By Kaylee Lindenmuth | email@example.com
SHENANDOAH - Until 4:00pm today, the first two blocks of North Main Street in Shenandoah is packed with people and vendors, serving ethnic foods, crafts, t-shirts, and much more for the 21st annual Heritage Day festival.
Following the Parade of Nations at 10:00am, a short ceremony was held to open the festival and to recognize the grand marshal. A prayer was provided by Pastor Mindy Heppe, St. John's Lutheran Church, and the national anthem was performed by Shaina Graff.
"Welcome to Shenandoah, a very diverse little borough," said Anne Taylor, DSI promotions chair, in her welcome.
"What a beautiful day for a party, don't you think?" said Mayor Andrew J. Szczyglak in his welcome, as temperatures were in the upper 60s with clear skies.
The ceremony also recognized volunteer Tom Ulicny, who maintains the Pennsylvania Anthracite Miner's Memorial. Szczyglak provided a proclamation recognizing Ulicny.
"Mary [Luscavage, DSI executive manager] called me a couple weeks ago, and she said 'Andrew, I need you to do a proclamation for Heritage Day.' I said 'Sure, no problem, who is our honored guest?," said Szczyglak. "She said Tom Ulicny, and you know what, what a great choice. This man spends hours upon hours upon hours upon hours taking care of our miners memorial here in Shenandoah."
"I could drive by at seven in the morning, and I could drive by at seven at night, and I'll see Tom sitting on his bucket pulling weeds," Szczyglak added.
Szczyglak said Ulicny "comes from a great family," and spoke about the history between their families.
"My grandmother is in the process of moving so we're going through some old photo albums, and I came across a picture of Tom when he took my aunt to the prom many years ago," said Szczyglak. "Mary, your committee made a great choice."
The mayor then presented a proclamation recognizing August 24, 2019, as Thomas "Slick" Ulicny day in Shenandoah.
To all of you, especially to Tom, keep up the good work. This town needs you.
Following Szczyglak was Senator David G. Argall, who had remarks about the festival and the town.
"Mary, you and Anne, all your volunteers, for what you're doing here in this community, breathing new life into an old town, thank you, thank you," said Argall. "I wish my grandma was still alive, from up in the Heights, she would've been amazed at what you all are doing every day."
Argall then had remarks about Ulicny.
"I've presented awards to Ulicnys out in the Hegins Valley, and I have presented awards to the Ulicnys in Tamaqua, and here we are back in the hometown, to Tom, for all of his work and being honored today as Grand Marshal, all I can say is please, to all of you, especially to Tom, keep up the good work," said Argall. "This town needs you."
County Commissioners Chair George Halcovage then spoke.
"The Ulicny family are some of the greatest people. We are blessed with great people here in this county and in Shenandoah," said Halcovage. "It comes back to Mr. and Mrs. Ulicny who instilled those values in their family."
"Tom is like a magician who appears out of nowhere to get the work done," said Halcovage, reading from a prepared statement. "No one even realizes that work has been done or that Tom has been the one to do it, and then you also do work in all seasons. He doesn't even ask for help, he doesn't even ask for a garbage bag. He's truly an unsung hero. On behalf of all the citizens of Schuylkill County, congratulations."
The festival itself continues until 4:00pm today, featuring a wide variety of vendors, including Kowalonek's Kielbasy Shop, Chill Out, Vernalis's, La Casita, and other ethnic vendors. The Shenandoah Valley Class of 2023 also has a stand, among others.
At the gazebo, until 1:30pm, the Shenandoah All-Star Polka Band will perform, followed by the Mariachi Rey Azteca Band from 1:30pm to 3pm, and Shaina Graff and JT Thomas from 3pm until 4pm.
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