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Old Home Week to blend traditional with the new

Greencastle-Antrim event proves you can go home again

July 15, 2010|By DANA BROWN
  • Ben Thomas, Jr., left, president of the Greencastle-Antrim Old Home Week Association, and Frank Mowen, former association president and current board of directors member, talk about the upcoming triennial celebration.
Dana Brown, Staff Writer

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- "We are ready."

Three words that Ben Thomas Jr., president of the Greencastle-Antrim Old Home Week Association, likes to hear. And he heard them often at the association's last monthly planning meeting for the triennial homecoming event.

"We've been hearing that at the last several meetings," Thomas said.

What amazes him, Thomas added, is how the weeklong celebration comes together. Planning for Old Home Week is a three-year process, and it is the anticipation that fuels the celebration, he said.

"That's part of the success story. People get so excited," he said. "That three-year window just builds the enthusiasm."

Another part of the success of the story, Thomas said, is credited to the more than 400 volunteers who either serve on planning committees or help to keep the numerous events running smoothly throughout the week.

"I just find it amazing almost every corner of the Greencastle-Antrim area is involved," Thomas said.

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Thomas and Frank Mowen, former association president and current board of directors member, recently sat down to review the 48-page program book, which includes day-to-day schedules of reunions, reminiscing, concerts, picnics, bike tours, dancing, sing-a-longs, pageants and entertainment, as well as maps and registration forms.

But what you don't see in the program is the swelling of community pride, the men said.

"They paint up, they clean up," Thomas said. "It's a very happy feeling."

The community undergoes a sort of renewal, he said.

Families and friendships are strengthened by handshakes and hugs, something that e-mails and cell phones can't replace, Thomas said.

Nothing replaces "being there," Mowen said.

"You just feel the friendship," Thomas said. "That's certainly helping keep this tradition strong. As an event, it is the greatest venue that any community could have to support its citizens."

"That's really the object," Mowen added.

The weeklong homecoming celebration debunks the old adage "you can't go home again," Mowen said.

"That's a bunch of horse hockey," he said. "You can go home again, and we prove it every three years."

Thomas said the homecoming welcomes back former sons and daughters of Greencastle-Antrim, many of whom come back to their roots from all over the country and overseas, he said.

This year's celebration will continue to blend the traditional with the new.

For the first time, the site of the original Old Boys' Reunion, held in 1902 at Sandy Hollow along the Conococheague, will be open for picnics and reunions. For many, like Mowen who is a lifelong resident of Greencastle, it will be the first opportunity to visit the location, which hasn't been open to the public since the 1920s.

Thomas said he is prepared to go on very little sleep during Old Home Week. His duties as president will include attending as many events as he can, he said, "from the time I get up to the time I go to bed."

Near the week's end, Thomas is expected to mark another Old Home Week precedent at the public meeting of the association and board of directors when he hands over the mantle to the first woman to assume the position, current association secretary Carol Christophel.

While Thomas said he is bracing himself for Old Home Week withdrawal, he said he is already looking forward to the 38th triennial celebration in 2013.

On the web



For more information about Old Home Week, including the program of events, go to http://www.oldhomeweek.org

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