Bicentennial planner ready for a break

September 24, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - He may not head to Disney World now that the rush and crush of Waynesboro's Bicentennial Celebration is over, but Allie Kohler, the man who coordinated the two-month series of events, said he and his wife Jo Ann "will be going someplace big soon."

Kohler, 59, a retired middle school science teacher, spent most of his summer in the cramped office on Center Square that has served as the Waynesboro Historical Society Bicentennial Committee's headquarters since October. Kohler started out with a few hours at home, then went to three days a week in the headquarters in June and July and finally went full time Aug. 1, the day the bicentennial celebration officially opened with Robert Ringer's display of historic Waynesboro photographs in the local library.

Bicentennial events crowded the calendar afterward. The celebration culminated last weekend with a three-hour parade and a concert featuring more than 200 local singers.


"Counting back from Sunday, there were 24 straight days of events. Some days there were four going on," Kohler said.

Planning the celebration took two years. The committee first met in June 1995. A year later, Kohler was hired to coordinate the celebration, a job he said paid less than minimum wage if all his hours are counted.

Kohler's duties included recruiting local clubs and organizations to sponsor bicentennial events. The Jaycees' fire hydrant painting contest and the Exchange Club's time capsule project were two among many.

Kohler lined up marching units, bands and floats for the parade. He bought the banners and flags that promoted Waynesboro's 200th anniversary. He set out to raise $140,000 and ended up with $89,000 from the public fund-raising effort.

One of Kohler's biggest tasks was selecting and buying a store full of T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats, one gold, 500 silver and 1,000 bronze bicentennial commemorative coins, commemorative plates, crystal, mugs, pens, pencils and other souvenirs. It was all sold from the tiny office on the square.

The sales, which are still going on, grossed more than $90,000.

"I didn't expect to make that much," Kohler said as he was writing up the last order for commemorative clothing for last-minute shoppers.

One of the biggest sellers is the 90-minute video documenting Waynesboro history. It was produced by Kohler's son. Kohler ordered 2,000 copies of the $15 video to meet the demand. The first 500 were gone in a few days, he said.

There is still some inventory left - 250 bronze coins, about 20 silver ones and some smaller stuff. Kohler said he's not ready for a going-out-of-business sale. The office will stay open a while longer, he said.

"I learned that when you have a good cause, you get great participation from the people of Waynesboro," Kohler said. "I don't know how many people volunteered, but it runs into the hundreds. It all went very well. There were very few problems."

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