Heritage Days sponsor 2017, Gerdau Huntington Facility

03 Mar Heritage Days sponsor 2017, Gerdau Huntington Facility

Heritage Days 2017 will be celebrated in Huntington Wednesday, June 14 through Sunday, June 18. The theme is The 40s: Liberty, Democracy, Dignity. Gerdau Huntington Facility, 25 Commercial Road, is the official sponsor as named by the Heritage Days Steering Committee.

Gerdau is one of the largest suppliers of special steel in the world and the leading producer of long steel in the Americas. Gerdau’s special steel North American division specializes in producing special bar quality (SBQ) steel for the automotive, commercial vehicle, agricultural and energy markets. The business offers its customers a wide array of heat treated and value-added processed products. Mike Cash is the plant general manager of Gerdau’s Huntington Facility and Kendall Mickley is division controller.

This year’s Heritage Days theme will allow participants in the annual Heritage Days Parade and other activities to depict the history of the 1940s, an era when a time of war was beginning with the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, and a time of celebration when World War II ended August 14, 1945. The attack on Pearl Harbor led to the enlistment of millions of U.S. servicemen and women. This would mark the first time men and women served in the U.S. military side by side. The entire country came together and the war changed everything including the way Americans worked, dressed and fell in love. At the end of the war, victory was felt in every corner of the globe as our country shifted from booming bombs to the baby boom.

Through perseverance and the heart and the pride of our citizens, Americans survived the war and returned home to rebuild the country. Rationing ended and the demand for goods led manufacturing to resume. Heritage Days 2017 celebrates the indomitable spirit of the citizens of Huntington and the rebuilding of our county. The theme comes from a speech given by Mrs. Mark W. Clark, wife of the Fifth Army General in command of all operations in the Italian sector, to the members of the Talk of the Hour Club in the Huntington High School auditorium in 1945. She said, “Liberty, democracy, human dignity and plain ordinary decency are the things we are fighting for in this war.”

The Heritage Days 2017 button depicts a United States Air Force plane like the one on display at Memorial Park. The Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star is a jet trainer aircraft which was used by the United States military mainly from the late 1940s to early 1950s. The military personnel trained in the usage of this aircraft followed in military combat flight. The plane at the park is part of the Veterans Memorial and is one of 5,600 T-33As made by Lockheed. The official colors for Heritage Days 2017 will be red, white and blue.

This part of Huntington’s history will give Heritage Days participants the opportunity to get to know a little more about what businesses and activities were a part of the community. The theme is part of an ongoing effort to “explore” Huntington’s heritage. During this time, downtown Huntington had three theaters, The Huntington, The Jefferson and The Tivoli. Milk was still delivered in Huntington by the Blackburn Dairy, and other businesses included Bazley’s Meat Market, the Collins Music Co. (opening February 24, 1946), Caswell Runyan cedar chests and cabinet radios and W.H. Gossard Co. sewing. Fur coats were all the rage, Pete Scher & Sons owned the Haymarket Restaurant, Shideler’s operated the Coffee Ranch (today’s Party Shop) and Neterer Bros. were the bakers.

Songs that were a part of the 40s include Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, I’ll Be Seeing You, The White Cliffs of Dover, Goodnight Sweetheart, Don’t Fence Me In and many more. The dance style was “the Jitterbug” and ballroom dancing. Popular movies included Bambi, Pinocchio and Dumbo, all in black and white. Radio was the lifeline for most Americans, and few people had television sets. Frisbees, Silly Putty and Slinky’s were invented in the 1940s. Sports of all kinds were played on a daily basis and women mostly sewed their family’s clothing.

The Heritage Days Parade will be held Saturday, June 17 beginning at 10 a.m. The theme can be carried through on parade entries in the form of military uniforms, airplanes and anything that pertains to the war, reconstruction or life in the 1940s. Participants in this year’s parade will be asked for a $25 fee per entry. Groups are considered as one entry. This fee along with a certificate of liability insurance must be submitted along with the parade registration form.

Activities that will be a part of this year’s Heritage Days festivities include the traditional Chief of the Flint Springs Tribe breakfast Thursday morning at the Historic Forks of the Wabash, and the annual Rotary Strawberry Feed on Thursday evening at Heritage Hall. A car, truck and motorcycle show will take place on Friday evening in downtown Huntington along with a USO, including music and dancing, at the LaFontaine Center. Saturday afternoon following the parade will bring the Fun Zone children’s activities also downtown. The Fun Zone will include free camel and pony rides, a petting zoo, games and free refreshments for children.

A hot air balloon festival will continue through the weekend with a car show, bed races and balloon glow all on Saturday at Huntington North High School. A bike race will be held Saturday afternoon in a location to be determined in Roanoke.

Vaudeville will take place on Saturday evening at the Historic Forks of the Wabash, and tours/exhibits at the Huntington Historical Museum will also be a part of Saturday’s festivities. JeFFFest will take place on Sunday evening, June 18, in the center block of downtown completing the Heritage Days festivities.

Poor Jack’s Amusements will once again be the carnival of choice for 2017. Rides and activities will be located in the Cherry Street area from Wednesday, June 14 through Sunday, June 18. Streets involved with the carnival will close on Monday, June 12 at 3 p.m. to allow for set-up.

Heritage Days are coordinated by a Steering Committee of the Huntington County Chamber of Commerce. For more information contact the Chamber at 356-5300 or visit the website at www.huntingtoncountychamber.com.