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