Capitalizing on political success in last year's state government elections, hundreds of tea party patriots, hungry to fill 2012 government offices with a helping of the Constitution, gathered for an Independence Day picnic in Hollidaysburg on Sunday.
"Politicians are stepping all over the Constitution, and they need to be held accountable for it," said Brandon Auman, Mount Aloysius University student senate president, who is earning degrees in history-political science and English.
Auman joined with others at Legion Park who share common goals for limiting the federal government's spending and influence over individual rights, including freedom of religion.
Mirror photo by Russell O’Reilly
Potential 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Marc Scaringi (left) speaks with Terry Otto of Duncansville at Sunday’s FreedomFest, sponsored by the Blair County Tea Party.
Voting for a president who would decrease the United States' $13.7 trillion in national debt is crucial for tea party supporters, including Central High school teacher Phil Waite, a St. Francis University graduate with a degree in history.
"China will call on the nations who owe them. I'm not going to leave my children in servitude because of government spending," said Waite, one of five speakers who called on tea party members to vote in 2012 elections, remembering their success last November in seating conservatives in Pennsylvania.
Tea party picnickers spoke with potential 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Marc Scaringi, a Pittsburgh attorney, who intends to challenge incumbent Democrat Bob Casey.
"I'm motivated and inspired by the tea party's fight to return to a constitutionally limited government," Scaringi said.
Sharon Bream and Cheryl Rupp, Altoona school board candidates, posted their campaign signs at the picnic grounds as well.
The women said they were motivated by Pennsylvania tea party coordinator Diana Reimer to run for seats on the Altoona Area school board.
"Change starts at the local level - school boards and municipal offices," Reimer said Sunday, speaking while standing on a flatbed truck decorated with American flags fluttering in the breeze across the field.
"The Bill of Rights, which limited the power of federal government, was signed right here in Pennsylvania," said Reimer, who started 10 tea party groups in Philadelphia since 2009.
She noted that it only takes one complaint to take prayer out of school or a hymn out of a graduation ceremony.
Waite, who also earned a master's of theology in Christian apologetics from Liberty Theological Seminary, said tea party members have more reason to be grateful than fearful.
"I believe the United States of America is still a land of opportunity ... a land blessed by a Holy God."
Mirror Staff Writer Russell O'Reilly can be reached at 946-7435.