First 4th celebration a hot hit

Despite the heat, hundreds turn out for inaugural community event at King Playground

Despite the heat, hundreds turn out for inaugural community event at King Playground

July 05, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Inspiration for Thursday's Fourth of July event in Greencastle hit while Bonnie Shockey was watching the borough's Memorial Day parade just over a month ago.

"I have asked a lot of people who have lived in Greencastle all of their lives if they can remember a Fourth of July celebration, and the only one mentioned was a children's parade in the 1940s and 1950s," Shockey said. "No one else can remember any other kind of Fourth of July celebration in Greencastle and that surprised me."

Shockey, who has lived in Greencastle for almost 50 years, contacted a few other community members including Dana Given, director of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce, Greencastle Mayor Robert "Red" Pensinger and Greencastle Borough Council member Jean Oliver.


"At the Memorial Day parade with veterans marching and the flag flying, it was just a very emotional time for myself," Shockey said. "Knowing July 4 was coming up, it was just something I wanted to see in Greencastle that would give residents the opportunity to get together and celebrate independence."

In the last four weeks the small group pulled together a three-hour tribute to the United States that drew more than 300 people to Jerome R. King Playground Thursday.

"It's a time in our country that we need to be patriotic. We have every reason to be proud of the country we live in, and it is important for us to rally together as a community and realize we have each other," Given said.

Dody and Russ Clever, lifelong Greencastle residents, said it was time the community had a celebration of its own.

"It's wonderful. Just look at the turnout," Dody Clever said.

"Everyone loves their hometown. We love it so much we're almost corny about it," Russ Clever said.

The pair, who make up the comedy team "Two Nuts and a Bolt," normally perform at picnics and events in other parts of the regions on July 4. The Clevers reserved this Independence Day to celebrate in their hometown.

Susan Bonebrake said the Greencastle event was a celebration of traditional values.

"I hope to see it again next year. It makes young people recognize traditional values, and it's a good time for people to get together and have a good time," said Bonebrake, who was joined by her daughter, Cherish Eby, and granddaughter, Grace Eby, 14 months, who was decked out in a red, white and blue stars-and-stripes sundress.

The event began with the Pledge of Allegiance and Star Spangled Banner and was filled with patriotic tunes and readings honoring the American flag.

It ended at 2 p.m. with a peanut scramble for children and a watermelon party.

Shockey said the early finale was because with only four weeks of preparation, organizers had no intention of competing with the larger, established celebrations in Waynesboro, Pa., Chambersburg, Pa., and Hagerstown, which draw thousands for fireworks at dusk.

"Some events have band music, and it would be rather difficult to try and compete with all four towns surrounding us," Shockey said, speculating that could be the reason there hasn't been a Fourth of July event in Greencastle in recent memory.

Shockey said there was no cost to put on the program, and everyone donated their time and talent.

"It was a grassroots effort," she said.

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