NICHOLSON — Vendors and activities filled up Main Street on Sept. 9 to celebrate a popular bridge that stands above the town. It was the 28th annual Nicholson Bridge Day, held in honor of the now-103-year-old monument aka Tunkhannock Viaduct.
The Nicholson’s Women’s Club, which organized the event, put together a photo album of documented information, especially newspaper articles, about the town’s and bridge’s history.
“Bridge Day is so wonderful,” said Ruth Nicholson, historian and past president of the club. “We get about 2,000 people each year. Everybody has fun. It’s a nice family day.”
Nicholson was accompanied by the club’s treasurer Karin Wellings at a stand, at which they also vended a puzzle of an old photo depicting the Nicholson Bridge.
There were also new photos of Nicholson taken by John Burdick, local historian from the town of Susquehanna. For 10 years now, Burdick has been driving 30 miles on the scenic Route 92 to attend Bridge Day.
“It’s a little bit of a trip but it’s a nice ride,” he said. “Very scenic.”
Counterbalancing the new colored photos, Burdick also vends historical black-and-white pictures of Nicholson.
Trail Rotary Club held a contest, in which people had to identify members of the 1950’s Nicholson Rotary Club from old photos. Bob Gritman, a lifelong Nicholson resident, was able to identify the most people because his mother Helen Gritman, who was in one of the photos, was a member of the club back then. Trail Rotary Club also had a raffle basket for dogs.
At the end of Oak Street and Pine Street behind the Nicholson Post Office, people got to pet and hold rabbits from Country Cove Rabbitry in Factoryville. It breeds rabbits for show and specializes in velveteen lops, mini lops, and English lops. This is Country Cove’s fourth year attending Bridge Day.
“It’s a very fun event,” said Rob Santarelli, who co-owns the rabbitry with his wife Cindy. “Very family-oriented.”
In the same area, Clarks Summit resident Maria Fanning, coordinator of civic engagement and service learning at Keystone College, along with Keystone College seniors, allowed children to play many fun activities such as hula hoops, frisbee, wiffle ball, soccer, bubbles, and jump rope. If the kids tried any one of these activities, they were eligible for free candy.
Keystone College has been doing this ever since it was invited by Wellings, Women’s Club treasurer, to help out for the 100th anniversary of Bridge Day in 2015. Since Fanning enjoys helping people, she decided to continue providing fun stuff for kids to do on Bridge Day.
“I (also) plan service projects for students to enjoy as they help others,” she said.
Fanning credits the big number of children who participated to the foot traffic from the Country Cove Rabbitry.
There were also events in the parking lot of the First National Bank on Main Street where kids and adults competed in a bubble gum blowing contest. The gum was from Johnny & Jac’s Sweet Shop, a candy store which opened on Main Street a couple of years ago. Kiley Wood, who won the contest in her age group, attends Bridge Day every year.
“I live up the street so I come every year,” Wood said.
Also in the bank’s parking lot, there were performances by T-Town Twirlers, Mountain View High School Band, and a presentation of Phoebe Snow and conductor.
Bob Frey, dressed as the conductor and his wife Mary “Phoebe Snow” Frey, donning her white dress, gloves and parasol, gave a presentation about the history of the fictional character, created by the DL& W Railroad (Delaware, Lackawanna, & Western Railroad) in 1903. He said author Mark Twain’s suit stayed white all the while riding the railroad during the time when most trains threw cinders and ash on passengers’ clothing. Frey said Twain sent letters of praise to the railroad executive William Truesdale, who decided to begin an advertising campaign of Phoebe Snow. He said one of the jingles was “Her gown stayed white from morn to night on the route of anthracite.”
The Freys, who both volunteer at Steamtown National Park by dressing as the conductor and Phoebe Snow, attended last year’s Bridge Day just for fun. When they met with members of the Nicholson Women’s Club, Bob suggested they dress up and do the presentations.
“I told them we would do this because how could you have a Lackawanna Railroad without Phoebe Snow?” he said. “So, we decided to volunteer and help this year.”
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