After multiple setbacks — and just a little bit more than 150 years in the making — it brought Holly Homshek of the Avoca Community Committee cheer and relief to see Avoca’s sesquicentennial celebration finally happen.
“I was extremely relieved to finally have the event. It was a small group, but we got it done,” she said of her fellow volunteers who helped organized the celebration on Labor Day Weekend. Due to COVID, the anniversary celebration was pushed back from May, which was set to celebrate the incorporation of the borough on May 24, 1871. A ceremony was held to mark the May date and smaller fundraising events were held over the past several months, but the culmination of the sesquicentennial celebration during Labor Day Weekend will be a time to remember, with lots of food vendors, entertainment and hundreds of residents coming out to enjoy the events.
Starting on Friday, Sept. 3, Avoca duked it out against West Avoca in a kickball tournament to determine the better side of the tracks. Nearly 60 participants came out to be a part of the friendly competition. Avoca took the win after a tied game, and the celebration included a fireworks show after the tournament concluded.
Saturday was Avoca’s businesses turn to shine with the town’s Small Business Saturday.
After a bit of rain, the parade began Sunday afternoon from Kiesinger’s Funeral Home on McAlpine Street. Hundreds of residents lined the route as the parade made its way along McAlpine and Main streets to the municipal building before participants made their way back to the former St. Mary’s School at Queen of the Apostles Parish. Parade leaders were grand marshals Fire Chief Chris VanLuvender and Fire Chief Robert Matthews.
After the parade, the committee hosted a picnic at the church grounds with live entertainment, food trucks, raffle baskets, Susquehanna Brewing Company beer trailer, face painting, caricatures, and the “Bail Out Your Buddies” jail cell. The jail cell fundraiser was a throw back to the centennial celebration held in 1971.
“A lot of people brought up to us that there was this type of jail cell outside of certain bars in town (with people) locked up for a certain time,” explained Kelly O’Brien, borough secretary and community committee member. “I was thinking about how we could tie that in, and we thought of Bail Out Your Buddy.”
Raising $259.03 in just 20 minutes, Ryan Burns came in first place. Kaleena Berkosky came in second place, drawing in $170.55, and Red O’Brien and Jonathan Gedrich convinced the constable to split their jail time and combined brought in $131.84. By the time all the jailbirds were bailed out, the committee collected more than $1,000, according to the Avoca Sesquicentennial Celebration 150th Anniversary Facebook page. All proceeds will be donated back to local nonprofit organizations.
The Avoca Sesquicentennial ended with more than 75 theme baskets being raffled off, following musical performances throughout the day by Eddie Appnel and Friends and The Tom Petty Appreciation Band with Mark Kiesinger.