by KP Intern Kyle Predmore
The annual Firemen’s Parade rode past the hundreds of spectators last night as a part of the Worthington Carnival celebration.
Worthington resident and parade announcer Marcia Long was the parade announcer, and has been for 38 years.
“This parade all started in 1947,” Long said. “It’s impressive what started from just a few group of men and women has developed into to this day. The fire department itself started in 1946 and is a great station for this town.”
Long took great joy in calling the parade due to her grandfather being a charter member of Kittaninng No. 6.
“He was also a main man in Wick City,” Long explained. “If the fire whistle ever went off, he would drop his mailbag on somebody’s porch and fly back to the station and hop on the truck. To me, firemen have always been important because of him.
“Every time I hear that fire whistle go off, I start praying that God will be with those fellows and ladies and he will bring them home safely and everybody will be involved will be ok, whatever it might be. They don’t know what they’re getting involved with.”
The 90-minute parade featured fire departments from all around the local area as well as the Kittanning Firemen’s Band, local baseball teams, drill teams, and businesses.
The Armstrong River Hawks Marching Band was the only High School marching band in attendance and is under the direction of Jason Venesky from Kittanning.
“We will have about 80 kids here today,” Venesky said. “This is the first parade of the year for the new season.”
There was also a float containing several students from the Worthington West Franklin Class of 1968 for their 50th reunion. There were 9 total members of the class on the float, including the 1968 class president Dan Higgins.
“We’re able to see classmates we haven’t seen in 50 years,” Higgins said. “We are coming together and renewing old acquaintances.”
Where Higgins didn’t have to make a long trip from where he lives in Chambersburg for the parade, there was even one member from out of the state.
“We have people from Apollo, Butler, Chambersburg and even one from Florida,” Higgins said. “On top of that, we even have our 8th grade teacher here. He will be at the teacher’s desk ‘teaching us’ as we go down the parade route.”
“I was a teacher here at Worthington West-Franklin (high school) and taught history and geography,” Don Shilling said.
“I love local history,” Shilling said. “My wife and I both belong to the Red Bank Valley Historical Society in New Bethlehem and I just love it.”
Even though Shilling is from Kittanning, he has also has a love for Worthington as well.
“Worthington has a special place in my heart. Not only because they hired me first, but because the kids were so great. The kids here were wonderful.”
There were also several motorcyclists from the American Legion Riders participating in the parade.
“We raise funds to help veterans in need, American Legion Riders President Harold French said. “We have DJ dances, gun raffles, things like that anything to help support other people when we can. We all like to ride motorcycles.”
The American Legion Riders chapters are well known for their charitable work, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local children’s hospitals, schools, veteran’s homes, severely wounded service members and scholarships.
French, who also had the nickname of “Frenchie”, has been riding for 71 years and is also a proud veteran of the United States Navy and served from 1964 to 1968.
“We have a good time but we don’t forget what our main purpose is to help veterans and other people,” French added.
The Worthington West-Franklin annual festival will continue to run through June 30 and will have the Bike Parade and Bike Night tonight at 6:30 PM.