Dupont has no shortage of centennial events heating up this summer.
This month alone saw the Dupont Centennial Bar Crawl, with stops at popular local watering holes such as Arturo’s, Andy’s Cafe, The Brickhouse, Dupont Veterans of Foreign Wars, Cebula’s Bar and Lounge and the Polish American Citizens Club.
There also was Centennial Day at the RailRiders on July 7. Dupont Mayor Dan Lello threw out the first pitch at the baseball game and Dupont was recognized on the occasion of its 100th birthday.
“That was awesome, to throw it out for Dupont,” Lello said of taking the pitcher’s mound at the start of the game. “We had about 100 people from Dupont there.”
To commemorate the event, the ball will be one of the items added to a time capsule, which will be buried near the Centennial Clock that will be erected near the borough building.
“Maybe 100 years from now someone will find it,” the mayor laughed.
The main event of the summer is yet to come, with the Dupont Centennial Celebration planned for Saturday, Aug. 26, and Sunday, Aug. 27.
“I’m hoping for a great turnout and an event to be remembered for the next 100 years,” said Bob Price, chairman of the Dupont Progress Committee, which has been organizing the centennial.
The weekend kicks off with the Dupont Centennial 5K Run/Walk. The 5K run starts at 9:45 a.m. and the walk starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 26, at the Dupont Polish American Citizens Club on Elm Street, with participants racing around town before concluding the race back at the club. Children are invited to participate in a 1-mile run starting at 9 a.m. Cost for the race is $20 for adults; $25 with a T-shirt, and $5 for children; $10 with a T-shirt. Registration forms for the race are available at the Dupont Municipal Building. Registration also can be completed online at runsignup.com/race/paDuPont/dupontcentennial5k or call Fred or Linda Lokuta at 570-451-1269 for information.
Following the race, the Centennial Parade will make its way through town, with the oldest and youngest residents being special honorees. Several local organizations will walk in the parade, and one of the highlights will be the Eclectic Circus, featuring acrobats, jugglers, hoop dancers, stilt-walkers and other entertainers.
The fun doesn’t end with the parade. A two-day community picnic is planned Saturday and Sunday behind the former Ben Franklin School that will feature live musical entertainment, games, food, a petting zoo, a touch-a-truck event, cow pie bingo, horse and carriage rides, hayrides and a children’s movie in the park.
While the celebration has been 100 years in the making, plans for the centennial events have been underway for a few years, as well.
“You have to start early to do something this big,” Price explained.
Halfway through Dupont’s 100th year, the centennial committee has already organized some very successful events, including a Centennial Dinner in March and a special Mardi Gras celebration in February that Lello said has been one of his favorite events so far.
“We had a Mardi Gras party that was really nice. We had a full house of 400 residents,” Lello said.
Lello said one of the best parts of the centennial celebration is seeing everyone come together to plan and enjoy the activities being held throughout the year. He said that is one of the benefits of living in a small town that he described as a melting pot, founded by immigrants from Poland, Italy, Russia and all parts of the world.
“Everybody works together and we try to do the best we can. If we have a disagreement we try to work it out,” Lello commented.
“It’s a great team,” Lello said of those planning the centennial events. “We are all in this together.”
Lello said he is proud of the town he was born and raised in. He said he is happy to celebrate this milestone with the community and is relishing the part he gets to play in this celebration.
“How many people are actually the centennial mayor?” he laughed, noting his place in the town’s history.
Price agreed the sense of community has been the best thing about the centennial celebration, noting the Centennial Dinner held in March at the Veterans of Foreign Wars was one of his favorite events held so far. He said one of the highlights of the dinner was listening to the stories 102 year-old resident Margaret Milewski had to share about the town.
“It brought the entire community together,” Price said of the event.
Price said he has enjoyed looking back on the town’s history while preparing for the centennial. The centennial committee organized Dupont History Days, where residents brought in memorabilia, newspaper articles, photos and stories of the borough’s past. He said one of the most surprising things he learned was the story of Dupont native Faustin Wirkus, who was crowned the King of La Gonave. While serving with the Marines in the 1930s on the Haitian island of La Gonave, Wirkus met the island’s queen, who thought he looked strikingly like her late husband. Thinking he was the reincarnated ruler, she made Wirkus king of the island, where he ruled until he was transferred by the Marines in 1939. According to Price, a parade was held in Dupont in his honor after his return from the service and a sign at the entrance of town declare Dupont “Home of Faustin Wirkus, the King of La Gonave.”
“That’s not something every town had, but we did,” Price commented.
In addition to the main celebration in August, there are still several events planned throughout the year, including a free outdoor movie at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, sponsored by the Dupont Youth Baseball Organization. The family-friendly movie “The Sandlot” will be shown at the Little League field. Also, a yoga event is planned in September, a Halloween party will be held in October and a Christmas tree lighting will be held in November. In the fall, the committee also hopes to stage an attempt for the Guinness Book of World Records for the greatest number of polka dancers.
“We have a great committee working on these events,” Price said. “We hope everybody is enjoying our centennial year.”