With a candy scramble, a children’s parade and a most patriotic family contest, Greencastle aimed to celebrate the Fourth of July with a hometown flair.
Since the town’s celebration began in 2002, organizers have centered the event around community and patriotism, and that’s exactly how the community likes it.
Miriam Springer of Greencastle attends every year.
“We’re so proud of our town. They do so much. They are such a wonderful group of people,” she said Wednesday while sitting on a lawn chair as the Greencastle-Antrim Alumni Band played patriotic music.
Springer said she likes the entertainment and the music.
“It’s just a great gathering,” Springer said.
She sat with her neighbor, Mary Louise Gingrich.
“I’ve lived here all my life. This is a wonderful place. I think it’s one of a kind,” she said, referring to Tayamentasachta Environmental Center and the walnut grove.
After a welcome by Dave Reeder and posting of the colors by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars unit, Barry Stottlemyer and Reeder sang “God Bless the U.S.A.”
Greencastle Mayor Robert Eberly then addressed those in attendance.
“Be thankful for our leaders. Be thankful for our right to vote,” he said.
Eberly said Americans should be proud of the nation and not take freedom for granted.
Those in attendance recognized servicemen and servicewomen, followed by a moment of silence for Greencastle native Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Franklin Bitner, who died in the line of duty April 23, 2011.
Greencastle resident Shelby Golden, portraying local heroine Dolly Harris, spoke to the crowd about the role of women during the Civil War.
When Harris was 17 years old, she walked up to Confederate Gen. George Pickett as he passed her home, waved a Union flag in his face and denounced his troops as “traitors to their country,” Golden said.
Bonnie Shockey, president of the board of directors of Allison-Antrim Museum, said funds are being collected to raise $37,000 by the end of the year to build a bronze statue of Harris to be erected in Greencastle.
At noon Wednesday, Grand Marshal Russ Clever led the children in a parade and a verse of “Happy Birthday” to America. Then, four families competed for the coveted title of “Most Patriotic Family.”
Some donned hats, glasses and clothing, while others dyed their hat or painted their fingernails to earn the title of most patriotic. The crowd chose the winner.
Friends Darlene Hostetter of State Line and Ruby Witmer of Greencastle won the contest and $20 cash.
Mary McCullough of Fayetteville, Pa., and her patriotic pooch, Bailey, attended the festivities.
“It’s an old-fashioned celebration. It’s wonderful,” McCullough said.
She attended with her friend, Debbie Gastrock of Shippensburg, Pa.
“This just takes us back to our childhood and simpler times. I just wish more people would know about this and come out. This is like a little slice of heaven,” Gastrock said.
Gastrock’s son just returned to the U.S. after serving two tours in Afghanistan. She’d like to see Americans be patriotic all year, not just on July Fourth, she said.
“I think we all have to remember just what we have in this country and how easily we could lose it all. We need to celebrate, and we need to thank God for this beautiful country of ours,” Gastrock said.