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Boalsburg Memorial Day Weekend Set to Begin; Sen. Casey to Speak at Service

by and on May 24, 2018 5:00 AM

As the nation was still in the midst of the Civil War in 1864, three women decorated the graves of soldiers buried in the Boalsburg cemetery.

The gesture by Emma Hunter, Sophie Keller and Elizabeth Myers was the start of a tradition, one which stakes Boalsburg's claim as the birthplace of Memorial Day.

Though other towns lay claim to the same title, there's no disputing that the Harris Township village's annual commemoration has become a major draw for people from central Pennsylvania and beyond. And once again this year, Boalsburg's Memorial Day weekend will be filled with fun events, celebrations of heritage and honoring the sacrifices of the fallen.

The celebration kicks off Thursday night with the start of the Boalsburg Fire Company Carnival and continues through to Monday night, concluding with the 6 p.m. memorial service at the cemetery.

U.S. Sen Bob Casey will be the featured speaker at the service. Harris Township Manager Amy Farkas said a member of Casey's staff has ties to Boalsburg and that the senator's office approached the township about Casey participating in the event. Last year, Casey sent a letter that was read during the service.

The carnival will be held on the carnival grounds behind the fire station through Monday (see below for times). It will feature midway rides and games and multiple food stands with barbecue chicken, hot sausage sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and more. 

Saturday is parade day with lineup at 3 p.m. and the parade starting at 5 p.m. The carnival will be open after the parade until 10 p.m.

“It is a big tradition here, the parade and the carnival, all part of the celebration here in Boalsburg,” said assistant fire chief Greg Alters. “It is one of our three biggest fundraisers, but more than that, it is our chance to interact with the public and show what we are all about.”

The parade brings fire companies from around the county and gives them a chance to show off all the hard work they do to keep their equipment in tip-top shape.

It also serves as a friendly competition for area emergency responders. All fire apparatus and ambulance are judged prior to the parade, with the chance of winning a trophy for being the best in their class. 

“It is a matter of pride for the different companies to win a trophy, something to brag about,” said Alters. “But, mostly, it is fun for the companies to be in the parade and show off to the community all that hard work we do so that we are prepared to help in an emergency.”

On Saturday and Sunday, the Pennsylvania Military Museum hosts World War II Revisited: Living History Bivouac, with living historians encamped on the grounds, portraying field life in the European Theater of Operations in 1944 and 1945. A short history of the war begins at 12:45 p.m., immediately followed by a tactical demonstration against German opposition. The bivouac is open to the public 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Joey Vincent will provide musical entertainment at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. 

Memorial Day on Monday is A Day in Town, with a full slate of events. The day kicks off with the 38th Annual Boalsburg Memorial Day Run. Registration begins at 7 a.m. and the 3.8 mile run or walk begins at 8:30 a.m. in Blue Spring Park , winding through the historic village.

Festivities take place from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with live music and entertainment, food, more than 150 vendors, the Boalsburg Garden Club Plant Sale, a children's carnival, blacksmithing demonstrations, and fruit pie contest.

Boal Mansion Museum also will be open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with Civil War re-enactors, live music, food, arts and crafts vendors, historic demonstrations and tours of the armory and Columbus Chapel. 

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Military Museum grounds, the regional chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America will host its annual car show, with pre-war through modern classics on display throughout the grounds. The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The day concludes with a walk to the cemetery from the Diamond at 5:45 p.m. and a memorial service at 6 p.m.


May 24

6-10 p.m. Boalsburg Fire Company Carnival, Wristband Night - $15 unlimited rides.

May 25

6-10 p.m. Boalsburg Fire Company Carnival

May 26

9 am.-noon Pre-registration for Memorial Day Run, Blue Spring Park

10 a.m.-4 p.m. PA Military Museum Open; World War II Revisited: Living History Bivouac

1:30-5 p.m.  Boal Mansion Museum open

5 p.m.  Boalsburg Fire Company Parade

After parade-10 p.m. Boalsburg Fire Company Carnival

May 27

9 am.-noon Pre-registration for Memorial Day Run, Blue Spring Park

10 a.m.-4 p.m. PA Military Museum Open; World War II Revisited: Living History Bivouac

1:30-5 p.m.  Boal Mansion Museum open

2-6 p.m. Boalsburg Fire Company Carnival, Wristband Day - $15 unlimited rides

May 28

8:30 a.m. 38th annual Boalsburg Memorial Day Run, Blue Spring Park

9 a.m.-3 p.m.  Children's Carnival, St. John's Church

9 a.m.-4 p..m.  Boalsburg Garden Club Plant Sale

9 a.m.-5 p.m.  AACA Car Show, PA Military Museum

10 a.m.-11 a.m.  Organ recital by Ryan Ditmer at St. John's United Church of Christ

10 a.m.-4 p.m.  150 vendors on Church and Main Streets

10 a.m.-4 p.m. Boalsburg Fire Company Carnival

10 a.m.-4 p.m. Civil War re-enactors, Battery B cannon firings, arts and craft vendors and historic demonstrations at Boal Mansion

10 a.m.-4 p.m. Boalsburg Heritage Museum open for tours; soup and bread sale will be held in the barn on the museum property 

10 a.m.-4 p.m. Blacksmith Shop demonstrations on the east side of the Township Building, 224 E. Main St.

10 a.m.-5 p.m. PA Military Museum open

10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Live entertainment at the stage on the Diamond

10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Live music at Boal Mansion

11 a.m.  Judging for the Cramer Landscaping Fruit Pie Contest

11 a.m.-4 p.m. - Armory and Chapel tours on the hour (fee); medieval knight combat; vintage carriages and bicycles; 19th century ice cream making at Boal Mansion.

1-2 p.m. Essay contest at Boalsburg Heritage Museum

2 p.m. to 4 p.m. - Dan and Galla Musical Show at the Boalsburg Heritage Museum

5:45 p.m. - Walk to the cemetery from the Diamond

6 p.m. - Cemetery service, Sen. Bob Casey, guest speaker

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.

Vincent Corso is writer for Town&Gown and the Centre County Gazette.
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