CLARKS SUMMIT — Unlike last year when rain prevented it from happening, the Clarks Summit Memorial Day Parade came back in full swing May 28. A lot of community organizations came together to participate in the annual parade, which started in the parking lot of Clarks Summit Elementary School, including units from the Abington Heights School District.
The Abington Heights Marching Band played both the “Marine Hymn” and “Anchors Aweigh,” a hymn of the U.S. Navy as it marched down Grove Street to State Street. The band was led by Abington Heights band director Jake Arnold.
“I love it,” Arnold said about participating in the parade. “I can’t complain.”
Young cheerleaders of the Abington Jr. Comets held a banner in the parade.
“This is my first time,” said 9-year-old Maeve Malone, a C-team cheerleader. “I’m excited to be in the parade.”
The Abington Heights boys’ basketball state championship team also marched.
Ghostlight Productions promoted its 10th annual Shakespeare in the Park. The actors and actresses will perform the play “Hamlet” on Fridays, June 1 and 8, Saturdays, June 2 and 9, and Sundays, June 3 and 10 at South Abington Park. They’ve been in the parade all 10 years since Shakespeare in the Park began.
“We love being in the parade, thanking the community and veterans,” said Jonathan Strayer, who is directing “Hamlet” this year.
“It’s a really great time for us to engage with all the people in the community which is also doing exciting things,” added Jonathan’s wife Rachel, who plays Horatio in the upcoming production.
Clarks Green United Methodist Church members marched as Pastor John Bondhus dressed in a chicken suit. They were advertising their upcoming chicken BBQ, which will be at the church this Saturday, June 2. Also from Clarks Green, Cub Scouts Pack 251 gave candy to the children watching from the sidewalks of Grove Street and State Street.
Residents of Grove Street and visitors watched from the sidewalks and curbs. They saw firetrucks from many local fire companies, tow trucks from Abington Body Shop, and old-fashioned vehicles from the British Car Club of Northeastern PA in Clarks Summit. Watching the parade was South Abington resident Wally Tompkins with his wife Ann. Wally is a Vietnam veteran and served in the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) in Korea for 14 months.
“These parades, we honor and respect our fallen men and women who made our country free and what it is today,” he said.
People also conducted fundraisers on the side of State Street. Lackawanna 4-H Club sold books and baked goods to raise money to buy ingredients to make pet treats for the animals of Griffin Pond Animal Shelter. The members chose to do a fundraiser instead of marching.
In front of The Gathering Place, Mayor Herman Johnson, along with his wife Christine and son Alex vended raffle basket tickets to raise funds for the Veterans Park on State Street. Herman started a new program called Hometown Heroes, in which banners featuring local veterans are currently hung on telephone poles of State Street and Depot Street.
“We’re celebrating the sacrifices that the veterans made,” he said. “We celebrate the freedom they provided for us.”
There are currently 18 banners, including one of Herman (Vietnam War veteran) displayed but more can be displayed down to the Parker-Wescott Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge, named after two Vietnam veterans from Clarks Summit who died in war.
Christine Johnson is glad the money for Veterans Park doesn’t have to come from the state.
“The park takes care of itself through the fundraisers,” she said.
Herman aims to keep the Hometown Heroes project annually.
The parade concluded with a Memorial Day ceremony at VFW Post 7069. Chaplain Patrick Williams performed the opening ceremony and the benediction to close it. Commander Don Jones read the presentation of the wreaths, which were presented by Abington Heights Marching Band, Waverly Lodge Masons 301 and others. Michael McLane read the names of the fallen veterans from the Abington area and Scranton. Nick Shychuk and John Yevonishon folded the flags as Senior Vice Commander John Wettstein recited the representations of each fold.
“It was emotional for me just being part of this Memorial Day ceremony,” said Commander Don Jones. “Remembering all of our brothers and sisters who have died.”
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