In 1976, the American people were in need of something to celebrate. The turbulent “Sixties” were over but Vietnam and Watergate were still open wounds. The country’s bicentennial in 1976 was a good place to start the healing process. Throughout the year events were being held across the nation. Nanticoke City leaders were at the forefront of planning for a memorable celebration. On Memorial Day weekend a three-day event was planned for Central Park. There were shows, contests for children, dancers, musical acts and multitudes of people enjoying the festivities well into the night. The Memorial Day Parade was expected to be one of the most impressive events to be held in the history of Nanticoke. It did not disappoint. Over 25,000 people watched as 95 churches, organization and schools, with over 175 units of floats, marching bands and decorated vehicles passed in review... An estimated 95% of the approximately 2000 participants were from the city.
Lt. Col Andrew W. Winiarczyk, U.S. Army Ret., chaired the parade, assisted by Ronald Stashak, Al Ruck, James Goodwin, Millard Hafele, John Uren, Thomas Ellwood, Harold Welch, Melvin Swithers and Gary Bray. The color guard from the 109thArtillery led the parade. Committee chairman Frank Knorek, Millard Galat and Jule Zaniecki Co-chairmen and Winiarczyk rode in the official Bicentennial Car. Listed as “in the place of honor” in the parade, was Deborah Lupco of Nanticoke, who had been selected Miss Wyoming Valley that year. The Fishing Creek Confederates, a fife and drum corps from Bloomsburg, performed Civil War era music. The event was heralded as “unparalleled” in newspaper accounts.
With the memory of the successful Memorial Day celebration still fresh, Col. Winiarczyk and his committee unveiled plans for a 4th of July commemoration for Central Park. Nanticoke’s churches, schools, fire departments and residents participated in a national ringing of bells at 2 p.m., the time 200 years before the Liberty Bell chimed heralding the country’s independence,
The city's “newly adopted Coat of Arms was introduced and displayed. Central Park was dedicated as “Patriot Square” in a program that included Paul E. Kanjorski, Joseph A. Grabowski, John Castagna, Judge Arthur Dalessandro, Stanley Glazenski, Congressman Daniel Flood, Leonard Omolecki, Fred Shupnik and Thomas Hill.
Winiarczyk asked residents to wear attire and carry flags representative of their native land. Those participating were Rachael Welch and Kim Stankovic, as a colonial couple; Arthur Reese Trevethan and Beth Ann Trevethan, pioneer couple; Jeffrey Pollock, Native American; Lisa Marie Stashak, Czechoslovakia, Mitchel Braeta, England; George Dutton, Germany; Margaret Callahan, Ireland; Linda Williams, Israel; Donna Micocci, Italy, Soni Mailander, Korea; Theresa Webby, Lebanon; Ann Marie Glazenski, Lithuania; Tim Chong, Malalysia; Susan Michaels, Poland; Darcia Guravich, Russia; Bobby Allan Welch, Syria; Bohdan Krawczeniuk, Ukraine and Suzanne Edwards, Wales. George Pelas emigrated from Greece to the United Stated in 1914. He spoke on the subject, “ What America Means to Me.” Kiet Huynh, who came to the United States in 1975 from Saigon, South Vietnam, spoke as well.
Also participating were descendants Revolutionary War heroes. Pictured left to right are Richard Buttrick, descendant of Major John Buttrick, who commanded the troops at North Bridge at Concord and on April 19, 1775, was the Minuteman who, “fired the shot heard 'round the world.” Carroll C. Moorhead, descendant of Charles Carroll one of the 58 signers of the Declaration of Independence, James J. Kelly Jr. and Ralph C. Gates, descendants of Major Gen. Horatio Gates, first Adjutant General of the Continental Army and victor over Gen. John Burgoyne in the Battle of Saratoga and Ruth Bloom Yeager and Robert Vincent Yeager, descendants of Daniel Boone, diplomat, pioneer and Revolutionary War officer.
For posterity the names of those participating in the bicentennial celebration were recorded on an official document. Each received a copy. The original documents were placed in a Time Capsule and buried in Patriot Park.
Submitted by Judy Minsavage for NHS