Old People's Day, the county's biggest bicentennial event, to take place Saturday
TOWANDA - Of all the events being held this year to celebrate the bicentennial of Bradford County, Bradford County Old People's Day, which takes place on Saturday, June 23 in downtown Towanda, will be the biggest.
The all-day event will include a parade, Civil War re-enactments, displays by 10 museums, crafts vendors, a car show, visits by "Ben Franklin" and modern-day dignitaries, kids' activities, cannon firings, and much more, organizers said.
"There is a lot happening (at Old People's Day)," said Matt Carl, curator of the Bradford County Historical Society. "It (Old People's Day) is definitely something that is geared to all ages and it highlights local history, so we think that people of all ages will be interested in attending and learning more about the county."
"This (Old People's Day) is the headlining event of the bi-centennial," Towanda businessman Jay Cory said.
The public is invited to attend all of the activities and events at Bradford County Old People's Day, which will all be free of charge, Carl said.
Except for the parade and the car show, all of the events and activities at Old People's Day will take place in and around the Bradford County Courthouse, Carl said.
Old People's Day honors the county's elderly, but the event and its activities are really geared toward people of all ages, he said.
Here is a summary of the events at Bradford County Old People's Day:
- Bradford County Old People's Day officially begins at 10 a.m., when the courthouse opens.
In the rotunda of the courthouse, there will be displays set up by the 10 museums in Bradford County. The displays, which will include photographs and possibly artifacts, will show what can be found in each museum, and some of museums will have displays about the history of the section of the county where the museum is located, Carl said. The Home Textile Tool Museum's display, for example, will feature, among other things, someone spinning yarn on an antique spinning wheel.
Beginning at 10 a.m., Bradford County residents age 70 and older are invited to register at a table on the front porch of the courthouse, Carl said. They will receive a special Old People's Day ribbon at the registration table. And the oldest male and female Bradford County residents to register will receive an etched crystal award at a ceremony later that day, Carl said. At the registration table, ribbons will also be distributed to veterans.
- At 11 a.m., Carl will give a free program in Courtroom I of the Bradford County Courthouse, which will be about the history of the courthouse square and county buildings, including the old jail in Towanda and the alms house in West Burlington Township. Carl's program, which will last about an hour, will include a power point presentation. Carl's program will be repeated at 1 p.m. in Courtroom I.
- At noon, a car show, which will feature antique cars and other types of vehicles, will begin in a parking lot next to the Flying Cow Bakery & Cafe, which is located at the intersection of State Street and the Merrill Parkway.
- At 2 p.m., free children's activities, including picture coloring and craft making, will begin next to Ben Franklin Crafts.
- At 2:30 p.m. a professional photographer will take a group photo in front of the courthouse of all Bradford County residents age 70 and older. Copies of the photos will be presented to the Bradford County commissioners and the Bradford County Historical Society, which will include it in their archives. Veterans from Bradford County, who could be of any age, are also invited to be in the photo.
- At 3 p.m., a ceremony will take place in front of the courthouse, at which state Sen. Gene Yaw and state Rep. Tina Pickett will present citations to the Bradford County commissioners, and at which the oldest Bradford County residents will receive their awards.
There will be chairs set up in front of the courthouse for people to use to watch the ceremony.
Also around 3 p.m., "Ben Franklin" will distribute 200 copies of the Declaration of Independence to members of the public, on a first come, first served basis, in front of the courthouse.
- At 3:30 p.m., Guy Abell, who is an emeritus member of the board of directors of the Bradford County Historical Society, will be dressed in period costume as he reads the Declaration of Independence in front of the courthouse.
- A cannon behind the Bradford County Courthouse will be fired to mark the start of the parade, which begins at 4 p.m.
The parade will start at the intersection of Elm Street (formerly called Plank Road) and Main Street in Towanda and travel south on Main Street to Elizabeth Street, where it will turn left and end in the parking lot of the Progress Building.
The parade will include floats, bands and other musical groups, fire company vehicles and ambulances, the Bradford County commissioners, the Bradford-Sullivan Outstanding Young Woman, Maggi Frawley's dancers, dancers from the Endless Mountain Dance Center, and more.
There will also be Civil War re-enactors firing blanks from Springfield rifles at various times while they march in the parade, and they will also be towing a replica of Civil War cannon.
Lunch and dinners will be available for purchase, beginning at around 11 a.m., at the south side of the courthouse. The lunches and dinners - including pulled pork sandwiches, hot dogs, baked beans, potato salad, soda and water - will be served by Fred E's catering. There will be tables and chairs set up outside the courthouse for people to use to eat their meals.
Civil War re-enactors of the 141st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, which was a Bradford County regiment, will have a camp set up throughout the day on the north lawn of the courthouse. The public is welcome to talk with the re-enactors about the Civil War and the life of a Civil War soldier, said Kurt Lafy, head of the re-enactment program.
There will be a replica of a Civil War cannon set up behind the courthouse, between the Merrill Parkway and the Susquehanna River, where the public can learn about the loading and firing of the cannon, Lafy said. Several times throughout the day the cannon will be fired with blank rounds, he said.
Park Street will be closed off during the day to accommodate crafts vendors and children's activities.
Many of the activities that are part of Old People's Day are intended to replicate activities that were part of Old People's Day when it had been held in the early 1900s in Towanda, including the distribution of ribbons to the elderly, group photographs of the elderly and veterans, and prizes given to the oldest male and female Bradford County resident, Carl said.
Old People's Day was first held in Bradford County around 1904, and was last held during the Great Depression, Carl said. The event was held during the county's centennial.
Organizers of Bradford County Old People's Day said they are trying to arrange for residents of additional area nursing homes and personal care homes to attend the event.
Organizers are also encouraging others to participate in the parade. If interested in participating in the parade, telephone Pat Hoover at (570) 265-9210 or Jay Cory at (570) 265-8688.
The public is asked to remove their cars from Main Street by 3 p.m. Saturday along the entire parade route.
Bradford County Old People's Day is sponsored by the Bradford County commissioners and the Bradford County Historical Society.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.