Trek of the Cross in Gordon marks 36th year
GORDON - For the 36th year in a row, the traditional "Trek of the Cross" on Good Friday was held in Gordon, moving along the borough streets reenacting the walk of Jesus Christ to Calvary.
One of the participants was Rose Yost, of Gordon, whose late husband, Elmer Yost, began the trek 35 years ago. She was dressed in the traditional garb of the time of Jesus, as were others who participated in the trek.
"It (the trek) honors what Jesus Christ did for each and every one of us," said Yost. "It started in 1979, so Elmer did it from 1979 to 1988, and in 1989, the year he died, Ed Labie took it over in portraying Jesus. He (Labie) had been one of the soldiers all along, so he just stepped into the role."
The tradition began when Elmer Yost picked up a large cross and walked through the streets portraying Jesus Christ to bring the salvation message of Good Friday to Gordon's homebound.
The first year, Yost did the trek by himself. The second year he had a friend come from Allentown as a soldier. On the third year, he rented two soldier costumes.
When he started the trek, Yost was an Allentown resident, but made regular visits to the borough and was a member of Simpson United Methodist Church in Gordon, as well as with a church in Allentown. The pastor at the time was interested in re-enactments and supported Yost in his idea.
Yost had planned to do the trek for 12 years - a year for each Apostle - with the hope that it would continue beyond that time. Shortly after the 10th trek, Yost passed away. In order to complete the intended 12 years of treks, Labie, Yost's nephew, picked up the cross in 1989 for the two remaining years. Those two treks became 21 treks, his last in 2009. In 2010, Frackville resident Jeffrey Nemeth, who is Labie's nephew, picked up the cross to continue the community tradition and the family tradition.
"He (Elmer Yost) wanted to bring the message of Good Friday to the homebound people," said Rose Yost. "Back in the 1970s and 1980s, if you didn't get to church, you really felt bad and felt like you were missing the whole holiday. That's why it started. It's a nice tradition and something to look forward to. "
Friday was the fifth time Nemeth put on the crown of thorns, purple sash and white robe for the trek, carrying the large cross through the streets. As with Yost and Labie, Nemeth walked as Jesus in bare feet.
"This is the first year I didn't grow the beard," said Nemeth, who was sporting a fake beard.
Near Nemeth was his five-year-old son, Jeffrey Jr., who Nemeth hopes will take over for him when he is old enough.
The trek began at 12:15 p.m. from Simpson United Methodist Church, the traditional starting place. The parsonage next to the church was used as the dressing room for Nemeth and the two centurions - Keegan Hubler, of Lavelle, and Brandon Herling, of Hazleton - who provided the Roman guard during the walk. Others who walked behind Jesus dressed in period costume or wore modern clothing.
The trek started from the church on Biddle Street and proceeded east to Hobart Street, where it turned left. The participants walked the entire length of the street, moved west to McKnight Street, walking the length of the street back to Biddle Street, where the trek turned left to end at Simpson UMC. Participants and onlookers entered the church for the 1 p.m. Good Friday service by Pastor John Wallace.
Gordon Fire Police provided traffic control.