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Williamsburg pride on display

200 banners hanging for town’s military heroes

05/25/21 Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski / Hometown Hero banners hand along the streets of Williamsburg.

WILLIAMSBURG — Downtown Williamsburg has taken on a patriotic look just in time for Memorial Day.

More than 200 banners of Hometown Heroes are hanging from utility poles and light standards throughout the downtown area.

The Hometown Heroes project, spearheaded by Williamsburg Women’s Civic Club member Michelle Stultz, is to honor military personnel and first responders with a Williamsburg connection.

Stultz, an Army veteran, whose grandfather — Nelson “Rusty” Irvin — was a World War II veteran, got the idea during her travels as a milk inspector for the state Department of Agriculture.

“I saw these in some other small towns and I thought, ‘Why can’t we do that?’ I brought it to (club members’) attention, went to the borough for approval, and it just went from there,” Stultz said.

“I thought it was kind of neat; neither myself or no one on council had any reservations about doing it,” Mayor Ted Hyle said.

Stultz and club President Donna Tate had some initial concerns about the project because the cost for a banner was $200.

“We were concerned because of the cost. We were not sure how many would be able to sponsor them,” Stultz said. “We expected 20 to 25 for the first round and got 52. A lot of people were hesitant because they couldn’t see the banners. We opened a second round and now have 153 more.”

Tate had reservations since COVID-19 was still fresh.

“I said, don’t you think this is not a great time to do this? Going through COVID, people may not have the money,” she said. “The officers agreed to give her the go-ahead. I am awestruck. It is unbelievable to have a small town to have over 150 banners hanging. I didn’t think it would take off.”

The goal was to have the first round of banners in place by Memorial Day and the second round by July 4, Stultz said.

“We will keep them up through Veterans Day and take them down and re-hang them next spring,” Stultz said.

Most of the banners are hanging from Penelec utility poles, and there are two on the Williamsburg Memorial Bridge, which crosses the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River and leads into town from Catharine Township.

Those are in honor of two local men who died while serving their country — National Guard Spc. Chad Edmundson, who died in Iraq in 2009, and Robert Bishop, who served in the Army and was killed in Korea on Nov. 4, 1951.

Stultz said additional banners will be placed in town with some being placed on poles in Catharine Township.

The royal blue banners, manufactured in Connecticut and made by Rileighs Outdoor Decor in Bethlehem, display a photo of the hero with an American flag at the top.

The banners were hung by members of the Williamsburg Volunteer Fire Company, borough employees and Woodbury Township employees.

Cordell Ebersole Construction provided equipment and time donations.

Stultz admits she was surprised by the response to the project.

“We have a lot of hometown pride. I have never been through a town that had this many,” Stultz said. “I hope it stimulates our town. We have so many visitors here because of the trail, hopefully there is something more we can help develop and grow in our small town.”

Both Hyle and Tate are pleased with the results.

“We are happy people are coming out and doing some things after what we have gone through the last couple of years,” Hyle said. “You can see our people are trying to make our town look a lot better and get things cleaned up. This is very positive for Williamsburg.”

“I am proud of my hometown for supporting the Hometown Heroes banners, and Michelle, for taking the initiative to do the project,” Tate said. “The support for the banners has been more than anyone expected.”

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 814-946-7467.

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