Lititz Springs Park History
The area known as Lititz Springs Park was inhabited many centuries ago by Native Americans; namely, the Nanticokes. The Lititz Run, flowing through the Park, was known for many years as Carter’s Run, named after Richard Carter who, emigrating from Warwickshire, England, in 1716, was one of the region’s earliest settlers.
John George Klein, who settled in Warwick Township about 1740, acquired 296 acres of land around the “Big Spring” of the Park. In 1754 Klein and his wife turned over their tract of land, now totaling 491 acres, for a new settlement to be established for the Moravian Brethren. Count Zinzendorf, the leader and organizer of the modern day Moravian Church, named the new settlement Lititz, in 1756. The administration and supervision of Lititz were entirely by the Moravian Congregation and would continue in that capacity until 1855.
The first reported use of the Park as a pleasure place, was in May of 1778 when Tobias Hirte, a local music teacher, along with a small orchestra of young men, gave evening concerts for the Revolutionary War soldiers. The Soldiers were convalescing at the Brothers House. However, the “Aufseher Collegium” (Moravian Governing Authority) expressed disapproval of this entertainment as too worldly.
It was not until 1792 that a meeting was called by the citizens to improve the Springs. The town governing authority of secular affairs reluctantly gave permission to plant trees, build arbors and lay walkways. From 1846 to 1856 the Park was placed under the care of John Beck, who was Principal of the Lititz Boys’ Academy. Through his leadership the Park was transformed and in 1856 was dedicated as a public park, which soon became a favorite resort for recreation and relaxation. In addition to its beautiful stream, shaded walkways and well-kept natural environment, the Park was decorated in 1857 by a lion’s head. It was elegantly carved out of limestone by Julius Augustus Beck, a native of Lititz.
In 1957, the Park was modernized and beautified to bring it to its present appearance. With its incomparable beauty and its scenic serenity, Lititz Springs Park is certainly a community legacy. It is a place of gala celebrations, family gatherings and individual quietude. It is indeed a place of community pride.
Lititz Springs Park is a private park for public use, owned by the Lititz Moravian Congregation and maintained through a Declaration of Trust by a seventeen member Board of Trustees. The Park grounds were administratively turned over to the community of Lititz in 1956. In 1994, the care of the Lititz Memorial Square was added to the responsibilities of the Park Board. The Board members are comprised of representatives from various local churches along with several members-at-large. Lititz Springs Park, Inc., a non-profit organization, relies heavily on contributions from organizations and churches, individuals, rental of park facilities, and the annual Fourth of July celebration and Antique Show.
Fourth of July Celebration
The first recorded Independence Day observance in Lititz Springs Park occurred July 4, 1811. This met with disapproval from the Moravian Governing Authority for “merrymaking.” It was not until July 4, 1818, that Lititz held its first community-wide observance of Independence Day. The Moravians, who did not want to show a lack of patriotism, now encouraged the celebration; it is now considered one of the oldest continuous community-wide celebrations in the United States. This year marks the 200th continuous 4th of July celebration in Lititz Springs Park.
In 1843, a special attraction was introduced to the annual Fourth of July celebration. Planners decided to light 400 candles – an extraordinary feature advertised as a “general illumination of the grounds.” This candle lighting custom had been “borrowed” from the most familiar portion of the Moravian Christmas Vigil. Thus, a cherished, Independence Day tradition was begun and continues today with the lighting of over 5,000 candles for a very stunning “Fairyland of Candles.”
In 1846, fireworks were added to the festivities with Charles Getz of the Lancaster Museum, igniting the first display.
In commemoration in 1942, of the 100th Anniversary of the first candle illumination, the Pageant of the Queen of the Candles was inaugurated with the crowning of Miss Pauline Moyer, a senior from Lititz High School, as the first Queen.
Today’s celebration includes entertainment throughout the day, Bluegrass Festival, a baby parade, games, food, Community Band, Mama Tried Band, Queen of Candles Pageant, illumination of candles, and hi-tech fireworks choreographed to music!
Lititz Springs Park has held an annual Antique Show since 1968, scheduled the fourth Saturday of August, rain or shine. Many antique and collectible dealers from throughout Central Pennsylvania fill the Park with their stands.
Food is available throughout the day along with musical entertainment. This Show has become one of the premiere antique shows in the area!
Christmas in the Park
Since 1994 Lititz Springs Park has been sponsoring another annual community event - “Christmas in the Park.” The program includes musical selections by the Lititz Moravian Trombone Choir and the Warwick High School Concert Choir. Following the Mayor’s Christmas message, the lighting of the Community Christmas Tree along with the illumination of lights throughout the Park takes place. Then those who have gathered, light their candles and sing joyously well-known Christmas Carols. This is a festive atmosphere to start the season which is indeed a Norman Rockwell Christmas scene.
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