In parts one and two, the 1967 Sesquicentennial was introduced as the greatest celebration ever held in Milton’s history. After years of planning, Sesquicentennial Week arrived; Sunday, June 18, through Saturday, June 24.
Sunday was Religious Heritage Day. The day began with regular church services at all the local churches emphasizing “150 years of history and religious background.” Later that day, the “Faith of Our Fathers” service of worship, originally scheduled to take place at the Milton High School athletic field, was held in the high school gymnasium instead due to rain. The vesper service, chaired by Dr. Richard Klinetob, was a prelude to the official opening of the Sesquicentennial celebration the following day.
Sesquicentennial Week officially opened on Monday June 19, 1967. Following a day of antique displays and an afternoon flower show, the Milton High School gymnasium was once again jammed, this time for the 8 p.m. “Opening Convocation.” The event was moved indoors due to rain.
Chairman Samuel Ranck opened the event by welcoming the audience to the evening’s program, which included the introduction of the executive committee and dignitaries, a variety of entertainment and the coronation of the Sesquicentennial queen and court.
Mayor Evan C. Williams next read a letter of congratulations from President Lyndon B. Johnson.
As the Rev. Philip Jones, master of ceremonies, announced the names of the princesses and their prizes, the excitement mounted until finally only Miss Heddings and Miss Hartman remained. Finally the announcement came, Barbara Heddings was named queen.
Tuesday was “Sesqui Belles” Day. The day’s activities began with a baking contest in Lincoln Park. That afternoon, a fashion show was held at the Capitol Theatre with Hattie Lontz serving as commentator. The fashion show was free to the public and the 1,200-seat theater was filled to capacity.
Later that afternoon, a dinner was held at the Hotel Milton attended by very special guests — Miss Pennsylvania and Miss Eastern Pennsylvania, Milton’s very own Rebekah Ward, best known for outstanding singing talents. Following the dinner, a talent show was held at the Milton High School athletic field.
Wednesday was “Youth Activity Day.” Youth Chairman Ned Fairchild was in charge of all activities. A team of teenagers “took over” borough government for the action packed day. Among the activities was a morning kid’s parade, events downtown and at Brown Avenue Park, the dedication of the much-awaited community pool and dances in the evening for the teens.
Thursday was “Brothers of the Brush” Day with Robert Izer and Frank Hartzel chairing the events for the day. Once again the stadium at the high school athletic field was packed with locals, this time anxious to see the final Kangaroo Kourt and the judging of the beards. After months of growing and grooming the judges selected winners in 10 categories of beards.
Friday was “Sesquicentennial Ball” Day with Dr. and Mrs. Richard Kaar chairing celebrations for the day. There was so much interest in the event that the ball was actually held at three locations: the Milton Armory, Wynding Brook Country Club, and Stamm’s Dance Hall.
The final day of the historic Sesquicentennial Celebration, Saturday, June 24, 1967, was “Parade Day,” chaired by Lewis Kepler. His responsibility was huge considering the parade itself was to be “the biggest parade ever seen in this town.” It was said, “It will be so big that the borough might need 150 more years to get over it.” The planning strategy included promoting the day’s events to attract an estimated 45,000 people to Milton.
The 15-division parade began at 3 p.m. and lasted over 2 1/2 half hours. It was non-stop and there were no performances allowed at the judge’s stand in the interest of time. There were over 6,500 participants in the parade itself with 106 floats and 16 marching bands and a large variety of other forms of entertainment.
An editorial the following Monday in The Milton Standard read:
“Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful! The most extravagant superlatives couldn’t better describe Milton’s memorable Sesquicentennial Celebration. It was a grand party that every Miltonian participated in and thoroughly enjoyed.”
Milton native George S. Venios is author of “Chronicles and Legends of Milton”. He was born and raised in Milton and is currently project manager for The Improved Milton Experience (T.I.M.E.). The column will appear weekly in an effort to raise awareness of Milton’s rich history dating back to its founding. It will focus on interesting people, places and events featuring photographs taken from his book. The column is also crafted to promote Project 2017, TIME’s and Milton’s downtown streetscapes master plan.