‘Unofficial opening’ works its magic again

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
The biggest sing-a-long and party in town happened in the square Sunday evening at the “unofficial” opening of Old Home Week. When the clock struck midnight Russ Clever led the crowd in the singing of “The Old Gray Mare”. Music and fun led up to the striking of the Town Clock and Clever led a sing-a-long through the early morning hour of Monday.

While some of Greencastle slumbered, many people chose to push bedtime back several hours on Sunday night. A crowd filled Center Square during the unofficial opening of Old Home Week. With pleasant temperatures closing the day, young and old alike spent the time greeting friends from near and far, once again solidifying the purpose of the triennial celebration, to be a grand reunion.

"I'm here to pass the time and see old friends," said JoAnne Everetts. She found a bench next to the OHW headquarters, and had purchased nachos and cheese from Boy Scout Troop 99, with its foodstand sanctioned for the week of activities.

Kenny Garling was ready for the possibilities of the cheery event. "I took a nap to get caught up for this."

Carol Keener verbalized what many may not have, but were certainly thinking. "I want to see the streaker."

In 2010, a man in the buff did not get as far as he would have liked. And in the 1970s another man tried the stunt.

A group of girls circled the square. Ellie Murr, 15, said she was downtown because her mother made her come. Pals Kylie Carbaugh, 15, Madison Miller, 16, and Jordan Tosten, 14, confessed how they were taking advantage of the setting. "We're checking out the boys."

Brian Fickes continued the tradition started by his great-great-grandparents, "I come here every three years." He was accompanied by the next generation, daughter Brooke, 17.

A certain number of partiers carried Red Solo cups (or blue or yellow), with a distinct odor of grain alcohol, as they walked the public street. Greencastle police chief John Phillippy gave an official statement on the misdeed.

"Alcohol is illegal. We will arrest people if they get stupid."

Officers patrolled the square, and no one got into trouble with their beverages, as they tended to behave responsibly. Some stated they walked to the opening ceremony, and others were being transported by designated drivers. Phillippy said drinking at the event had not been a problem for many years.

Emcees Russ Clever and Vern McCauley worked the crowd from the stage in the northeast corner, amidst rousing music from the Greencastle-Antrim High School Alumni Band. The two promoted the sing-a-long which would round out the unofficial opening.

"We have to sing happy enough and loud enough for those people who can't be here," said Clever. "Everyone has to sing."

Agreed McCauley, "You do not want to sit there and listen to me and Russ sing. Trust me, you don't."

The audience, some in lawn chairs, and most standing, jumped in after the midnight dongs from the Town Clock. "The Old Grey Mare" and "Just a Little Street" filled the summer air. The crowd sang several old favorites before calling it quits, agreeing that the opening was a good time in the old town tonight.