A Jim Thorpe veteran has been selected to serve as grand marshal of the 2013 Jim Thorpe Halloween parade.
Francis O'Donnell, 84, will head the 19th annual parade that will step off at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, from the Jim Thorpe Area High School parking lot area under the sponsorship of the Jim Thorpe Lions Club.
The parade will proceed down Center Street, turning onto Ninth Street and then traversing North Street until it reaches Second Street, at which time it will turn left onto Center Street. After it disbands, parade participants will board buses that will transport them to Memorial Hall, where they will be treated to hot dogs, drinks and candy. Awards will also be presented at that time.
O'Donnell was selected to lead the parade because of his longstanding commitment to community service. According to Kathy Schwartz, parade committee member for the Lions Club, the selection "honors the commitment to duty and volunteerism he has displayed throughout his life."
O'Donnell and his wife of 56 years, the former Joanne Izzo, together have seven children, 11 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Born in East Mauch Chunk, Francis has been a lifelong resident of Jim Thorpe. He attended Immaculate Conception Church and graduated from Mauch Chunk Catholic High School in 1948.
After graduation, he worked on the Lehigh Valley and Jersey Centrail Railroad for three years.
He left for service at Camp Beckinridge, Ky., on May 22, 1951. After nearly two years in Japan and Korea, he returned to East Mauch Chunk on Feb. 28, 1953, with the rank of Staff Sergeant.
Upon his return to civilian life, he joined the American Legion and Mauch Chunk V.F.W. As a member of the American Legion for 62 years, he has served as commander three times.He became active in both the American Legion and V.F.W. and served on many state and national committees.
He also served as the 30th District deputy commander and chaplain and past Carbon County commander and is a member of the Knights of Columbus, holding the position of Grand Knight in Council 598, Jim Thorpe. He is also a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
O'Donnell worked for the Bethlehem Steel Company for 31 years, drive bus for Getz Transportation, Keystone Medical and for rafting companies and Head Start, and also worked for Dr. David Moylan in many capacities. He is very active in the Panther Valley Senior Center.
Parade participants should report to the high school area at 3 p.m. on the day of the parade to begin the lineup. For parade information, please call Kathy Schwartz (570) 325-2911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Division 1 – form in driveway in front of the high school - Jim Thorpe Police Department and Mayor Michael Sofranko; Dolan – Jones- Martino American Legion Post 304, Grand Marshal Francis C. O'Donnell, Jim Thorpe Lions Club, Pa. Girl Scout Troop 30134 (Girl Scouts are Powerful); Carbon County Lion/Lioness, 2013 Fair Queen and Court, Jim Thorpe Area High School Band, Committee to Elect Doyle Heffley, Cub Pack 138, Jim Thorpe National Bank (You're in Paradise when you bank at JTNB).
Division 2 – form in first parking lot in front of school - Jim Thorpe Fire Department, East Mauch Chunk Eatery, Girl Scout Troop 34029 (Sticking with Girl Scouts), Bowmanstown Fire Company, Available Storage, Dance Explosion, Carbon County Republicans, Girl Scouts of Nesquehoning (We go batty for Girl Scouts), Our Lady of the Angels Academy Band (Theme from Batman), Carbon County Democrats, Carbon C.A.R.T., Carbon County Friends of Animals, and Mauch Chunk Motorheads.
Division 3 – form in large parking lot - Girl Scouts (Sprouse), Committee to Elect Jean Papay, Rendano Family, Perseverance Jazz Band, Daisy Girl Scout Troop 30133 (helping our daisies grow); Stepps Hauling & Recycling; Dollar & More (Horror Float); Girl Scout troops 34092 and 30137; Forks of the Delaware Shriner's Club (Tin Lizzies); Class of 1964; Juke Box Cruisers Car Club, and Santa Claus.
The club members will be carrying donation buckets along the parade route. Contributions will be used to expand the parade in the future.