ROTARY CLUB OF THE ABINGTONS Welcoming new citizens with cookies and punch

June 10th, 2015 9:35 am

First Posted: 5/30/2014

On May 23at the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, 49 persons became citizens of the United States of America at the William J. Nealon Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Scranton, Pennsylvania in Courtroom Number 4.

The name of each petitioner was read. The Oath of Citizenship was given. The Honor Guard from Peckville VFW, Shopa Davey Post 6082 presented arms. With many accents and some tears of pride, the petitioners recited as one voice:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands: one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Forty-nine persons left the courtroom, holding a small American flag provided by the Lackawanna Office of Veteran Affairs, given to each citizen by members of the Rotary Club of the Abingtons. Fresh-baked homemade cookies and orange punch completed the reception. With smiling faces and congratulatory wishes, the Rotary Club of the Abingtons welcomed the new Americans.

Phyllis Watkins, wife of Rotarian Warren Watkins, has headed the reception committee since its inception. The week before the event, she calls Rotarians and asks them to bake for the new citizens. On the day before the reception, with others, she collects the home-baked goodies and brings them on the appointed day. Kathy Nelson, wife of Rotarian Dr. Skip Nelson, sets white cloths, trimmed in patriotic colors, on long tables. She arranges trays of inviting cookies and punch.

The idea of this community service began when now deceased Rotarian Bengt Nelson and his wife, Marianne, arrived in Spokane, Washington from Sweden. When they became naturalized Americans, a group of lawyers’ wives, welcomed them with a flag and a cookie and punch reception.

After the Nelsons settled in the Clarks Summit area, Bengt became a Rotarian and Marianne joined the Rotary Auxiliary, called the Rotary Anns. Marianne had a mission. She would get others to welcome new citizens when allegiance was sworn to the flag at the naturalization ceremony in Scranton. She chose Phyllis Watkins, Grace Aiken, Val Little, and Helen Hyde. The first of these welcoming ceremonies took place on November 4, 1982.

Thirty-two years later the event continues, still under the watchful eye of Phyllis Watkins. The goals of Rotary are still the same, to promote international understanding and good will. That goal was advanced with these home-baked goodies and a small American flag on May 23.

July 4, Fireworks Display by the Rotary Club of the Abingtons

For twenty-eight years, on or near the Fourth of July, the night sky has been lit up in the Abingtons by a huge fireworks display. This year, the event will start early, at five o’clock on the actual holiday, Friday, July 4.

Live bands will play. Fun events for children will keep the young amused. The smell of outdoor foods from sausage and pepper sandwiches, to pizza or potato pancakes will fill the early evening with scents of summer.

Make this a special night for your family. Instead of a long car ride, drive a short distance to the Abington Heights Middle School grounds. In the late afternoon, join your neighbors, listen to local music, and picnic with friends at the Fourth of July Fireworks Party.

Celebrate our nation’s independence, while you lie on a blanket and observe the wonder of the sky. The Rotary Club of the Abingtons gives a flashy, sparkling gift to the community on the Fourth of July. Be there for the celebration of our independence.