A three-day mini-carnival and a two-hour parade wrapped up a year of events celebrating Fleetwood borough’s 150th anniversary.
“It has been an exciting, community-building year for Fleetwood,” Fleetwood Mayor Tammy Gore said. “It began in April with the pageant to choose four women and girls that best represent Fleetwood’s values in the upcoming celebration events.”
Crowned Fleetwood royalty were Little Miss Fleetwood Giahna Strahin, Jr. Miss Fleetwood Paisley Grace Bryniarski, Miss Fleetwood Natalia Cabrera and Ms. Fleetwood Julia Kaskey. Joining them in the parade was Miss Pennsylvania Miranda Moore.
“Then we had a carnival with more vendors and top-notch entertainment than ever before,” Gore said. “The gala was like nothing we’ve ever had in the borough with the premiere of ‘Finding Fleetwood’ documentary produced by Fleetwood’s own Eric Schaeffer and narrated by Kathie Lee Gifford, that can now be found on YouTube.”
The yearlong celebration included a car show that featured an original 1931 Cadillac built in Fleetwood, a dinner and dancing celebration held at the Grange and many other happenings throughout the year, the mayor said.
“We’ve placed our first tiger in the center of town. Artists Elaine Hilbert and Rebecca Holh designed and captured our past on this tiger that depicts what has led to Fleetwood today,” Gore said.
“Patches” the tiger is the first of many artist-rendered tigers that will be placed throughout the borough thanks to Caren Cornman, chair of the Tiger Nation initiative, Gore said.
“All of these events have been building to the finale where we had a three-day carnival with outstanding entertainment and the fall festival business fair on Main Street on Saturday (Sept. 30),” said Gore. “This was followed by a two-hour parade with so much excitement and included two Mummers bands, Shriners, high school bands, floats and so much more. The streets were packed with young and old alike with a sea of smiles, while children anxiously waited to collect candy.”
The parade was followed by the housing of Fleetwood’s new Rescue #45 truck, with many fire companies throughout the area there to celebrate.
The day ended with Chuck Mead and the Grassy Knoll Band performing at Fleetwood Park.
“It was a day, a year, that residents will talk about for many years to come,” Gore said. “The sense of excitement and pride in our community was electric.”
The celebration’s last series of events included a fireworks show Friday night, Oct. 6, at the high school football field. Gore described it as the largest fireworks display the borough had ever seen. It was followed by a nondenominational church service Oct. 8 at Fleetwood Park.
The mayor thanked the FCCO, under the direction of chair Kelly Ebeling-Schaeffer, and the many volunteers and participants.
“Together they have elevated the community unity to a new level,” Gore concluded. “Fleetwood — everyone’s hometown! I couldn’t be prouder to be the mayor of this amazing community that has truly come together to make this a celebration to remember!”
The weekend anniversary celebration started Thursday, Sept. 28, with a three-night mini-carnival in Fleetwood Park sponsored by the FCCO. In addition to Mead’s Saturday show, there were performances by the New Individuals on Sept. 28 and Sloth Love Chunk on Sept. 29.
The celebration continued Sept. 30, with the annual Main Street Fair featuring area merchants, restaurants and crafters.
150th Anniversary Parade
Following the business fair, spectators lined the borough’s streets for the 150th anniversary parade organized by the FCCO and Fleetwood Fire Company.
“The two teams worked together to bring the biggest parade to Fleetwood in over 25 years and included over 120 participants and over 50 fire apparatus including Mummer bands from Philadelphia and fire apparatus from as far away as Lancaster,” said Borough Manager Chris Young, who serves on the FCCO as co-chair of the summer carnival and is a past chief and current member of the fire company.
The parade started at Fleetwood High School and wrapped around town down Main Street and then back to the school.
“The participants in the two-hour parade were very impressed with the amount of spectators lining the streets, and children along the route were treated with ample amounts of candy!” Young said.
Fleetwood Police and Fleetwood American Legion Honor Guard led the parade lineup that included the mayor, borough council, the recreation board, District Justice Gail Greth, Sen. Judy Schwank, Rep. Madeleine Dean, Rep. Dave Maloney and Berks County Commissioners Christian Leinbach and Michael Rivera, to name a few.
In addition to two Mummers bands, the parade included bands, floats and everything Fleetwood to commemorate the 150th anniversary, including Fleetwood and Brandywine Heights area high school marching bands, Fleetwood Area High School Class of 1968, Fleetwood Grange and Rotary Club, Fleetwood Hillclimb, Fleetwood Life Line – EMS, Rajah Shriners and floats by businesses.
“I was very impressed by the Fleetwood Public Works crew in prepping for the week and cleaning up after, and Fleetwood fire police and surrounding fire police for their volunteer service in traffic control during the parade,” Young said. “Fleetwood police also did an excellent job and had extra officers on duty to assist with the parade and festivities.”
