Joe Steber, a member of the Lehighton 9/12 Project, said a year ago a tea party was staged in Lehighton Park to complain about the dismal governmental state of affairs.

"It's hard to believe ... things have gotten worse," he complained.

He was one of about a half dozen speakers during the tea party that was attended by a crowd that varied in size during its three-hour duration.

A highlight was the parading around the park by about four dozen sign-carrying people, with the messages on them protesting excessive government spending, high taxes, health care reform, and various other topics.

Steber stressed, "We don't gather as Republicans or Democrats or Libertarians. Today we're gathered here as Americans."

The theme for the tax day tea party was "We Are Tea'd," with tea being an acronym for "Taxed Enough Already."

Elaine Thompson of Towamensing Township, one of the organizers, observed, "We had a good turnout and everybody seems to be enthused." She said she was especially pleased with the ideal weather conditions for the event.

Another coordinator, Sandy Dellicker of Summit Hill, commented, "I thought the speakers were excellent and I'm very happy with the turnout."

Other members of the committee which planned the event were Pat Centefanti, Peter Salerno and MaryEllen Salerno.

Another speaker was Kevin Dellicker, nephew of Sandy Dellicker and a graduate of Northwestern Lehigh High School who is campaigning for U.S. Senatorial Candidate Pat Toomey.

Kevin, who owns his own business, complained about the assault on small business by the government. He said such negativity by the government toward small business is detrimental to economic growth.

He also noted that he serves in the Pa. National Guard and has been deployed to combat zones four times. Although sent to five different nations all defined as being in the combat zone he told the gathering, "I was not prepared for a domestic enemy; an enemy from within."

The speaker accused that our present liberal political leaders are assaulting three valued institutions in America: capitalism, democracy, and individual liberties.

He said he is encouraged by events like the tea party in Lehighton, stating, "The health care debate has been a wake-up call."

He mentioned that he is a successful businessman, has a great family with three children, and has good health, stating, "God has blessed us as he has this country. That's why I'm willing to fight for it."

Jake Towne, a candidate for Congress, spoke on the topic of taxes, stating, "The federal income tax has grown far beyond its' original scope. The income tax was first placed into circulation as a 1-7 percent tax on only the very richest Americans. The first IRS income tax form had all those earning less than $20,000 paying nothing."

He said that while the rate for the richest has receded, for the middle class this tax has grown 500 to 1,000 percent from this time period.

James May of the Sam Rohrer campaign, also was a speaker. Rohrer is a candidate for governor.

People stood in the crowd holding large signs, small signs, colorful signs, and signs with artwork on them. Among the messages were "Don't Spread My Wealth, Spread My Work Ethic" and "You're Fired!," a message to political leaders.

Three men wore shirts with large yellow lettering which stated, "Tyranny Response Team."

Numerous "Don't Tread on Me" signs appeared. The phrase appears on several early flags of the United States.

Lori Smith of East Stroudsburg was among the audience members, stating she came to the tea party in Lehighton because none were held in her area.

Asked why she attended she said, "We're fighting big government and big spending. I'm sick and tired of no one listening to us in Washington. They forget who put them there."

She said she doesn't represent any organization, stating, "I'm just a regular, independent voter."

The next event for the Lehighton 9/12 Project will be a "Meet the 122nd State Representatives" night on April 21 at the Mahoning Valley Ambulance Building, 902 Mill Road, Lehighton. Candidates will speak for five minutes, than take questions for five minutes.

So far six of the seven candidates for the seat being vacated by longtime state Rep. Keith McCall have indicated they will be attending.

The program begins at 6:15 p.m.