Community Day a success
by Mike Urban

Coaldale Begins Birthday Festivities
by Jackie Martin

Community Day a success
Large turnout on hand for Coaldale's 175th anniversary prelude

Coaldale's 175th birthday is two years away, but the party has already begun.
Coaldale Community Day was held yesterday to kick-off the anniversary celebration, and drew an estimated 2,000 people, most of them current or former Coaldale residents, to the Joseph "Chappy" Sharpy-Tom Raymer Memorial Field next to the Complex building.

Those who came enjoyed food and free entertainment from noon to 5 p.m., and many wore the Coaldale colors of orange and black, and clothing adorned with its mascot tiger. Attendance was so much greater than expected that some of the food stands sold out by 1 o'clock.

"It is just a great, warm feeling to have the community come together, and seeing everybody smiling and talking," said Joe Hnat, co-chairman of the Coaldale Anniversary Committee that staged the event.

"What a way to kick things off," he said, referring to the celebration that will run through the town's 175th anniversary in 2002.

"Thank You for our town of Coaldale, and thank You for our cultural heritage that we all enjoy," said Jay Hoffman during the invocation. Hoffman said that although the town has a lot of ethnic diversity, "we all are one."

Hnat said his committee was only planning to hold a community day next year if yesterday's event was successful. The turnout was so great that a 2001 Coaldale Community Day is now likely.

A number of those on hand had come back to town for Saturday's Coaldale High School Alumni Reunion at Jim Thorpe Memorial Hall, and stuck around to see more old friends on Sunday.

Orange and black bows were hung on homes throughout the town for weeks.

Yesterday's festival took one year of planning, and began with the singing of the Coaldale Alma Mater and fight song by the Alumni Chorus. Memorabilia from Coaldale's past was on display at several stands.

Food ranging from halupki to barbequed chicken to homemade cakes was sold by numerous community groups and was popular with those in attendance. Face painting and a dunk tank were among the activities for children.

Entertainment was provided by the Third Brigade Band of Pottsville, Coaldale native Jay Smarr, Marianne Ritzko Cutler's School of dance, Barbershop Chorus, Rainbow End Players, and DJ's Thad Hager and Nick Ritzko.

It was announced that the winner of the contest for designing the Coaldale 175th Anniversary logo was Ann O'Connell of Coaldale.

Among the groups that had stands or displays were: Coaldale Volunteer Fire Company, Coaldale CHOSE Recreation Organization, Coaldale Republican Club, Coaldale Complex Commission, Lions Club of Coaldale, Coaldale Ambulance Association, Coaldale American Legion, Coaldale VFW, Boy Scout Troop and Pack 762, Miners Memorial Hospital, Panther Valley Women's Club, Coaldale Cruisers, Lansford AMVETS, St. Mary Russian Church, First Congregational United Church of Christ, SS Cyril and Methodius Church, United Methodist Church, St. John Lithuanian Church, St. Mary of the Assumption Church, and the Piranha Swim Team.

Coaldale Begins Birthday Festivities
(July 10, 2000, by JACKY MARTIN
(A free-lance story for The Morning Call)
Even if a person had no directions to Coaldale Community Days Sunday, the bright orange "Coaldale Tigers" T-shirts gave away the location: the Tom Raymer and Chappy Sharpe Memorial Complex on W. High Street, Coaldale.

The shirts were souvenirs of the previous night's Coaldale High School reunion. "Remember this?" questions prevailed as photos and stories were exchanged among alumni while booths were set up and food prepared for the afternoon.

Civic pride is alive and well in Coaldale, where large orange and black bows decorate the houses on the way into town and excitement builds in anticipation of its 175th anniversary celebration scheduled for the summer of 2002.

Folks gathered at noon, lawn chairs tucked under their arms, for the Community Days program, which also marked the official kickoff for the 2002 gala.

Organizations such as the Coaldale Cruisers Oldies Auto Club and the Ladies Aid Society of St. Mary's Russian Orthodox Church helped get the fund-raising under way.

The ladies offered haluski (cabbage and noodles) and hot dogs, while the Cruisers sold commemorative shirts from previous car shows. Each pledged a portion of their profits to the anniversary fund.

Although Cruisers President Tom Maruschak no longer lives in Coaldale, he said, "I was born and raised here and wouldn't think about not taking part in the celebration of the town's anniversary. I had an auto body shop here until about 10 years ago. This will always be home."

Maruschak's brothers, Mike and John, also Cruisers members, helped with the stand and with the car display. A 1946 Ford, a 1951 Chevrolet Fleetline and a 1963 Mercury Comet shared the stage with a 1999 Corvette. The three vintage autos had been restored from junk condition.

Ladies Aid President Helen King praised the residents for their support. "All of us are trying to do our little bit to get this celebration off the ground. The first year is the hardest, but I know that we will all do our part to make the 175th anniversary a huge success," she said.

Music by disc jockeys Thad Hager and Nick Ritzko kept feet tapping while the adults mingled, chatted and ate.

Snow cones and cotton candy were offered by the Coaldale American Legion, while fruit cups and cookies were sold by St. Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church.

Entertainment was provided by the Third Brigade Band of Pottsville, Marianne Ritzko Cutler's School of Dance, Jay Smarr and the Barbershop Chorus.

The children had a wonderful time playing doctor and nurse in real costumes at the Miners Memorial Medical Center stand. The Rainbow's End Players painted their faces and entertained with skits.

A closing ceremony presented by the Panther Valley ROTC ended the day.