After the parade, the Fleetwood Fire Company had a housing ceremony for its new, heavy-duty rescue truck and hosted a party in the engine room.
Young said the community response to the parade was overwhelmingly positive. A few comments shared with the borough included: “Fantastic job to all the organizers,” and, “The parade was well organized, great floats and bands!” as well as, “The fire company housing was a nice event after the parade and the fire company party and carnival after let everyone have some fun after the busy day.”
Young said that what made it a great community event was community organizations coming togethe, seeing the joy on the spectators’ faces and the entire community involvement throughout the months of anniversary celebrations.
“The FCCO committees who chaired the individual events throughout the year, not just the parade, did a great job,” he said.
Ebeling-Schaeffer, FCCO president for 12 years, chaired the yearlong celebration. Her husband, Joel Schaeffer, and Gary Eberly chaired the parade. Chair of the parade fire apparatus was Ricky Kerschner from Fleetwood Fire Company. The mini-carnival was chaired by Doreen and Erin O’Neil.
“The goal from the beginning when Joel, Gary and myself sat down to develop this parade was to not try to duplicate what we were all involved in 50 years ago with that parade, but to embrace the new Fleetwood that we have become,” Ebeling-Schaeffer said. “Bring together everyone young and old, new residents and lifelong residents and celebrate.”
“I have to personally say, we accomplished that way beyond our wildest dreams two years ago when we started planning,” she added. “The community really came out and not only participated but supported along the sidelines. It is a testament to community!”
The three organizers were the last to participate in the parade because of their duties organizing the divisions.
“As we walked the route, the outpouring of thanks and support was overwhelming,” Ebeling-Schaeffer said. “People kept asking me, ‘Was this the end of the parade?’ And it had already gone on for over two hours. I said, ‘Yes, we are the end,’ and they replied, ‘Can you bring the parade back around again?’”
“That gave me goosebumps, knowing that people not only were not bored but they wanted more and were excited to be a part of history.”
Parade winners included Fleetwood Memories, Fleetwood Area Public Library, Touching the Future LLC, Fleetwood Historical Society, Mae A. Stump Funeral Home, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Tracey’s Flowers, Fleetwood Grange No. 1839, Rotary Club of Fleetwood and Fleetwood Volunteer Fire Company.
Fire apparatus awards were as follows.
Best Appearing & Equipped Engine (2015 & Newer)
2nd Place: Earl Township Fire Company – Engine 19
1st Place: Kutztown Fire & Rescue – Engine 46
Best Appearing & Equipped Engine (2004 to 2014)
2nd Place: Good Will Hose #2 of Cressona – Engine 41-10
1st Place: Topton Fire Company – Rescue-Engine 21
Best Appearing & Equipped Engine (1993 to 2003)
2nd Place: Birdsboro-Union Fire Department – Engine 7-1
1st Place: Lyons Fire Company – Rescue-Engine 35
Best Appearing & Equipped Engine (1992 & Older)
1st Place: Union Fire Company #1 of Leesport – Engine 37
2nd Place: Exeter Township Fire Department – Tower 25
Best Appearing & Equipped Aerial
1st Place: Blandon Fire Company – Ladder 12
2nd Place: Kutztown Fire & Rescue – Rescue 46
Best Appearing & Equipped Rescue
1st Place: Oley Fire Company – Rescue 5
Best Appearing & Equipped Brush/Attack/Mini Pumper
2nd Place: Oley Fire Company – Brush 5
1st Place: Lynnport Community Fire Company – Brush 1461
Best Appearing & Equipped Special Service (Squad/Utility/Command)
2nd Place: Lyons Fire Company – Utility 35
1st Place: Lynnport Community Fire Company – Utility 1491
Best Appearing & Equipped Traffic Unit (Fire Police)
2nd Place: Virginville Fire Company – Traffic 33
1st Place: Greenfields Fire Company – Traffic 55
Best Appearing Antique Fire Department Owned
1st Place: No Entry (Awards became 3rd Special Judges Award)
Best Appearing Antique Privately Owned
1st Place: Kevin Geiger – 1986 Hahn Pumper
Longest Distance Award (Fire Company)
1st Place: Good Will Hose #2 of Cressona
Longest Distance Award (Privately Owned)
1st Place: Mike Reese
Special Judges Award
1: Shoemakersville Fire Company – ATV/UTV Trailer
2: Ruscombmanor Fire Company
3: Hamburg Forest Fire Crew – Brush 82-2
Best Appearing & Equipped E-one
1st Place: Kutztown Fire & Rescue – Engine 46
Best Appearing Zone 1 Company
1st Place: Blandon Fire Company – Station 12
Best Appearing Overall Company (3 or More Pieces)
1st Place: Oley Fire Company – Station 5
Source: Berkshire mont