Hometown Hero banners go up in Chambersburg

John Irwin
Waynesboro Record Herald

Downtown Chambersburg welcomed its first set of Hometown Hero banners on Tuesday as the signs were mounted to poles throughout the area.

Organizer Tracy Ebersole Hershey was on site Tuesday at the Trinity Lutheran Church parking lot at 431 Philadelphia Ave. to see the first sign take its place.

"The first banner we put up was for Charles Nitterhouse who the (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Post 1599 In Chambersburg was named after," Hershey said. "We thought that was very fitting."

A Hometown Hero banner honoring Charles Nitterhouse is pictured here after being installed in downtown Chambersburg.

The road to getting the signs approved was a long one, but worth the effort for Hershey. 

"We started this process right before the pandemic hit, and it grew from there," she said, "I went on a few motorcycle trips with my husband, Donald Hershey who is the manager of the Chambersburg VFW, and saw these banners hanging in all these towns we rode through and thought, 'What a great idea.'

"We started doing research, and at first we were going to do a couple just in the square," she said, "but we decided that wasn't going to work because there was a lot of interest and found it's a lot of red tape, but once we got in front of the borough council, they were completely for it and ready to get it done."

According to Hershey, the borough allowed the use of 175 poles along U.S. 11 and U.S. 30 for the banners to be displayed. U.S. 11 is also known as Philadelphia Avenue and Main Street; U.S. 30 is also known as Lincoln Way.

Read more:Old Home Week planning starts in Greencastle

"We sold 135 banners this year, at $175 apiece; we didn't want to oversell and not have enough," Hershey said. "They are going to hang for two years and then they will be returned to the family."

According to Hershey, the installation should take a few days, but the goal was to have them all up before Memorial Day. Rileighs Outdoor Decor of Allentown, Pa., was hired to install the banners. 

To avoid passing installation costs on to the families purchasing banners, the organizers applied for and received a $2,000 grant from the VFW national office, plus donations from other veterans clubs in the area.

"We didn't make anything on this project, it's never been about us; it's about those who served," Hershey said.

Hershey's husband and her father-in-law are both U.S. Navy veterans and will each have a banner displayed downtown.

Tracy Ebersole Hershey, center, is pictured here talking with Sam Thrush, President of Downtown Chambersburg Inc. along with Allen Coffman, Chambersburg Borough Council President during the ceremony Tuesday.

Chambersburg Borough Council President Allen Coffman shared his approval of Tuesday's event. 

"I’m glad they are up, it’s something that was long overdue. Anybody that drives around the state and into communities, these banners are out," Coffman said. "I couldn’t be happier. It’s really great.”

Chambersburg joins nearby communities such as Waynesboro and Greencastle that also display similar banners honoring members of the armed forces. 

For more information on the banners, email vfwpost1599@gmail.com.