May Day tradition lives on in Springdale
The Springdale community came together Saturday to celebrate a tradition so old many can only guess at its longevity.
May Day, held in the auditorium in Springdale Junior-Senior High School, stands as unique in the Allegheny-Kiski Valley. In the mid-1900s, virtually every school and town had a May Day event.
Now, they're virtually unheard of in southwestern Pennsylvania. Organizers say they are aware of only one other regional school district, Mars Area in Butler County, that has such an event.
“Everyone comes. It's known all over town,” said 2012 graduate Corey Strawoet. “It's one of the biggest events in Springdale.”
The earliest written record of Springdale's May Day, found in a borough history book, puts 2013 as the 80th celebration. But some people believe it's older than that, district spokeswoman Jan Zastawniak said.
“It is a celebration of spring,” said Karen Furyk, a family and consumer science teacher who has been the May Day sponsor for more than 20 years. She said the event dates to the 1920s.
“My mother graduated from here in 1938. There was a May Day then,” she said.
Members of the May Day Court are chosen by a vote of the junior class. The king and queen of last year's court, today's seniors, pass their crowns to their successors.
Being chosen for the court is a big deal among the students, said Ryan Matisko, another 2012 graduate. A freshman at Slippery Rock University, he was on the court last year; his brother, Matthew, was on this year's junior court.
“It's quite an honor to be on the court,” Ryan Matisko said, then recalled the work that came with it. “During the week leading up to it, it was pretty stressful. Now to look back on it, it was pretty cool to be a part of.”
The tradition runs through families.
“There are people on the court whose grandmothers and grandfathers, great-uncles and great-aunts, were on the court years ago,” Furyk said.
Ryan Matisko's grandmother, Marcella Matisko, was a May Queen. She said her mother had wanted her to be a queen.
“To me it's just an honor to be elected,” she said. “It's something no other place has. I'm proud and happy my own family has been on it.”
The program includes music and dance performances, including the traditional “May Pole Dance,” performed by Acmetonia first-grade students. Seniors dance with their parents, and the senior boys perform a skit, the content of which is a closely guarded secret.
“Even I don't know what it is,” said Nancy Metkler, whose son, Zachary Metkler, was on the senior court. “Every year they try to outdo the year before.”
This year's May Day celebration carried the theme of “Cityscape in May.” The stage was decorated as a park, and the sounds of birds were in the air.
“The whole school gets involved in this. From a very early time, these kids want to be in May Day,” Allegheny Valley school board member Glenna Renaldi said. “It's almost a rite of passing now.”
Jeannine McCutcheon, a 1984 graduate, was a May Queen. She said the event goes back to the community's immigrant roots.
“It was a day to be fancy — put on your best dresses, the boys wore tuxes,” she said.”It was a day to dress up. You don't get to do that in high school.”
When she brought up May Day at work, Nancy Metkler said no one knew what she was talking about.
“It's just tradition. Our school is big on tradition,” she said. “We have a lot of traditions in the school district and they carry on through the years.
“It brings everybody together. It keeps everybody together.”
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Alle-Kiski Valley municipalities to re-evaluate how to pay for police protection
- Butler organization seeks answers for unexplained phenomena
- Grandview Upper Elementary in Tarentum marks 100th anniversary with open house
- ATI picketer injured at Harrison mill
- Arnold bakery reopens at is new ‘old’ location
- Engineer advises Springdale Borough that other water plant options cost ‘significantly’ less
- Apollo fountain to return
- ‘Banshee’ props, inventory up for sale
- Saxonburg to hold 3rd annual electronics recycling event
- New Kensington Better Block organizers hope to spark revitalization efforts
- New Kensington-Arnold School District officials to discuss anti-bullying proposals