmart grills out on Atherton. And if you haven’t been planning and you’re short on cash, luckily there’s YouTube

Of course, if grilling isn’t your thing, you don’t necessarily need grilled meats (or other veggies for the vegetarians out there). However, I’ve never heard of a decent Fourth of July party that didn’t include some good ole fashioned grilled eats — so proceed at your own risk.

Getting The Goods

Now that you have a grill and a location, it’s time to load up on supplies.

For those living on campus, any commons’ convenience store will likely have paper plates, cups, utensils, and the like for you to purchase on your student meal plan. For those living downtown, you’re likely already familiar with the convenience of McLanahan’s stores — they’ll have all that you need.

Make sure you load up on chips, dips, snacks, and sweets. Buy a couple of packs of hot dogs, burgers, or veggies and get ready to start grilling. There’s nothing worse than drinking on an empty stomach, so be sure to fill the stomachs of you and your guests if you don’t want vomit covering your bathroom by the end of the night.


Every summer, the Central Pennsylvania July Fourth organization puts on 4th Fest for all local residents. The one-day celebration includes races in the morning, parade at 2 p.m., and various activities and entertainment from 4-8 p.m. The evening concludes with one of the largest firework displays in the country.

Unfortunately, tickets for fireworks V.I.P. seating run from $25-130. If spending that kind of dough is something you can afford, by all means, go for it. But if you’re like the rest of us, spending that kind of cash to see some fireworks just a little bit closer is not in our budget.

Despite the fees, most of the 4th Fest activities are open to all, so you can still participate in the fun. Plus, just because you don’t have V.I.P. seats doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the display. The fireworks are visible to all and will look just as great from the comfort of your own yard or balcony.

After spending the past several years at Penn State, I’ve been around the block a time or two. I know my way around a daylong, and hopefully, this guide to a Fourth of July themed one will at least give you a place to start planning your festivities.

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About the Author

Emma Dieter

Emma is a senior from the ever-popular "right-outside" Philly area studying labor employment relations and PR. She's also the Student Life editor for Onward State. She has been a Penn Stater from cradle and will continue to bleed blue and white, 'til grave. She loves trashy romance novels, watching Netflix, and crying over cute videos of dogs. If you ever want to talk more with her about how great she is, or simply have other inquiries, feel free to email her at [email protected]


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