Kids get involved in Greencastle-Antrim July Fourth celebration

July 04, 2011|By C.J. LOVELACE |
  • Dave Reeder, Ken Shockey and Barry and Mandy Stottlemyer, from left, perform "God Bless The USA" during the 10th annual Greencastle-Antrim July Fourth celebration on Monday.
Photo by C.J. Lovelace

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — Dozens of young children paraded around and led a rendition of “Happy Birthday” with a crowd of more than 100 at the 10th annual Greencastle-Antrim Fourth of July celebration on Monday.

Many were dressed in red, white and blue attire, and all of them were given small American flags to wave as they took part in a children’s parade, which was a way to help introduce them to patriotism and to celebrate the 235th birthday of the United States, said Russ Clever of Greencastle.

Serving as the grand marshal for the parade, Clever said it is important to get children interested in the history of the United States at a young age.

“This is when it begins,” said Clever, who has helped out with the celebration since its start in 2002.

Held at the Tayamentasachta Environmental Center next to Greencastle-Antrim Elementary School, the children’s parade was one of many activities that took place during the annual community celebration that started as a reaction to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Bonnie Shockey, chairwoman of the community group in charge of planning the event, said the celebration has grown tremendously since 2002, and organizers are adding more family-oriented activities to get more youngsters involved each year.

Shockey said it is important for children to “start to learn about the freedoms that they have, the history of the Declaration of Independence and (about) those first Freedom Fighters, who are the reason why we now have all the freedoms that we have in the United States.”

“We have senior citizens here who were part of the World War II generation. You have the baby boomers, their children, their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren here,” Shockey said. “So it definitely is a communitywide event that is enjoyed by everybody.”

The three-hour program began with a flag-folding ceremony by Cub Scout Pack 95 of Shady Grove, Pa., before a reading of the Declaration of Independence, which included the names of every statesman who signed the bill into law in 1776.

Jan Hirneisen, who has lived in the community for 38 years and is a retired teacher from the Greencastle-Antrim School District, has been coming to the celebration since its start and said she learns something new every year.

“I didn’t know that each fold means something,” she said, referring to the presentation by the local Scouts.

Servicemen and women of all branches of the military also were recognized during the program, including Army Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Franklin Bitner, a former Greencastle resident who was killed in Afghanistan in April.

“It is my feeling that anyone who gives his or her life for our country is not only a hero in their own community, but an American hero,” said Pastor Donald Bohn, who delivered the address. “He was indeed what we would call a ‘soldier’s soldier.’”

The Greencastle-Antrim Alumni Band and Christian band Wing and a Prayer provided entertainment throughout the day and Cub Scout Pack 95 served meals.

Hirneisen said she thought there were more people than ever at this year’s celebration, including more families and children.

“We come for the program, but we come to see the people, too,” she said, adding that it’s a nice get-together for the community.

The children’s parade was followed by a contest to find the “Most Patriotic Family,” and a children’s peanut and candy scramble.

“We’ve got to start here,” Clever said before he launched candy and peanuts into the air during the scramble. “It’s a lot of fun. A lot of people think I’m the biggest kid of all.”

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