JT parade committee stepping down
RICK GRANT/SPECIAL TOT THE TIMES NEWS The three members of the Jim Thorpe Halloween Parade are stepping down after 15 years. They are: Mike Contar, Kathy Lienhard and Kenneth "Rump" Hurley.
The three Jim Thorpe residents responsible for planning, organizing and running the annual Halloween parade in the borough attended the borough's normal monthly meeting on Thursday night to close their chapter on the event and ask the council to help them find a new group to take over the event.
"Fifteen years of running the Jim Thorpe Halloween parade is enough," Mike Gontar told the council. "We're stepping down. We're all getting older. It's time for the younger ones to step forward and take this over."
Gontar was joined by Kathy Lienhard and Kenneth "Rump" Hurley. Together, the three have kept the popular event working smoothly for a decade and a half.
"It all started when I was talking to John Drury about Lehighton's Halloween parade," Hurley said. Later, the organizers of the Lehighton event would prove instrumental in helping Jim Thorpe get its new parade off the ground.
At the time, Gontar was president of the Jim Thorpe Chamber of Commerce. "We wanted to do something on this side of the river," he said.
Having the parade end at Memorial Hall made great sense as it was a free place to host an awards contest for the children and the homeowners who dressed up their homes for the holiday. In addition, keeping the kids on this side of the river made the event safer.
"We all applaud you," said borough president John McGuire. Residents and council members gave the trio a round of applause. "Everybody has always enjoyed the parade. Thank you for that. You've done a fantastic job and it's to your credit that you have money left in your account."
McGuire said the council would help reach out for volunteers to keep the parade going.
"We have everything on a disc, including all of the contact information so it will be easy for them," Gontar said. "And I'm willing to stay and help them get started."
Gontar said it would be best if three or four volunteers formed a committee that was not part of any other existing organization. He also said he hoped that whomever took over the project would encourage everyone in town to continue to decorate their homes for the holiday.
"We'd like to see the town do even more decorating," Gontar said. "We'd like the Chamber and other organizations to get behind it and help sponsor more awards."
Those interested in working on next year's parade are encouraged to watch the borough's website for more information at http://www.jtborough.org.