By Rebecca Price Janney, Jul 12 2017 08:10PM
Easton's Heritage Day weekend is always special for me, but this last one will linger in my memory for a very long time. I'll give you reasons for both.
Back in 1976 to celebrate the Bicentennial, Easton put on quite a celebration. After all, this town was one of the first three in the new nation to have a public reading of the Declaration of Independence--along with Trenton and Philadelphia. The bands played, flags waved, and fireworks soared into the nighttime sky. The following year was much quieter, which prompted my mom to write a letter to the editor of the then-Easton Express to suggest we should have a similar festival every year. While I don’t know for sure her letter is the actual reason we have a Heritage Day, I believe her ardor contributed to the present commemoration. Thanks Mom! You were a true Patriot in so many ways.
Easton has observed an annual Heritage Day since the late 1970s on the Sunday closest to July 8th, the date Robert Levers read the Declaration of Independence to the villagers on the Courthouse steps. My beloved ancestor, Colonel Peter Kichline (one of two main characters in my Easton Series), led his regiment to the Great Square in a display of patriotism amidst shouts of “Hip hip huzzah!”
For the past few years, my husband has portrayed the Colonel, and myself and our son as his wife and son, in a parade from the Bachmann Publick House on Second Street to the “Circle” where our good friend, Christopher Black, skillfully plays Levers before enthusiastic crowds. Needless to say, my heart swells as I stand there hearing those words read, and I often feel tears coming on at the end when we all pledge “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
This past weekend was even more amazing for me than usual. On Saturday morning I participated in the 265th birthday of the Easton Farmers’ Market at the invitation of another dear friend, Paul Strikwerda. There I spoke about, and signed, copies of my brand new book, Easton in the Valley. The weather was gorgeous, and I so enjoyed meeting many people who came by to see me.
In the evening I had the honor of participating in a book launch sponsored by the Sigal Museum/Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society at the 1753 Bachmann Public House. Fellow authors Jeff Finegan and Richard Hope joined me there as we spoke about our books and welcomed a sell-out crowd of well-wishers and book lovers. What fun I had greeting friends from nearly every part of my life in that historic place! I even ran into my former German professor and his wife from Lafayette College! Thank you, Carey Birgel, for making the evening such a success.
Sunday morning dawned much more comfortably than any Heritage Day I’ve ever known, and I scurried with a friend and my family to the interfaith service at Riverside Park. The town criers called us into the outdoor amphitheater, and the Rev. Michael Dowd of the First U.C.C. gave a stirring sermon. From there, I mingled with Heritage Day festival-goers, then marched in the noontime parade. At the end I ran into several of my DAR friends, including Carrie Ballek and Tracy Dejonge. Having lunch at the Sigal Museum with many new and old friends was a special treat, followed by some time in the historic First U.C.C., which served as a hospital during the Revolution. Although I was too tired to stay for the parade which include the famous Clydesdale horses, I came home with a truckload of happy thoughts and touching memories. I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling since!