Wyoming County Commissioner Tom Henry (top, at podium) gets a laugh from other dignitaries celebrating Eaton Township’s Bicentennial on July 15, including (from left) Township Supervisors Paul Rowker, Randy Ehrenzeller, and Kenny White, Commissioner Judy Mead, Rep. Karen Boback, Sen. Lisa Baker, and township resident Janet Kristunas. Part of the ceremony held at Eatonville United Methodist Church included the honoring of lifetime residents including (seated, above from left) John Greenley, Charlotte Hadsall, and Mary Kukuchka.
Photos and Story by Rick Hiduk
A year in the making, Eaton Township’s 200th birthday was celebrated in grand style, with exhibits, performances, and activities for residents and visitors of all ages to enjoy spread throughout its 37 square miles. The celebration got its official start, however, in what might arguably be called its “capital” or, at least, its historic commercial hub. In fitting tribute to the municipality’s strong history of rural religion, the sanctuary of Eatonville United Methodist Church was filled to capacity Saturday morning.
UMC Pastor Robin Fillmore (above) had the honor of welcoming guests and providing opening remarks for the day-long celebration. She shared the pulpit with Eaton Baptist Church Pastor Kurt Bricker and, later, elected officials from the township, county, and state. Fillmore only recently began leading services at the 126-year-old church, following the 2011-17 tenure of Pastor Betty Reilly, who returned to play piano for the event and sing with a choir consisting of members from both churches.
After the service concluded with a rousing rendition of “God Bless America,” the township supervisors, with help from former tax collector Janet Kristunas, honored Eaton Township’s “pioneers,” those residents over the age of 90. Of the 18 eligible citizens that committee members were able to identify, three were in attendance: John Greenley, Charlotte Hadsall, and Mary Kukuchka, who lives just across Bowmans Creek from the church.
Pioneers who were unable to attend include (alphabetically) Doris Colbenson, Joseph Drost, Sr., Barbara Ellsworth, Kenneth Evans, Sr., Leona Evans, Roy Grenley, Thomas Harding, Gerald Irwin, George Jurista, Julia Landon, Lillian Lauck, Betty Skovronsky, and Alice Steiner.
Though Supervisor Randy Ehrenzeller dismissed the audience, Sen. Lisa Baker (above, left) and Rep. Karen Boback were quick to rise from their pews and run to the podium for their own official acknowledgements of Eaton Township’s anniversary and to read proclamations that were then given to the supervisors. Commissioners Tom Henry and Judy Mead joined the dignitaries gathered around the pulpit and and bestowed similar accolades from Wyoming County.
Before and after the ceremony, guests at the church perused displays in the vestibule remembering Eatonville with various photos and artifacts. Attendees and participants in the opening ceremonies then moved from the house of worship across the pedestrian bridge that reconnected Eatonville in 2015 to Creekside Gardens (above), where they were treated to coffee and donuts (below) and live music.
Vendors lined Church Road between Rt. 29 and the bridge, invoking a sense of the commercial vibe that was part of daily life in Eatonville during its heyday. Though likely still more serene than it was a century ago, Eatonville has undergone changes over the past five years that have made it once again a destination for local residents and visitors to Wyoming County.
Additional scenes from Eaton Township’s Bicentennial:
Participants in the opening ceremonies of the Eaton Township Bicentennial gather in the vestibule of Eatonville United Methodist Church prior to the start of the event.
A choir consisting of members of Eatonville United Methodist and Eaton Baptist churches also featured three pastors, including (along the right, from front) Rev. Betty Reilly, Rev. Robin Fillmore, and Rev. Kurt Bricker.
Receiving her “Pioneer” citation from Eaton Township Supervisor Paul Rowker is Charlotte Hadsall, seated (above) with granddaughter Lori Bennett and grandson Shane Montross.
State Rep. Karen Boback (left) and Sen. Lisa Baker (right) presented plaques to the Eaton Township supervisors.
A collection of toys curated by Patrick Robinson was on display in the vestibule of Eatonville United Methodist Church.
Local Boy Scouts and leaders selling homemade lollipops on Church Street included (front, from left) Lucas Ciufo, John Scholz, Owen Leidy and Patti Wiscavage, (back) John Scholz, Josiah Geritz and Linda Ciufo.
Enjoying the beautiful weather in Eatonville on Saturday morning were local Girl Scouts (from left) Mya Warman, Pandora Owens, and Emily Wojnarski of Harding, Falls, and Mehoopany, respectively.
The Ries Art Glass Studio in Keelersburg (above) was open to the public in conjunction with the Eaton Township celebration. Artist Chris Ries speaks with Anne Lennie of Lake Carey (below).
Guests at Ries Art Glass Studio marvel at a piece that gathered reflections in a particularly interesting manner.
Cheryl Traver (left) and Vicki Ide of the PS Bank Eaton Township branch were among employees giving away balloons on Saturday.
Congregants of Eaton Baptist prepared children’s activities and hot dogs for Bicentennial guests along Rt. 29.
Free hot dogs were available at numerous locations, including the Walmart parking lot, where they were prepared Saturday morning by Eaton Township Supervisor (left) and Ryan Whitney.
Photographic displays abounded, including this one detailing the history of the MoneyPenny Inn in Keelersburg.
The number of classic cars was growing steadily just before noon in the area of Anytime Fitness.
GEM 104 staff members (from left) Carly Okoth, Dora Bennett, and Kellie Faigle played oldies in front of Walmart.
Bounce houses abounded on Saturday, many of them supplied by Bounce Party Rentals of Eaton Township.
Tractors and township vehicles and machinery were on display in the Walmart parking lot.