The legacy continues Traditions make the Fourth Parade profile: Don Hedgecock Babies, we love your way

By on June 29, 2011

Don Hedgecock
Grand MarshalDon Hedgecock
Grand Marshal

Lititz’s big weekend has arrived.

The Lions Club will run their annual Fourth of July parade this Friday, and Saturday marks the 194th continuous celebration in Lititz Springs Park. This includes the 22nd annual baby parade, the 70th annual Queen of the Candles pageant, the 168th Illumination of the Candles along Lititz Run, and, of course, the fireworks.

With so much tradition in place, this year’s theme, "A Community Legacy," couldn’t be more appropriate.

"When I think of legacy, I think of a community that has celebrated our nation’s birthday continuously since 1818," said Ron Reedy, president of the Lititz Springs Park Board. "Lititz is one of the few communities that can lay claim to having one of the oldest continuous celebrations in the United States. Our celebration has always been a gathering for gala celebration. It is an event of community pride."

The Lions have selected one of their own, dedicated community volunteer Don Hedgecock, to lead this year’s parade as grand marshal (see related story on this page).

Lititz’s four days of Fourth culminate in the extravaganza that is Saturday in the Park, a cherished Lititz tradition.

Gates open at noon. Adult tickets are $10, and children ages 2-10 are $4. Adults can save a dollar on their tickets if purchased in advance (through July 1). Tickets are available at the Lititz Welcome Center, Bomberger’s Store, McElroy Pharmacy and Stauffers of Kissel Hill. All proceeds are used to maintain the park, which is a non-profit facility.

The park will be filled with kids games and food stands. There will be panning for gold with General Sutter (played by Randy Miller) and visits by the Phillie Phanatic, Silo from the Barnstormers and characters from Hersheypark.

The scheduled events include:

? National Anthem and Bell Ringing at 2 p.m.

? New Line Revue dancers at 2:10.

? Zumba party at 3:20.

? Baby parade at 4.

? Lititz Community Band on stage at 5.

? Corty Byron Acoustic Trio at 6:30.

? Queen of Candles pageant at 8.

? Illumination of Candles at 8:30.

? BREAK! (a high energy dancing and rhythm section) at 9.

? Synchronized pyromusical fireworks by Celebration Fireworks and Clair Global at 10:15.

With so many traditions in place, this year promises to be another full of memories for those who attend.

"The community-wide July 4th celebration in Lititz Springs Park will always be driven by the 194 year history," Reedy added. "Growing up in Lititz, the Fourth of July celebration and the Lititz Community Show (fair) held in October, were always the two big community-wide events. The Fourth of July was a time to not only celebrate our nation’s birthday, but it was a time to gather with family, friends, and neighbors. My mother would always make ham and string beans for dinner, which was a tradition by many families in Lititz. Then we, as a family, would journey to the park for the celebration. I would always look forward to sticking (placing) candles in the various wooden pieces for the grand illumination. The band concerts, baby parade, Queen of the Candles Pageant and fireworks were always anticipated.

"Many of the traditions that were part of the celebration when I was a young lad remain today."

But even traditions are subject to change, or at least adaptation.

"Today, the Fourth of July program in the park has become very high-tech, with more modern type entertainment," Reedy pointed out, "while keeping with tradition such as the Lititz Community Band, baby parade, Queen of the Candles, the grand candle illumination, and of course the fireworks, which are now choreographed to music.

"As we move forward, more changes will come, but I hope the historical emphasis will always remain. As Paul Foreman stated many years ago, ‘If you took the Fourth of July out of Lititz, it just wouldn’t be Lititz!’" The Lions Club Independence Celebration Parade is set for Friday and kicks into motion a busy holiday weekend. The patriotic march through downtown Lititz, which begins at 6:30 p.m., will be followed by free entertainment, courtesy of the Lions, in Lititz Springs Park as Flamin’ Dick and the Hot Rods return to the bandshell for another round of golden oldies.

The parade will follow last year’s route, forming on West Lincoln Avenue, Warwick and Kleine streets. The Lititz Police Department will lead the way starting at Kleine and North Broad streets, continuing south on Broad to Third Avenue, east on to Cedar Street, north to East Main, and then westward to the Square, where it disbands.

Lions Club members will distribute free balloons to children along the parade route and they will also be serving food in the park following the parade.

Don Hedgecock, longtime Lion and current resident of Moravian Manor, was recently announced as the grand marshal.

At age 91, he continues to serve his community through this civic organization, just like he has been doing for the past 52 years. His run as a Lion began in Maine; he moved to Lititz in 1981.

While in Maine, some of Hedgecock’s positions with the Lions included zone chairman, district governor, district cabinet secretary-treasurer, Lion tamer, tail twister, director, 1st vice president, president, secretary and membership chairman.

After joining the Lititz chapter, some of his positions included second vice-president, president for two terms and director for two years.

Additionally, he won the Lion of the Year Award in 1985, the Melvin Jones Award in 1988, 100% Presidential Award in 1994, the International Certificate of Appreciation in 1995, 50-Year Service Monarch Award and 50 Years Perfect Attendance in 2010.

This October, he is set to receive his 51st Year of Perfect Attendance Award.

"I did not realize what he has done until I looked up all these awards. He is a credit to Lions and a credit to our club. He is most deserving as our grand marshal this year," said Bob Criswell, parade chairperson.

Born in Nebraska, Hedgecock is a retired chemist who worked for Hamilton Watch in Lancaster and for the U.S. Air Force.

"I’m happy to be able to serve," he said of his time with the club. "It’s a pleasure, and I enjoy the camaraderie of the Lions."

As he parades through downtown Lititz on July 1, he said he’ll be thinking about all the times he’s been able to help out. His family, including his daughter and grandchildren, will be there cheering him on. While the Fourth of July baby parade legacy made its Lititz Springs Park debut in 1937, Saturday marks the 22nd year that it’s been sponsored by the Lititz Women of Today. After a few bumps along the road, the parade is running stronger than ever and is one of the highlights of the four-day Fourth.

This year’s baby parade, part of the full day of festivities on July 2, will meander through the park beginning at 4 p.m.

Historically, this event was part of the July 4th celebrations up to and including 1959, after which the event was eliminated from the park program. In 1986, Lititz Mayor Roy B. Clair Jr. encouraged its revival, and that’s when the Lititz Woman’s Club stepped up as the official baby parade sponsor.

Spectators lining the walkway along Lititz Run to view the passing babies was a welcome return. Led by a small contingent of baton twirlers from "Aquarius," 14 entrants in strollers, wagons, floats and even shopping carts marched to the delight of viewers that year. The club brought it back in 1987, but it dried up the following two years. In 1990, the Lititz Women of Today revived it once again, and it has been going strong since.

This year, four categories will be judged — best use of theme, most creative, best float and best hometown spirit.

Registration starts at 3 p.m., near the park round house on the north side of Lititz Run. The parade will start from the there at 4 p.m. and will be led by the Lancaster Barnstomers mascot Cylo and characters from Hersheypark.

Crown bearer Matthew Geib and flower girl Audrey Haven — part of the 70th Queen of the Candles court — will lead the parade around the park.

The group of youngsters will proceed down the path from the round house to the arched bridge, staying on the north side of the stream, then proceed east to the next bridge, crossing over, proceeding west on the south side of the stream to the arched bridge and then crossing over again and going around the parade route for a second time. Judges will be located in front of the Reedy Pavilion. More LEGACY, page A2 More LIONS PARADE, page A2 More BABY PARADE, page A2

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