Thousands turn out for huge parade, battle reenactment at Fort Ligonier Days |

Thousands turn out for huge parade, battle reenactment at Fort Ligonier Days

Joe Napsha
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Mariah Fisher, of Ligonier, watches bands pass by with her son, Noah Fisher, 6, background, and fellow reenactor and friend Madigan Smith, 6, on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019 during the 60th Fort Ligonier Days in Ligonier.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Color guard members with Elizabeth Forward High School marching band perform as they make their way down Main Street.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
The Greensburg-Salem High School marching band performs on Main Street in the annual parade on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019 during the 60th Fort Ligonier Days in Ligonier.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Matthew Boice, of Washington, Pa., a member of the Syria Temple of Pittsburgh, warms up on the keyboard for the float carrying the Syria chanters on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019 during the beginning of the parade for the 60th Fort Ligonier Days in Ligonier.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Blea Blastos, of Pittsburgh, watches the parade floats pass by with her son, Xavi, 2, and husband, Mike Blastos, right, during the parade on Main Street on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019 during the 60th Fort Ligonier Days in Ligonier.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Ryan Murphy with the Southwestern Pennsylvania Firefighters Drum and Pipe band walks by a line of antique trucks before the start of the parade.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Theresa Gay Rohall, executive director of Ligonier Valley Historical Society, waves to crowds while making her way with the group’s parade float on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019 during the 60th Fort Ligonier Days in Ligonier.

The light rain that came down during Fort Ligonier Days’ annual parade Saturday morning did not prevent thousands of people from crowding both sides of Main Street to watch a procession of bands, fire trucks, bagpipers and French and Indian War reenactors march through town.

The 60th anniversary of Fort Ligonier Days featured a 100-minute parade that featured something for every musical taste from several high school bands to a wall of sound from the University of Pittsburgh marching band.

Countless craft booths were crammed into parks and parking lots in downtown Ligonier, and food booths — some from as far away as Havre de Grace, Md. — were squeezed into the perimeter of Ligonier’s refurbished Diamond, offering delicacies of all kinds.

The sound of the artillery demonstration at Ft. Ligonier — particularly the firing of the 12-pound gun — once again reverberated around the area.

The event continues Sunday.

The anniversary sparked memories for some longtime Ligonier residents.

Mary Lou Martin Fleming, who operates Martin’s Specialty Shop that her grandfather founded in 1900, recalled that the parade was always part of Fort Ligonier Days, but the overall event was smaller.

“All the food booths were local organizations,” Fleming said. “The activities were not quite as intense, but everyone had fun. The craft were minimal.”

As a sign of the change in time, “there was not anything going on on Sunday,” Fleming said. “That was church day.”

Ligonier is marking the 261st anniversary of the French and Indian War battle of Oct. 12, 1758. British and colonial troops under Gen. John booths Forbes prevented French soldiers and their Indian allies, who traveled from Fort Duquesne, from capturing the new fort that overlooked Loyalhanna Creek.

When the British learned of the diminished French forces at Fort Duquesne at the fork of the Ohio River, the troops, along with Col. George Washington of Virginia, marched on Fort Duquesne, which was abandoned and blown apart by the French when the British approached the area.

Among the reenactors at Fort Ligonier Days for the annual event was 2-year-old Deklynn Gunter of Green Tree, enjoying her first Fort Ligonier Days with her parents, Angela and Will.

Will Gunter, who portrays a member of the Virginia regiment under Capt. William Trent, said his grandfather, R.C. Nolte, started him on his reenactment career some 40 years ago.

“I’ve been coming here forever,” said Gunter, who is starting his daughter along a similar path.

Another youngster who is taking baby steps in her life as a colonial reenactor was Leo Kinley, who will celebrate his 1st birthday Sunday.

His father, Ryan Washlaski of New Alexandria, portraying a French grenadier, said his son was wearing the same coat he wore as a little boy when he was taken to reenactments.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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