ABA marker celebration planned for late August
ASHLAND - The planning of the celebration of the Ashland Boys' Association (ABA) historical marker dedication is under way, with only seven months left to get everything together for the big day to "Come on Home."
Ashland Mummers Club's Historical Marker Committee Chairman Adam J. Bernodin III said the ABA celebration parade will be held Saturday, Aug. 31, beginning at noon when the borough fire alarm is sounded. The parade will be an all motorcade event with fire trucks, horses and wagons, and other vehicles that will travel the traditional parade route of going west on Walnut Street, crossing on 21st Street, and then east on Centre Street.
"The grand marshal will be a representative of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC)," said Bernodin. "We are going to welcome the museum commission with loud cheers."
Bernodin submitted an application in 2010 for an historical marker to recognize the accomplishments of the ABA and its influence at local, state and national levels from the early 1900s, but in April 2011 he was informed that it was rejected. In 2012, Bernodin submitted a revised application, with the PHMC board giving "provisional approval" last April, and final approval by the board Sept. 19.
A new banner was hung on the Mother's Memorial a few days ago announcing the Aug. 31 event, including the celebration's slogan, "Come on Home." The memorial, erected in 1938, the only monument of its type honoring mothers, was sponsored by the ABA. The statue is a three-dimensional depiction of "Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1," usually identified as "Whistler's Mother," an 1871 oil-on-canvas painting by American-born painter James McNeill Whistler.
The historical marker will be located at the base of the monument at Hoffman Boulevard and Chestnut Street.
About the parade, Bernodin said, "Our goal is to have the celebration parade in chronological order by decade. The parade will honor every decade when thousands came home to the coal region. The Schuylkill Historical Fire Society, a strong supporter of ABA, confirmed setting up the two fire truck ladder arches draping the U.S. flags in tribute to the Ashland Boys' Association. The arches will be located on Centre Street at Seventh and 13th streets. The two locations are to reminisce the old homemade arches in early ABA years."
He said the unveiling of the historical marker will be after the celebration parade at the Mother's Memorial. The time is to be determined.
"We are going to have a 'Welcome Home ABA' maroon and white shirts fundraiser at the dedication," Bernodin said. "Everyone will wear maroon and white representing the sentiment for the ABA colors."
Draping the historical marker before the unveiling will be the 2008 ABA Mummers Parade banner.
"When the marker is unveiled, the borough fire alarm will be activated, confetti like on New Year's Day will be flying, there will be fireworks going off, depending on borough approval, and the song 'Celebration' by Kool and the Gang will be playing," said Bernodin.
He added, "At the annual reunions in the past, the ABA always recognized the two oldest men who attended a homecoming. The Ashland Masonic Lodge 294 is the oldest organization in Ashland borough, and they are gladly accepting the honor to choose the two oldest men living in Ashland."
Bernodin said the Ashland Area Rotary Club will conduct their home decoration contest. "Welcome Home Plaza," which is the area at street level near the Mother's Memorial, will be dedicated by Ashland officials.
Bernodin said a souvenir booklet is being prepared and advertising sponsorships are being sought.
"We're having a commemorative souvenir booklet highlighting the history of the Ashland Boys' Association," said Bernodin. The deadline for submitting the patron ad form is March 30."
Block ads are full page, $100; 1/2 page, $60; 1/4 page, $40; 1/8 page, $25; patron listing, $5.
For information on placing a souvenir book advertisement or participating in the parade, contact Bernodin by e-mail at ADAM__13@msn.com (two underscores between the M and13) or by calling 590-2932.