Kohler very busy as Waynesboro's 200th anniversary nears

July 06, 1997


Staff Writer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. It isn't easy being Allie Kohler these days.

Kohler, 59, a retired local elementary school teacher, is spending his summer trying to coordinate the upcoming Waynesboro 200th anniversary celebration - nearly two months of continual celebrations, parades, high school reunions, craft shows, concerts, dances, beard-growing and other contests, historical and other events involving hundreds of people.

"It's been tough keeping people, times and places straight," Kohler said.

Just about everything connected with the bicentennial goes through his temporary office at 1 W. Main St. in the town square.

The bicentennial celebration officially got underway on May 17 with a Victorian tea at the Oller House and will conclude Aug. 21 with an alumni choral program at Waynesboro Area High School.


It becomes most intense in the seven weeks between Aug. 2 and the finale alumni choral concerts at the high school on Sept. 21. A gigantic fireworks display on Sept. 19, followed the next day by the 10-band, three-hour 200th anniversary parade, will highlight the waning days of the celebration.

The parade will have no grand marshal.

"We want our city to be the focus of the parade. This is a celebration of people celebrating their community. We expect thousands of people to come to Waynesboro."

He said some as yet-unnamed famous figures will be present for the celebration.

Waynesboro's official 200th anniversary doesn't take place until December, but nobody wants to attend a festival that time of year, Kohler said.

When he's not trying to arrange an event, help to set up one of the 15 high school reunions scheduled during the bicentennial summer, certify vendors or answer citizen questions by the dozens, Kohler sells some of the hundreds of bicentennial mementos that are on sale in his office.

They include 250 pewter-style bicentennial plates, which are sold out, mugs, T-shirts and caps, maps, calendars, coins, pins, bunting and banners to decorate homes and businesses.

The Mayor and Council appointed the all-volunteer, 14-member Bicentennial Committee in June 1995. Kohler, a committee member, was elected secretary and later was hired by the committee to coordinate all bicentennial events. He is the only paid employee.

The committee has an operating budget of $98,000. Most of the events will be free.

It was in 1749 that John Wallace, the town's first settler, bought 600 acres near the Antietam Creek. His son, also named John Wallace, inherited his father's holdings and laid out a 90-lot town in 1797 which eventually became Waynesboro. It was named after Revolutionary War Gen. Anthony Wayne.

Waynesboro began to thrive after the Civil War when early industrialists like George Frick began to produce steam engines. Others, including Peter Geiser and Abraham and Franklin Landis opened factories, vestiges of which remain today.

The town boomed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The factories caused the population to soar from 2,000 in 1880 to more than 11,000 by the 1920s. Today, Waynesboro's population is about 9,000.

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