I enjoy driving to Lewisburg. Wind along Route 15. Susquehanna River to the right. Clusters of homes, bygone shops, farms and hills on the left. A beautiful Saturday morning in June adds to the scenery as a bonus.
As we discussed at our June Diamond Talk, Mindy and I planned to attend our first Union County Veterans 4th of July parade. For 23 years, volunteer residents have planned a parade to recognize the contributions of veterans to the freedom we all enjoy. As Jack Fisher has been telling me since I first met him last year, “It’s always the last Saturday in June.”
Jack was our guest speaker last September when he presented the inside story and exclusive photographs of Christy Mathewson, one of the six original Hall of Fame inductees. Jack’s cousin, Betty Cook, represented the Mathewson family at Hall of Fame events for 30 years.
Jack provided plenty of details for that Saturday morning. “Here’s where you should try to park.” “Look for the Civil War statue on South Third Street.” “You’ll know when the parade begins, because they’ve arranged for a B-25 flyover.”
Many folks had set up chairs for a perfect parade view. Mindy and I took our front-row seats on the curb on South Third, where American flags and free newspapers lined the streets. We sat in the shade with a pleasant breeze wafting through the tree-lined street.
Parade volunteers rode along the street handing out American flags to all attendees. Mindy and I proudly displayed ours this past Tuesday.
Soon afterward, a group of runners raced by. We learned from the printed itinerary (an insert with the newspaper) that these were Monumental Mile Run participants. Not long after the final runner, we heard a roar overhead.
A shiny B-25 circled over the parade route several times, seemingly just over the treetops. The pilot must have been having a blast! Both of us got goosebumps as he continued to bank and the engines screamed above us. As the pilot dipped one last time and faded into the blue sky, we could faintly hear a marching band.
Mindy and I followed the parade participants both in our printed itinerary and from the banners held by marching boy and girl scouts. This year’s grand marshal, David S. Wisnia, and other dignitaries rode by in a mixture of classic and new automobiles.
A single file of soldiers, all in period dress, represented each American war from French-Indian and Revolutionary to the latest conflicts in the Middle East. High school bands, fife and drum corps and even a decorated string band from Philadelphia interspersed military jeeps, cavalry, personnel carriers, a boat to represent the Navy and … (are you ready?) Vietnam era helicopters. Mindy and I couldn’t get over seeing helicopters being towed down a small college town street.
Floats represented veterans’ organizations and Lewisburg history. Every military entry featured re-enactors with every fascinating detail in order. The inmates at the nearby prison fashioned a replica of the gateway to Christy Mathewson Memorial Stadium at Bucknell University.
Many participants tossed candy to young and old, just like the parades I recall as a youngster. Bucknell athletes handed out schedules for the upcoming fall season.
Once the stream of fire equipment concluded the parade, our fun day continued. More baseball history and new friends awaited us in our next post.