Proudly raising the banners high
TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Josh Friebolin (left), chairman, Washington Township board of supervisors, and Ron Rucker (right) vice chairman of the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Foundation, unveil the banners that will eventually adorn the Village of Emerald.
Ask anyone about the village of Emerald, and the first thing that typically springs to mind is its impressive pyrotechnics display.
Which is why it should come as no surprise, then, that a dozen banners created for the tiny village pays tribute to its popular fireworks attraction.
Washington Township, in cooperation with Northern Lehigh Future Focus, unveiled the banners at a news conference on Tuesday at the Star Hose Company in Emerald.
Ron Rucker, vice chairman of the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Foundation, said the banners project was "exciting.
Robert Stettner, a member of NLFF, said the organization was "very happy to assist the township with this very worthwhile project."
Stettner said the banners will help "beautify" and showcase the "rich history" of the area.
Josh Friebolin, chairman of the Washington Township board of supervisors, credited artist Claire Lucas for the design.
"I think it looks wonderful," Friebolin said. "Hopefully, these banners can be appreciated by not only our residents, but the people who come to visit."
Friebolin said the 12 30-by-48-inch double-sided banners will be hung on PPL light/electric poles on Main Street and several side streets throughout the village.
The emerald-colored banners depict the roof line and bell tower of the old Emerald Fire House, with fireworks exploding overhead to pay homage to the long-standing tradition that attracts hundreds annually to the village on the first Saturday in July after July 4.
The banners, which were designed and manufactured by Downtown Graphics of Salisbury, NC, also include text that reads "Village of Emerald, settled 1848."
Funds for the banners were made possible with a $1,000 grant from the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and a local Adopt a Banner Program held in the township. Additional monies were secured from the township, as well as private donations.
The township will maintain the banners, which will be displayed from spring through fall. The NLFF provided logistical support for the banner project.
A small village immediately west of Slatington along Trout Creek, Emerald was situated along the Slatedale Branch of the Lehigh Valley Railroad.
The branch opened in 1870 and allowed for the transportation of slate and slate products from the western quarries to the Lehigh Valley Railroad's Main Line and eventually to market.
The area's first settler, Nicholas Kern, purchased 300 acres of present day Emerald for his sons, which were eventually divided into three farms.
The village was originally known as Franklin, but the name was changed to Emerald in 1885 because no state was permitted to have two identically named post offices. A town in western Pennsylvania already laid claim to the name Franklin.
In its heyday, Emerald was home to many businesses, such as a slate factory, coal yard, gas station, three general stores and a pretzel factory.
Construction of the Pennsylvania Turnpike's Northeast Extension in 1955 forced the demolition of numerous structures at the lower end of Emerald.
The NLFF is a Slatington-based community visioning group that serves the Northern Lehigh area. Last year, the group unveiled new banners in Slatedale, as well as new Main Street banners that were hung on light poles on the new General Morgan Bridge in Slatington.
The Slatedale banners were funded through a grant from the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and a local Adopt a Banner Program held in the township. Additional monies were secured from the township and NLFF, which coordinated the project. The Main Street bridge banners were made possible with a Street Amenities Grant from Lehigh County.
Previous banners were erected along Main Street in 2004, in recognition of Slatington's National Register Historic District, and to welcome people to the borough.