Even though organizers of the borough of Greenville’s 175th anniversary celebration were only toddlers the last time the town threw a birthday party, they’ve reached out to residents who have done it before and made plans to rock the town from April through October.
Organizers Josh Stevens, Jasson Urey and Meghan Heathcote, all in their 20s, planned events around the theme of “As Time Goes By” because they agreed it is important to note that while the town has changed dramatically since the sesquicentennial in 1988, many of the changes have been for the better.
Celebrating the borough every 25 years is a way to acknowledge those changes and remember the past, said Stevens, who is the mayor.
Urey, the borough’s manager, said smaller businesses and increased community involvement have brought about the desire to “recognize where we have come from.”
Support for the celebration, which kicks off with an anniversary parade on April 27, has been “amazing,” said Stevens, who also made note of 1,167 volunteers who gathered last year to build a playground. “That is where Greenville is going, a place where community involvement is incredible.”
An author and Greenville native, Sandra Ghost will be featured in the parade, Stevens said. A committee of about 15 members has been working for months to organize events and welcomes new members or input, he said.
One of the biggest events will be a fireworks celebration on July 5, Stevens said, and the $20,000 light show, put on by Zambelli International, will coincide with concerts. Because borough funds are limited, the committee is asking for donations to support the fireworks, he added.
Incorporated as a borough on May 28, 1838, Greenville was most widely known for manufacturing, railroad industries, bridge works, gristmills, an automobile manufacturer and saw and planing mills. At its peak in 1940, there were about 10,000 residents, according to a published history at the Greenville Historical Society. Currently there are fewer than 6,000 residents, according to Stevens.
“There are a lot of groups forming to improve the town,” he said, “There is a huge outpouring from all the residents. We seem to be a lot more community-minded,” said Urey. “We are all in this together and we’ve got to work together to keep our borough moving forward,” he added.
Urey said that despite their young ages, all were determined to make the celebration plans memorable. Like Stevens and Heathcote, he grew up in Greenville, he said, and wants to make sure his children have the same kinds of experiences as he did.
“We’re the future generation, the younger voices in town. It’s our responsibility to the older generations,” he added.
“This is my home. I can’t imagine being anywhere else. I want to teach my kids to be do-ers. It’s not enough to say what you want. You have to do your part and step up and be a part of what you want,” he said.
The three big events are the parade, the fireworks celebration and Heathcote’s favorite, the Black Tie Gala. Other smaller events are scattered throughout the year, as well.
Set at Thiel College, the formal dance will feature portraits of historical Greenville and participants will be photographed with an old-fashioned backdrop. There will be bands and hors d’oeuvres, almost “like an adult prom” she said. “We’re hoping to make memories people will cherish about Greenville,” she added.
Though money is tight, Heathcote said the committee is hoping to put a stone clock signifying “As Time Goes By” in Central Park next year.
A museum stroll, which includes a wine-tasting with cheese and crackers at three museums in the borough, is scheduled for late summer. “We’re hoping to have maybe a horse and buggy or an antique car to take people from one museum to the other,” she said.
A tentative schedule has been set, though Urey cautions “we are still in the planning stages.”
Anyone wishing to volunteer time or make a donation toward the fireworks can contact Stevens at 724-815-7341 or Heathcote at 724-813-0345.