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Gov. Corbett keeps promise to walk in Mont Alto parade

July 13, 2013|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, center, waves to those watching the parade Saturday afternoon during the Mont Alto Centennial Parade.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

MONT ALTO, Pa. — Finding the perfect birthday gift can be a nearly impossible challenge.

But Saturday, Rep. Todd Rock, R-Franklin, found a birthday present for Mont Alto’s 100th anniversary celebration that had the town talking.

Rock asked Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett to serve as grand marshal of Mont Alto’s Centennial Parade, and he accepted.

“Two years ago, Todd (Rock) asked me to do this and convinced me to come for the 100th anniversary, and I said yes,” Corbett said. “I keep my word.”

“With about 67 counties across the state and thousands of little towns just like Mont Alto, and he picked us out of that group — we’re very thankful,” Rock said.

Corbett and Rock walked side by side down the mile-long parade route.

“I always walk in parades,” Corbett said.

Corbett took every opportunity to stop, shake hands or chat as he walked.

The governor’s staffers tossed candy to the crowd. Corbett, a dog lover, opted to hand out dog bones.

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Saturday marked the governor’s first visit to Mont Alto.

But he does have connections to the area.

His father, Thomas Corbett Sr., lived in Waynesboro, Pa., then moved to Hagerstown. He is buried in Waynesboro.

Corbett attributed his love of small towns to his father.

While Corbett has attended small-town parades, Mont Alto might be one of the smallest in which he has participated.

“I think it’s a way of recognizing our past, recognizing our history. And I believe in the axiom if we don’t know our history, we’re bound to repeat it. We can learn from it,” said Corbett, formerly a high school history teacher.

“I think it’s good for kids to understand there is something that came before them — that came before cellphones and everything like that,” he said.

Centennial Parade Chairwoman Carlene Willhide was thrilled with the parade.

“I was ecstatic (about Corbett’s participation),” Willhide said. “He’s so supportive, and we’re just so fortunate that he took the time to come here because he gets asked to do a lot. We feel very special that he was able to make this event.”

The parade began with about 12 entries and grew to 65 units, including marching units, floats, antique cars, firetrucks and a band.

“I’m very pleased,” Willhide said. “It came together almost at the last minute.”

Megan Kauffman’s family sat in front of her home off Pa. 997 in Mont Alto.

Kauffman’s mother, Sally (Shockey) Parr, said having Corbett in Mont Alto was a big event for the small town.

“I don’t remember anything like this when Mont Alto turned 50,” she said. “I don’t even know if they did anything.”

Parr’s daughter, Emmy Miner, wouldn’t have missed the parade for anything.

“It’s like a family heritage,” she said. “My mom’s side of the family is from Mont Alto.”

Jim and Mattie Barr of Penn National wanted to help Mont Alto celebrate a milestone birthday.

“I like small-town festivities,” Mattie Barr said.

She also wanted to support members of the Mont Alto Volunteer Fire Department, who are the first responders for the Penn National community.

Waynesboro Mayor Dick Starliper came to support his municipal neighbor.

“Anytime you have a milestone, whether 50 years or 100 years, it’s important for the community to come together, and this is what they have done here,” Starliper said. “They have come together as a community, and communities from outside Mont Alto have also recognized them for their service.”

Centennial festivities continue today with an ecumenical church service at Mont Alto State Park at 10 a.m., a community picnic at 11 a.m. and the burial of a time capsule at 2 p.m. on the square.

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