Openings — official, archaeological and unofficial — were the order of the day on Saturday and Sunday as the 40th Triennial Old Home Week began.
The official opening took place late Saturday morning, the grand opening of Ebbert Spring Archaeological Preserve and Heritage Park was was held Saturday afternoon and at the stroke of midnight Sunday Vernon McCauley announced "Happy Old Home Week, everybody" at the unofficial opening.
"Let's hear it for Old Home Week," Julie Rohm, chair of the official opening ceremony for the 40th Triennial celebration, said late Saturday morning.
Rohm welcomed the people gathered on Center Square, many seeking shade in front of buildings, and dignitaries and Old Home Week representatives on the stage.
"We call this magic," said Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr., leading off the speakers. He was just the first to refer to the men and women who make it happen, including some 500 volunteers as well as the police, fire and public works departments.
State Rep. Paul Schemel, a Republican whose district includes part of Franklin, lives in Greencastle and said he is looking forward to seeking everyone during the week.
This is the first Old Home Week for state Sen. Judy Ward, also a Republican whose district includes part of Franklin County.
"I am so excited to be here. How fortunate you are to have such a week full of community involvement," Ward said.
Fred Young, chairman of the Antrim Township supervisors, referenced Thursday's visit to Manitowoc by Vice President Mike Pence.
"He reminded us we make America great," said Young. He continued, "This doesn't happen anywhere else in the United States.
"We are a faith-based community, we love God, we pray ... that's why this kind of stuff happens," Young said.
The speaker, Jim Houpt, left Greencastle in the 1950s, but always wanted the opportunity to come home and say thanks.
His family was poor, with his parents and 10 children living in a a bus at the bottom of Cemetery Hill.
"Greencastle always took care of me," said Houpt, explaining after school someone would always feed him. He talked about all the people who helped him, including those who gave him jobs or bought seeds or the Echo Pilot from him.
Houpt, a 1953 Greencastle High School graduate who traveled from Daytona Beach, Florida, said he became well-known in some places, founding a successful TV station and serving as a pastor in the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.
"It's my time and turn to say 'thank you' from the bottom of my heart," Houpt said. "You helped raise me to be the boy and man that I became."
Andy Everetts, president of the 40th Triennial Old Home Week, followed Houpt to the microphone. He talked about being introduced to Old Home Week by his grandfather, Tom Fox, who was president of the 25th Triennial, and working with both his grandfather and his father, Russ Everetts, on the Old Home Week car show.
"I began to understand the importance of Old Home Week to the community," Everetts said.
His theme for this Old Home Week is "honor the past, encourage the present and grow the future."
Representatives of the future joined him to help officially open Old Home Week. On stage Everetts, with his wife, Jenn, and children Quinn and Grant, cut the ribbon with a giant pair of scissors. On the square, youngsters lined up and helped tear the crepe paper ribbon to open the celebration.
Ebbert Spring Archaeological Preserve and Heritage Park was referred to as both a gem and a jewel by speakers at its Old Home Week grand opening Saturday afternoon.
The property off U.S. 11 south of Greencastle features walking trails through 10,000 years of history with interpretive kiosks and offers endless archaeological and research opportunities. In honor of the opening, the springhouse is featured on this year's Old Home Week badge.
"What a thrill it is to be here for all of this," said state Sen. Judy Ward, a Republican whose district includes Greencastle and Antrim Township. "You are so fortunate to have this crown jewel in the community."
The property is owned by The Archaeological Conservancy and Andy Stout, the conservancy's eastern regional director, has been working on its preservation for more than a decade. The conservancy has preserved about 500 archaeologically significant sites across the U.S.
Stout's territory runs from Maine to North Carolina, but Ebbert Spring hits home for the Greencastle native.
"Andy's worked really, really hard. This was not an easy project," said Fred Young, chairman of the Antrim Township supervisors, who called the park "hallowed ground."
"This is special as a native son of Greencastle," Stout said. "This is the only time I've been able to preserve a site of 'my people.'"
He explained one loop of the trail highlights the prehistoric period and one the historic period. He call the site a special place, with the spring attracting cultures throughout the ages and remaining a water source today for the Borough of Greencastle. The limestone house was built by William Allison Sr. and William Allison Jr., the father and brother of Greencastle founder John Allison.
Stout thanked a number of partners that helped in the $1.2 to $1.4 million conservation project, including Antrim Township for grant funding and mowing and Allison-Antrim Museum, which cares for the buildings on the property. He also acknowledged Kelley Berliner, eastern regional field representative for The Archaeological Conservancy. She's spent so much time helping to develop the site she is practically an honorary resident of Greencastle, Stout said.
"This place is incredible, a gem like this in the middle of development," said Thomas Ford, director, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, which also provided grant funding. "Wow, what a historical site. This also helps us protect cold water resources, this is one of the bigger springs in the Cumberland Valley."
Ebbert Spring Archaeological Preserve and Heritage Park "really captures the different levels of values you find on the land here ... history, the environment and recreation," said Katie Hess, director of the South Mountain Partnership, which gave a grant to assist with the kiosks and plaques.
"Please come in, use the trails and enjoy the beautiful scenery," said Bonnie Shockey, president and CEO of Allison-Antrim Museum, calling it an oasis in the middle of an industrial park.
Terry Bonnell help cut the ribbon to open the park. He traveled from Valencia, California, to see a dream come true for his late father Al Bonnell, the last owner of the property. Al Bonnell, who had an interest in history and conducted archaeological digs there, made it clear he wanted it preserved and the family gave the conservancy a good price.
"He would be beyond excited," Terry Bonnell said.
Ebbert Spring Archaeological Preserve and Heritage Park is a passive use park for low-impact activities, like hiking and nature observation. Pets are permitted, but owners must pick up after them. The park is open from dawn to dusk at 12633 Molly Pitcher Highway.
The streets of Greencastle were eerily empty and quiet early Sunday evening after the car show ended, but it wasn't long before people started converging on Center Square.
They looked at the window displays, stopped in at headquarters, grabbed a bite to eat at the Boy Scout stand, enjoyed music by the Florida Keys or just caught up with friends.
As darkness fell, the crowd on the Square just kept getting bigger and bigger. In addition to the sound coming from speakers on the stage, myriad conversations created a buzz of excitement as the unofficial opening crept closer.
At 11, Vernon McCauley took over the microphone, pumping up people with chants of "We are G-A"; sharing nuggets like the first baseball game was played in Greencastle in 1867; promoting the Greencastle-Antrim Alumni Association trophy, which will go to the class with the most members in the association by the end of the week; and introducing favorite songs, from "She'll be Coming 'Round the Mountain" to "She's a Grand Old Flag."
McCauley called Old Home Week President Andy Everetts up on stage and then led the countdown to midnight, when he said, "Happy Old Home Week, everybody" and the traditional singing of "The Old Grey Mare" marked the unofficial start of the weeklong celebration.