TUNKHANNOCK — A mere 175 years ago, it was a bustling town that became incorporated into a borough.
On June 25, Tunkhannock was bustling with residents and tourists celebrating the men and women who established it as an official town. It was the borough’s annual Founder’s Day celebration, something that’s been happening on the Saturday after Father’s Day for 34 years.
The party centered itself in the downtown with closed-off streets so residents and visitors alike could wander up and down, browsing in vendors’ booths, talking, visiting with old friends.
In the lobby of the Dietrich Theater on West Tioga Street, folks could get a glimpse into the town’s past, with cases lined with antiques, photos and a few mini-history lessons. There was also an art exhibit in the lobby, and inside one of the theaters in this mini-complex, lecturers gave even more detailed history lessons about the town and the surrounding area.
And that’s where natives and strangers alike could sign up for the new walking tour to visit historic buildings and sites throughout the borough.
For John Corsey, though, history wasn’t terribly important. For the 4-year-old from Philadelphia, the only thing that mattered was getting colored sand into a bottle. When he got the sand “packed down really good” into the small bottle, he capped it so he could take it home. And then he thought about getting his mom to buy ice cream.
His mom, Amber Corsey, said the family has a vacation home in the area and the whole family — from granddad to uncles and aunts to the littlest of cousins — makes it a point to be in town for the celebration every summer.
Joe and Betty Minchak make it a point to drive from their home in Duryea to enjoy the festivities.
“It’s the wandering around and the vendors and the nice people,” Betty Minchak said.
And there was plenty do to and see — and purchase — in the downtown area.
More than 150 vendor stands offered crafts, art, wood carvings, jewelry, clothing, antiques, painted glassware, decorated horseshoes, birdhouses with expired license plate roofs, even dog treats. There were games and face-painting for the kids in several spots around the downtown.
Dozens of civic organizations were on hand to pass out information. Almost every church in town had a stand offering anything from miniature Bibles to a puppet show.
There was entertainment. Visitors could hear music all throughout the town – on one or two corners and in as many booths on the street, someone had a guitar to entertain passers-by. In front of the People’s Security Bank, folding chairs lined the northbound lane in front of a backdrop where anyone from twirlers and dancers to barbershoppers to comedians and even more musicians kept visitors entertained throughout the day.
The Triton Hose Company and the Ambulance Association had tables lined with information about safety. The Wyoming County United Way sold rubber ducks for their annual Duck Derby. Both Republican and Democratic committees were out in full force with their campaign signs and election swag. The Daughters of the American Revolution chapter between them offered patriotic gear.
“We’re non-political, not affiliated with any party,” said the organization’s regent, Nancy Walter. “We’re just urging people to exercise their right to vote.”
Down the street, there was a car show.
“My dad is here with his Mustang,” said Gavin Freeman, 7, of Wilkes-Barre. His favorite part of the day was the Hot Wheels Batman Five-Pack with its miniature cars. But, he was hoping for ice cream to follow.
“It’s the food,” Joe Minchak said.
And there was food. Anything from cannollis to wraps to pulled pork and the usual bazaar fare. Lines were long for the strawberry shortcake, featuring cakes baked by town residents.
And, yes, there was that ice cream everyone wanted. It was in the tent manned by Boy Scout Troop 518.
“We’re raising money for our trip to Philmont next year,” said Zach Harris. Neither he nor Scoutmaster Dan Roote Jr. have been to the Scout Ranch in New Mexico and are working toward the trip with 30 scouts and leaders from the troop.
The best part of the whole event was the town working together, said Margie Young, program director at the Dietrich Theater.
“There’s a whole list of the town’s organizations who came together, and who do every year, for the events that go on here,” she said. “This is a wonderful town, organizations, neighbors, everyone pulling together for our community.”
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