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.