Johnstown hitting 200
Yearlong celebration focuses on city's heritage
By KIRK SWAUGER
Johnstown will look to its past to begin its bicentennial.
The yearlong celebration starts Memorial Day weekend with a commemoration of the anniversary of the 1889 Johnstown flood and a giant parade reminiscent of the city's centennial pageantry.
"The heritage of our community will be well commemorated," said Andy Lasky, chairman of the Memorial Day weekend activities.
The events will take place May 26 to 31, organizers said Friday.
Some of the activities include an oldies concert at Point Stadium on May 28, a lantern tour of the city complete with costumed guides telling of life a century ago and a tribute in South Park to victims of the 1889 flood.
The parade, which will begin at 2p.m. May 28 following an interfaith service in Central Park. is expected to be among the largest ever in the city with a people's procession bringing up the rear, former Main Street Manager Richard Dill said.
"No community celebration would be complete without a parade," Dill said.
Later that night, The Crystals. Jimmy Beaumont & the Skyliners, Eddie Holman and Pure Gold will bring back memories from the 1950s and '60s in a concert at Point Stadium. The free concert begins at 8 p.m.
National Park Service will play a role in the bicentennial with an eight-mile hike of the path of the 1889 flood on May 27. Four days later, 2,209 candles will be lit at Johnstown Flood National Memorial in South Fork, signifying victims from the disaster.
"This has become an important tribute," park manager Joanne Hanley said.
At the same time, a reproduction Red Cross tent will be set up in the visitor center at the park, showing the role the fledgling organization played during the catastrophe.
"What a lot of people don't realize is this was one of the first major natural disasters Clara Barton and the Red Cross did," Hanley said.
Johnstown Area Heritage Association will open a restored Oklahoma House beside the flood museum May 27. The small wooden home, which will become a permanent exhib it, is believed to be among the last remaining of the prefabricated houses shipped to the city In the aftermath of the flood.
Events on May 28 include food, music, children's activities, a Civil War encampment and an antique auto show.
The Memorial Day celebration is the first of four planned for the bicentennial. The others are July 4, Labor Day and Founder's Day, Nov. 3.
Used with permission of The Tribune-Democrat
Kirk Swauger is a feature writer for the Tribune-Democrat
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