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By: JACQUELINE WATSON Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer
Long before the fireworks of the Fourth of July night began, Lititz Spring Park was exploding with celebration.
Despite the hot temperatures, celebrants were already lounging, playing, strolling and picnicking throughout the park before the first scheduled activities of the day began at 1 p.m. For some attendees, it was their first year at the festival. For others, such as Henry and Eileen Bowman who have been attending for a decade, it is an annual event.
In every direction, children could be seen playing, dressed in red, white and blue from the ribbons in their hair to their American flag dresses. It is no wonder that a baby parade was begun in the park 75 years ago.
The baby parade has been held off and on over the years, with this year marking the 23rd consecutive Annual Baby Parade sponsored by the Lititz Women of Today.
The baby floats ranged from Lizzie Motz’s entry, practically bursting with patriotic flair, to the fireworks-themed wagon carrying baby Laney Malusky and creatively using hydrangeas as fireworks. Lily and Carter Walls honored both soldiers and nurses of the past as they rolled by in their makeshift hospital float. Dressed as a pilot in her cardboard plane, Elynn Downing was modeling after her dad, a United States Air Force pilot. Her float read, "My Dad, My Hero." Each contestant participated in the spirit of the competition. Of course, unofficial winners of the day included the Lititz Women of Today. These women carry on this tradition as a service to the community.
"It’s just a fun way to be involved in the community. Give the kids something fun to do, or parents…," LWT member Lori Cole said laughingly.
"Because it’s history. To keep the tradition going," Pam Naumann said of her involvement.
Jenn Johnston’s reason for entering her daughters Kaitlyn and Marlie in the baby parade fits this purpose.
"We like traditions, so we thought we’d start one," she said.
Only having moved to the area within the past year, Johnston learned about the competition the previous day, and in the intervening time, made colonial style costumes for her daughters to wear for the parade.
Best Float was awarded to Lily and Carter Walls. The Delmar Landis Grand Prize was also awarded to the Walls siblings. This was the first year this award was given by the Landis family in memory of Delmar Landis.
First place for Best Use of Theme "Our American Heroes" was awarded to Elizabeth (Lizzie) Motz, second place to Elynn Downing, and third place to Carly Ruchalski.
First place for Most Creative was given to Lucy Taylor, second to Marissa George, and third to Laney Melusky.
First place for Best Hometown Spirit was awarded to Jenna Jones, second to Leah Fisher, and third place to Ellyanna Speece.
Other daytime activities at the celebration included games such as a three-legged races and an ostrich egg relay hosted by the United Zion Retirement Community. Passersby found themselves convinced to join in the fun by game announcer Ladonna Upton.
Lititz Women of Today led the usual panning for gold event. Kids cooled off in the stream as they searched for "gold" and eagerly gathered around General John A. Sutter, portrayed by Jim Nuss, to exchange their gold colored rocks for quarters.
For those looking for a more restful event, there was a children’s story time with the animated Rita Clarke in the shade of a pavilion. Another option included sitting by the stream to have a caricature drawn by Sam Mylin. Energetic photo memories were captured in the SmileBooth. For those who were just really hungry, there was a pie eating contest with pies donated by Stauffers of Kissel Hill.
Sebastian Janoski launched the stage performances with his singing of the National Anthem. Following Janoski were the New Line Revue dancers, now known as Dance Dynamics, bringing energy onto the stage.
Scattered throughout the park were re-enactors from the Revolutionary War, Civil War and World War II. These volunteers made presenting on a hot day look easy as they stood wearing their uniforms in the sweltering heat. It’s not easy, according to Gwen Newell of Manheim, but they did not spend the time complaining. Newell, who is with the German Regiment Revolutionary War re-enactors, points out that one of the most uncomfortably warm parts of her costume is the undergarment, and she does not even exclude this piece of authenticity. Gary Myers, from just outside of Lititz, also of the German Regiment, shared some of his personal reasons for being a part of re-enactments.
"To preserve history," he said. "Today we’re so quick to forget."
The Civil War re-enactors ranged from soldiers to medical staff. They were a wellspring of historic information from the era they were representing.
Both individuals and organizations formed the extensive World War II display. Participant Richard Ryder attributes his dad, who was in World War II and died shortly after Ryder graduated from high school, as his inspiration for re-enactment. He expressed the importance of not only honoring veterans, but also teaching the next generation to honor them through imparting history to youth.
"Preserving history, teaching the young and saying thanks to my dad," says Ryder of his reasons for re-enactment.
Along with presenters of military life, there were also those representing the home front during World War II. The organization Reflections of World War II had available for tours a trailer decorated as the inside of a single working woman’s apartment in 1941. Adding to the authenticity of the display was the live music of the Moonlighters beginning at 2:30 p.m. Surrounded by the World War II era display, the band played such classics as the 1940s hit "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."
The re-enactors’ presence was a way of not only honoring current American heroes, but also those from throughout American history. More BABY PARADE, page A15