Fort recognizes 1758 battle of Ligonier
When members of the Ligonier Valley Veterans Honor Guard take that first step on to East Main Street next Saturday morning, Peggy Shelper, a Fort Ligonier Days parade co-chairman, will be standing on the corner of Bell Street watching with pride. Shepler has been coordinating the annual parade in Ligonier for the past 10 years and says she would not have it any other way.
“When I see that first unit come down off of Bell Street, the tears start to flow,” said Shepler. “It's absolutely awesome. It's saying, ‘Yes, we're here.'”
Shepler said she is the type of person who likes to start at the bottom of a project and work her way up to the top and put it all together. The parade gives her every opportunity to do just that.
On the day of the parade, Shepler travels up and down the back streets of Ligonier transporting people via a golf cart to where they need to be on the parade route.
“I am excited for each participant we have in the parade,” said Shepler, shying away from choosing a favorite group because she loves them all.
This year's parade features 17 marching bands, several military units, Shriners, antique cars, historic organization marching units, re-enactor units, horses and riders, TV personalities, beauty queens and a member of the 2012 USA Olympic Diving team.
The United States Marine Corps Band of Quantico, Va. will follow the local honor guard to kick off the parade. The Penn State Marching Blues Band will make its third appearance in the annual parade.
Also returning are the Morgantown High School Red & White Band from West Virginia and the Butler Golden Tornado Band. both have performed throughout the United States.
“The Morgantown director told me they love to come to Ligonier to perform,” said Shepler. “These bands bring lots of visitors who come for the day and even the weekend to watch family members who are marching in the parade.”
Charlie Stahl of Ligonier will serve as parade marshal this year. Stahl recently retired from his job as head of the maintenance department at Fort Ligonier, a position he held for 53 years.
“Chuck has contributed so much to the fort and the community during more than 50 years at the fort,” said Shelper. “He is an inspiration. He truly represents this year's theme ‘Inspiring Historic Preservation.'”
Two historical performers will participate in the parade this year. Dean Malissa will portray George Washington and Ralph Lincoln, a fifth-generation descendant, will portray Abraham Lincoln.
“Dean Malissa portrays the president at Mt. Vernon. He is such a man of stature and so well-received,” she said. “He is always a big draw for the parade.”
Shepler said two of the Miracle Miners from Quecreek, John Unger and Tom Foy, will be riding in the parade along with Bill and Lorie Arnold, owners of the farm property where the miners were rescued.
Because it is an Olympics year, Shelper said she wanted to ask an Olympian from the region to be a part of the parade this year. Cassidy Krug, formerly of the Pittsburgh area and a member of the Olympic Diving team, will be a special guest in the parade. Following the parade, she will be signing photographs at the Kids Korner at the Ligonier Valley YMCA.
There are seven floats participating in the parade, including the Valley School of Ligonier. The Ligonier Girl Scouts' float will celebrate 100 years of Scouting.
“The float participants will be submitting drawings for their floats later this week,” said Shepler. “I am looking forward to see how they incorporate this year's theme.”
Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.