Forest City celebrates 150th year
BY BRENDAN GIBBONS
Borough residents gathered Saturday to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the small Forest City community where, as they put it, everybody knows everybody.
Officials blocked off most of Main Street to make room for carnival games, a car and motorcycle show, live music and food and crafts vendors.
“One hundred fifty years we’ve survived and we haven’t blown up yet,” resident, repairman and inventor Larry Twardy said, as he watched the Upvalley band Kids In A Sandbox crank out alternative rock covers. “We’re doing better than Centralia.”
In Studio 511, a Main Street salon, Mayor Pauline Wilcox sat in a chair as a stylist sculpted her hair into an up-do. The hair would go with a Civil War period dress, complete with hoop skirt, that she planned on wearing at a 9 p.m. anniversary parade. The plan was to stand atop a float shaped like a birthday cake, sing “Happy Birthday” to the borough and watch a fireworks show.
She complimented the residents and borough officials who organized the celebration.
“They’ve put forth a lot of energy and a lot of work to put it all together,” she said. “It’s all to keep the pride in Forest City.”
Like many local municipalities, Forest City boomed in the early 20th century, thanks to the lumber, coal and silk industries, according to a program from the 1964 Forest City Centennial celebration published on Ancestry.com. The population reached 6,000-some by the late 1920s. As of 2010, the population was 1,911, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Borough council member Bill Orasin, whose family has lived here since the 1800s, pulled up a picture on his phone of his grandmother at the 1964 centennial, dressed with a large group of women in handmade dresses that looked vintage even back then.
Orasin, part of the committee who organized the festival, said they wanted to reflect the community spirit and effort their ancestors have put into that week-long festival 50 years ago. Forest City has held an annual festival called Old Home Week since the early 1980s, he said, but they did a few things differently this year.
They attracted more events and vendors, put up American flags on poles lining the street and commissioned a sesquicentennial mural on the side of a Main Street business. On Friday, the local Rotary Club held a wine festival that drew about 200 people to taste from six local wineries, Rotary President David Daugherty said.
“If they believe we care, they’ll care, too,” Orasin said.
Even before the parade, the festival was turning out to be the best in recent memory, Wilcox said.
“It’s definitely going to stay in my mind forever,” she said. “It just reflects the town’s face.”