TYRONE - Since 1933, about 20 different churches from across Blair, Cambria and Huntingdon county have reunited each year to celebrate, take fellowship and have fun.
In it's 88th year, the Annual Sunday School Union Picnic has been described as a "joyful time." At DelGrosso's Amusement Park in Tipton, the picnic, held Friday, featured lemonade, ice cream and drawings.
The Rev. Carla Gregory-Beckton of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Altoona has attended the picnic since she was 5 years old and said it's a time of "remembrance."
Mirror photos Gary M. Baranec
Peter Mason of Charlotte, N.C., cooks up a batch of hamburgers on Friday during the annual African American reunion picnic held at DelGrosso’s.
Stephanie Rodgers, daughter Jayleen, 12, and Liz Miller pose for a three-generations family photo.
"Each Sunday School, we all get together and bring our Sunday school kids as just a way to fellowship and remember the Lord and what he's done for us."
The picnic is sponsored each year by the Sunday School committee, according to Gregory-Beckton, and each church contributes to raise funds for the event. DelGrosso's contributes by providing the churches with tickets at discounted prices, and funds are also contributed by independent businesses.
"I am a part of the Sunday School committee," Gregory-Beckton said. "I come in and see if they need help so I could give someone else a chance to enjoy themselves."
Dennis Eckard, assistant pastor at Mother Gethsemane Church in Altoona, said his favorite thing about the picnic is seeing kids come out and have fun. Eckard has been attending the picnic every year since 1995, and he describes it as "an awesome experience." According to Eckard, the picnic was first held at Lakemont Park, then the location was moved to Delgrosso's.
"I ran it for four years; now I come back every year to see family members," Eckard said. "It's a day for the kids to enjoy themselves and enjoy the weather. It's a great experience for families to come together."
With picnic attendance varying each year, Gregory-Beckton said the picnic has become a family reunion as well with more and more people attending each year. Linda Pearson-Jefferson of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church has been attending the picnic all her life and said she attends every year because it has become a tradition for her and her family. She has a family reunion at the picnic each year, and she brings her grandchildren. She said the atmosphere of the picnic has always been friendly and fun.
"You get to see people that you only see once or twice a year," Gregory-Beckton said. "So everyone tries to migrate back just to interact with everybody. To see the families working together, having a good time is such a blessing. It's a celebration from year to year."