Together, Lower Makefield celebrated the unofficial end of summer on Sunday with fun, food and fireworks.
Yardley-Makefield >> Despite Monday’s inclement weather, hundreds of people grabbed their rain gear and headed to Main Street on Monday to honor the men and women who have given their lives in defense of freedom. As the town’s annual Memorial Day Parade stepped off with a patroitic flourish of red, white and blue and with light drizzle turning into a heavier shower, cheers and applause erupted as the local veterans marched down Main Street. The veterans, some of them wearing their dress uniforms and all of them wearing red poppies, paraded proudly down the street waving to the unexpectedly large crowd. Their day began early with visits to area cemeteries and memorials where they led solemn salutes in the damp morning air to the area’s fallen soldiers. A formal ceremony followed at the Veterans Memorial at East Afton and Delaware avenues where speakers recalled the sacrifices that paid for the freedoms enjoyed today.
LOWER MAKEFIELD >> An eye-catching sculpture of a dress made out of tree bark dominates one of the walls inside the AOY Art Center on the sprawling Paterson Farm. On another wall, a menacing tarantula floats in space. And on yet another wall, a stunning digital photograph of a red rose draws the eye. The center is popping with the creativity, ingenuity and talent of Pennsbury High School seniors this month as the Artists of Yardley hosts its first ever “Art Majors Emerging” show in partnership with the Pennsbury School District. AOY artists and liaisons to Pennsbury, Fran Leyenberger and Anne Gannon, inspired this juried student show, the first of its kind stemming from a new partnership formed between the AOY Art Center and the Pennsbury School District. Leyenberger has been creating ceramic and raku art for 45 years and is an original member of AOY. She attributes her lifelong love of art to her high school art teachers and claims this is her way to “pay it forward,” adding, “There is great talent in these students and we have an amazing Art Department and teachers at Pennsbury.”
YARDLEY >> Parents and children warmed up with hot chocolate as they waited for a chance to step inside Santa’s brand new workshop at Buttonwood Park Saturday night. Inside his cozy little home away from home, Santa and Mrs. Claus greeted youngsters and listened to their wishes as parents took photographs and video of the special childhood moment. Built by Rich Cole and Carl Perella with help from members of the Pennsbury National Honor Society and the support of the Yardley Business Association, Santa will be at his workshop for the next two Saturdays - Dec. 10 and 17 from 1 to 3 p.m. - to listen to their holiday wishes. The debut of Santa’s new workshop followed this year’s McCaffrey’s Food Markets Olde-Fashioned Christmas Parade, also organized by the Yardley Business Association, which drew thousands to the streets of town for a magical holiday experience. An American Legion Post 317 Color Guard led this year’s march followed by a large contingent of superheroes, princesses and others fantasy characters. Riding aboard Brad Varney’s antique truck were members of the Yardleyville Protective Company, including Wendy Varney, Sue Bissert, Ralph Nuzzolo, Lori Rousseau, Bill Moculak and Pat Miiller. The vigilante group, formed in the days before organized law enforcement, posted rewards and chased down thieves during the 1800s. Today, they gather once a year to keep the tradition alive. Next up in the parade was the McCaffrey’s Food Markets float featuring Jim McCaffrey riding a sleigh through a field of candycanes and red and white ribbons. Also joining the parade was Michelle Sharer, the president of the Friends of Lake Afton, who rode through town with two toy Mallards on the hood of the car and two duck puppets in her hand. Lower Makefield Supervisor Jeff Benedetto and State Representative-elect Perry Warren also joined the parade while Supervisor Judi Reiss drove her car down the parade route.
LOWER MAKEFIELD - The township honored its veterans Sunday afternoon with a flag-waving, patriotic parade on Edgewood Road followed by a moving ceremony at Veterans Square Park that included a special tribute to the late Drew Swider. All along the parade route leading to Veterans Square Monument, applause filled the air as veterans – beaming with pride - marched by on foot and waved to the crowds from vehicles. Among them was this year's parade marshal, U.S. Army aviator Joseph Keller who served as a Cobra attack helicopter pilot with the 101st Airborne Division during Vietnam. For his service to the nation, he was awarded five Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Bronze Star, 42 air medals for flying more than 1,000 combat hours, the Army commendation medal and a Cross of Gallantry. Also joining the march were leaders and members of American Legion Post 317 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6393, a U.S. Marine Corps League color guard, military vehicles, the Korean War Veterans Association, antique vehicles, the Falls Township American Legion Color Guard, area Scouts, the Pennsbury School District and the award-winning Pennsbury High School Marching Band under the direction of Frank Mazzeo. The parade was followed by a ceremony at Veterans Square Park which paid tribute to veterans, living and deceased, for their service to the nation. The ceremony was led by Master of Ceremonies Jeff Benedetto, the chairman of the Lower Makefield Board of Supervisors who was joined on stage by retiring U.S. Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, State Rep. Steve Santarsiero and other dignitaries.
Marching onto the field to perform in this year’s festival were some of the best high school marching bands in the region including William Tennent and Harry S Truman from Bucks County, Cheltenham High School from Montgomery County and Cherry Hill High School East and Montgomery High School, both from New Jersey. Cherry Hill, Montgomery and William Tennant received superior ratings while Cheltenham and Truman received outstanding ratings. Montgomery won for best woodwinds and brass, best music and best marching. Cheltenham won best drum major and best color guard. And Cherry Hill won for best percussion. In addition, the festival featured an exhibition performance by Pennsbury’s own “Long Orange Line.” Drum major Reed Grumann led the band in this year’s field show, “Celebration of a New Day,” arranged by marching band director Frank Mazzeo. The festival capped off Pennsbury’s competition season, which included appearances at theMusic in Cadence competition in West Deptford, New Jersey, and the Region Three Band Championships at Appoquinimink High School in Middletown, Delaware. “We did very well this year. We were first place in region three for Tournament of Bands. We also won for best percussion, best drum major and best overall music,” said Mazzeo.
Close to 400 hand-carved pumpkins – a record number this year - stretch for a quarter of a mile north along Edgewater Avenue from the East Afton Avenue canal bridge, capturing the spirit and magic of the Halloween season. The old-fashion, low-tech, family celebration of Halloween kicks off every year with a hugely-popular community Carve-O-Thon, where young and old gather on the Sunday before Halloween to create the jack-o-lanterns used to line the towpath. The serious carvers use power tools to create intricate designs, while others just use old-fashioned elbow grease and knives to work their creative magic on the pumpkins, which were purchased and donated by Charlann Farms in Lower Makefield. “I can’t believe the turnout today. It’s hard to imagine that nine years ago when we started this there were just a handful of people carving 25 or 30 pumpkins,” said Team Canal-O-Ween leader Tammy Marshall. “This is huge,” she said.
In a moving and beautiful Remembrance in Light ceremony replete with symbolism, the community bowed its collective head to remember, reflect and honor the memory of the 2,977 souls taken that day at the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and in a field in Western Pennsylvania.
Indeed, everywhere you looked on Sunday afternoon and evening at the fields and picnic grounds off of Edgewood Road there were smiles, happy faces and plenty of community pride and spirit.