Thousands line city streets to view parade
SHAMOKIN - Northumber-land County Sheriff Robert Wolfe walked the entire 2.2-mile parade route Saturday as a participant.
What he saw impressed him.
"I haven't seen a crowd like this since 1989," he said, referring to the year of Shamokin's 125th anniversary. "Being a native Fifth Warder, it makes me feel good to see this."
What Wolfe, and all other parade participants, saw was thousands of people lining the sidewalks for the parade that celebrated Shamokin's 150th anniversary.
Mummers, beauty queens, a U.S. Olympian, bagpipers, Shriners and so much more were among the four dozen entries.
The parade and Saturday night's fireworks capped off a week of celebratory activities.
Among the spectators on Shamokin Street was the Most Rev. Ronald W. Gainer, bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg, who was sitting in a special seating area at Mother Cabrini Church.
"Today reminds me so much of my coal region roots when we would have parades like this," Gainer, a Pottsville native, said. "It's great seeing families and friends come together for such a great event."
Kitty Klebasko, who was an honorary grand marshal with Harry "Chick" Mattis, had a smile from ear to ear as she rode in the back of a car waving an American flag.
She said that Saturday's parade reminded her of the Anthracite Heritage Parade, which she and Mattis helped plan from 1965 to 1990.
"It's great to see this," Klebasko said as she waved at everyone. "Like the good old days."
U.S. Olympic luger Jayson Terdiman got a bird's-eye view of the crowd from atop his float. He called it "awesome."
For the reigning Miss Pennsylvania, Amanda Smith, Saturday's event marked the second parade she was a part of in the last two days.
On Friday, Smith rode in the Philadelphia Fourth of July Parade and took part in the festival. Saturday, it was time to ride on a golden float prepared for her.
"This is really something to see," Smith said Saturday morning. "Coming from Pittsburgh and being in Philadelphia, you see how the big cities celebrate. When you are in a small town, like Shamokin, you appreciate their work a lot more."
Smith got a little taste of the area earlier this morning when she ate at an area mainstay, Palmer's Diner.
"I was escorted there, and they asked me if I would wear the crown and sash inside, so I did." Smith said.
Spectators got a taste of the Mummers tradition as they cheered three string bands, the Uptown, Avalon, and the Polish American, which traveled from the Philadelphia area to perform.
"We love to be an ambassador for this art form," said Michael Leszezyszyn, a member of the Avalon String Band. "We are honored to participate in this celebration."
For Avalon, it was a special pilgrimage to the area for one of its members.
"One member's son, Shawn McGugan, painted a special mural that was unveiled today," Leszezyszyn said. (See Page B-12)
Appearing last in the line of march were members of the anniversary celebration committee. The crowd applauded as the committee made its way down the street, thanking everyone for their attendance and helping to bring back pride in Shamokin for the past week.
The night ended with the city's annual fireworks display, launched from the Glen Burn Colliery area and sponsored by the Citizens for a Better Community and Citizens Fireworks Inc.