Veterans Appreciation Day picnic still going strong
A Sunday picnic held at the Wysox fire hall attracted over 1,000 people while honoring veterans across the nation. This year, the 25th annual installment of the Bradford County Veterans Appreciation Day picnic focused on the four Vietnam veterans who organized the inaugural event in 1988; Joe Larnard, Don McNeal, Merle Young and Steve Fassett. McNeal, who lives in the Valley area, is the only survivor of the four veterans.
Sunday's course of events included an opening ceremony with taps played by bugler Clayton Templar, a speech from Towanda native Army Major General Leslie Purser and was followed by music - lots of music.
From noon until 3:30 p.m. veterans, locals and the Country Connection line dancers grooved to music provided by DJ Bob Brenner and sporadic singing performances from Ike Bowers, a member of the well known 1950s Rhythm and Blues group The Clovers. The Clovers gained much popularity from their 1959 top thirty U.S. hit, "Love Potion No. 9."
Bowers has lived in the Canton area since 1977, when he began serving as a Pennsylvania State Police officer.
"Each year I get invited to this event and I try my best to make it," the Air Force veteran said of the picnic.
Bowers performed Motown classics during the festivities, including a rendition of My Girl, originally performed by The Temptations.
A group of veterans were bussed in for the event from the Bradford County Manor and V.A. hospitals in Bath, N.Y. and Wilkes-Barre.
"This is about all veterans, not just those in Bradford County," volunteer Diane Elliott said.
All former military service members were given a free meal, hat and t-shirt commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. The money raised at the event will go towards future picnics and continuing the tradition, Elliott said.
Multiple organizers said they have no way of telling the exact attendance, but they were certain it was over 1,000 people.
Dan Polinski of the Sayre VFW gave praise to volunteers and organizers after the event had finished, saying, "This was wonderful. The food was great and having a two star general here was really nice too." He described the organization of the event as a "blowout job."
DJ Brenner said of the event, "It's great. I've been doing this event for 20 years and I wouldn't miss it for anything."
But throughout the party atmosphere, organizers wanted to make sure the message of showing thanks to veterans was not missed.
"We just want to show thanks to all of the vets out there," Elliott said.