JT bustles with activity all weekend
VICTOR IZZO/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS This soaring Eagle was one of the ice sculptures created at both Josiah White Park and in front of the Mauch Chunk Opera House.
The streets, shops, and businesses of the downtown area of Jim Thorpe bustled with activity over the Presidents' Day Weekend during WinterFest 2013.
The 19th annual event was sponsored by the Jim Thorpe Chamber of Commerce and local businesses.
Multitudes of visitors strolled Broadway and Race Street, visited the shops and businesses, and dined in the restaurants of the downtown area and beyond.
WinterFest activities included both ice and wood carving demonstrations, Civil War re-enactors, horse-drawn carriage rides, strolling musicians, the Jim Thorpe Mug Walk, and in the evenings, live entertainment at the Mauch Chunk Opera House.
One special highlight for the youngsters present in town was the smashing of candy-filled pinatas each day in Josiah White Park.
The ice and wood carving demonstrations took place in both Josiah White Park and in front of the Mauch Chunk Opera House.
A very popular event with the visitors was the Chamber of Commerce's fundraiser Mug Walk during which, for the price of a $10 Jim Thorpe mug, visitors could look for signs which indicated participating shops and stores that would fill those mugs with something free, including cookies, soup, coffee and other surprises.
In addition to all of this, music filled the air on Broadway as the Faculty Brass, a quartet playing tunes of all genres from marches and polkas to recent pop tunes strolled up and down the thoroughfare .
Also popular with visitors were the Civil War re-enactors of the 69th Pennsylvania Irish Volunteers who put on a living-history display both days.
The 69th was the only Pennsylvania regiment to carry the green Irish flag into battle.
This Battle Flag was given to the regiment by the people of the city of Philadelphia.
The regiment was recruited from Philadelphia Irish militia companies of the 2nd Regiment, Pennsylvania Militia and was mustered into service on August 19, 1861.
Its first action was at the Battle of Balls Bluff and the 69th also served in the Peninsula Campaign, during which it was complimented by Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker for making "the first successful bayonet charge of the war".
The unit played a large role at the Battle of Gettysburg, helping repel both Brig. Gen. Ambrose Wright's charge on July 2 and Pickett's Charge on July 3.
Its casualties over the last two days of the battle were enormous, losing 143 men out of 258, including its colonel, lieutenant colonel, two captains, and a lieutenant.
The regiment's ranking officer, Maj. Duffy, was seriously wounded but refused to give up command until the battle was over with the 69th finishing the campaign under the command of a captain.
Speaking on Saturday, WinterFest co-coordinator Mike Guy said that "everything is going great and so far the weather's been with us."
He added that "there will be a free magic comedy show both days for the kids and families" and noted that the wood carvings would be for sale to help cover costs.
In addition to Mike Guy, Dan Hugos and other volunteers have also been instrumental in organizing the 2013 WinterFest celebration.
Each day of WinterFest 2013 wrapped up with live entertainment at the Mauch Chunk Opera House.
On Saturday evening audiences were treated to a Fleetwood Mac tribute concert by "Tusk".
On Sunday evening the Allentown Band, which was founded in 1828, performed concert band music at a world class level rarely heard.
Their venue is much like that of famous band leader John Philip Sousa who actually appeared many times at the Mauch Chunk Opera House around the turn of the last century.