HERMITAGE – It didn’t rain on anyone’s parade, but a few people got wet during the opening ceremonies for the 39th annual Buhl Day festivities Monday.

After a morning parade down East State Street in Hermitage and Sharon and into the Buhl Park, activities there began with a ceremony at the Performing Arts Center amphitheater.

Sue McLaughlin, Buhl Day co-chair, gave a rundown of the history of Buhl Day, in which the community celebrates every Labor Day in honor of the late industrialist Frank Buhl and his wife, Julia.

“The formula is food, fun and fanfare,” McLaughlin said. “The summer’s last hurrah.”

The crowds were a little thinner than usual inside the park, perhaps because of the dark skies that threatened to burst open throughout the day.

Honored guest Joe George said he and his wife, Ruthanne Beighley, also an honored guest, rented a bridal suite at the Avalon in Buhl Park country club and were going to celebrate the day with friends and family.

Jim Mondok, the other honored guest, was going to find his wife, Christine, and they would walk around the park and enjoy the activities.

As the three Shenango Valley residents were being introduced, the rain began to fall, and those in attendance put up their umbrellas or braved the short burst of rain under the the green canopy of foliage.

McLaughlin thanked the Buhl Day Committee. Her co-chairs were Ann U’Halie, Karen Emmett, Carol Simon and Terry Whalen.

The Buhl Day Committee meets monthly beginning in April and, although they have become a “well-oiled machine,” McLaughlin said, they are always in need of volunteers.

Donations are always welcome, she added.

Throughout the day, people strolled the 300-acre park, stopping for food at the many booths run by local organizations, listening to live entertainment or treating the kids to activities such as a petting zoo and inflatable bounce play.

The Buhls built the park in Hermitage more than a century ago in 1915 and gave it to the community, one of their myriad local philanthropic efforts. Buhl Day originated that summer as a tribute to the couple. It ran annually through 1946 then resumed in 1980 on Labor Day, which was rechristened “Buhl Day” in the Shenango Valley.

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