Festival reflects history of Olde Mauch Chunk
The three-day weekend Heritage Festival in Jim Thorpe commemorating the glory days of the Victorian era in Olde Mauch Chunk, brought back not only memories of days gone by, but helped benefit the bringing back to life one of the period's last remaining architectural gems on Mauch Chunk's historic "Front Hill."
Until recently, Kemmerer Park Carriage House had deteriorated so badly, it was to the point of facing possible demolition.
Front Hill was once occupied by the elegant mansions of some of Mauch Chunk's, and the nation's, most wealthy and influential families. They were the entrepreneurs who created and sustained the American Industrial Revolution.
The hard work and dedicated efforts of volunteers from throughout the community of Jim Thorpe have helped save the carriage house from falling victim to the wrecking ball.
The Heritage Festival featured a wide variety of events highlighting the Victorian history and background of Olde Mauch Chunk.
Events included visits to the Mauch Chunk Museum, an open house at the carriage house, horse and carriage rides, an architectural history tour, a costume-dress ball and a ghostwalk.
During one event, 10 of the "millionaire residents" of Olde Mauch Chunk disembarked from a train at the railroad station and proceeded to the gazebo in Josiah White Park, where they told their personal stories.
On Saturday and Sunday volunteers from the Youth Forestry Camp No. 2 were guides at the carriage house, which was open to the public for tours.
Youth Forestry Camp No. 2 assistant director Don McKee arranged for Youth Development Supervisor Jennifer Butler, together with Jack Sterling and John Drury, to train four of the residents of the camp to be tour guides.
One of the most colorful highlights of the weekend was the Victorian Ball, which was held in the Mauch Chunk Museum Ballroom, and included an extravagant buffet donated by some of the local restaurants.
Those attending the ball also enjoyed some theatrical entertainment in the form of a two-part play put on by the Eckley Players and Michael Martin McKee Productions.
The first half of the play was presented by the Eckley Players who portrayed a confrontation between coal miners' family members and mine owners.
The second half of the play was put on by Michael Martin McKee Productions and portrayed the realities of the miners' plight in the days when mine owners worried about their mules more than the welfare of the men who worked in their mines.
After the play concluded, Helen Torok sang "Sixteen Tons," a song about miners who lived and worked under the oppressive brutality of the coal companies.
Following the entertainment, participants enjoyed dancing to period music, with most dressed in authentic-looking apparel.
All monies raised through the Victorian Ball and other events will benefit the Kemmerer Park Carriage House renovation project, which is a cooperative effort of the museum, historical society and the borough of Jim Thorpe.