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Palmerton festival organizers remember dedicated volunteer

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    Lauren Cortright, left, and Jodi Smale, sing “Amazing Grace” during an opening ceremony tribute to Jane Stroup at the Palmerton Community Festival on Friday. A longtime co-coordinator of the festival, Stroup passed away in February after a battle with cancer. JARRAD HEDES/TIMES NEWS

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    Susan Arner, coordinator of the Palmerton Community Festival, hugs Glenn Stroup, husband of longtime festival co-coordinator Jane Stroup, who died in February. Stroup, a longtime co-coordinator of the festival, passed away in February after a battle with cancer. JARRAD HEDES/TIMES NEWS

Published September 08. 2018 07:49AM

Food, rides and games will again rule the weekend in Palmerton, but those who plan the town’s most popular annual event will undoubtedly notice someone is missing this year.

The 29th Palmerton Community Festival will be the first one without its longtime co-coordinator Jane Stroup, who passed away in February after a battle with cancer.

The festival committee honored Stroup during an opening ceremony Friday night, presenting a plaque to her husband Glenn and other members of her family.

“We miss her every day,” said festival committee secretary and co-chair Jodi Smale. “She loved the town of Palmerton and she loved this event. She worked behind the scenes with pride and commitment to help make every event successful.”

Smale joined Lauren Cortright in singing a rendition of “Amazing Grace” and the crowd observed a moment of silence in Stroup’s honor.

To know Stroup was to know a fun-loving woman who loved to joke around, even while helping to organize and pull off an event as big as the festival.

Smale remembered some of those moments on Friday.

“She was just one of those people who liked to have fun in everything she did,” Smale said. “Just last year, she was standing inside an area of caution tape pretending to be a moose in a zoo enclosure. She could also turn a competitive game of water guns into shooting each other rather than the target.”

One of the highlights of each festival for Stroup was when the Mahoney Brothers would take the stage, as they will again Saturday night. The show would often turn into a dance party for Stroup and her grandchildren.

And of course there was Jane’s favorite ride.

“She had to get her scrambler fix in,” Smale said.

Holly Sell, Palmerton councilwoman, called Stroup a rare, bright spot in a world where volunteerism is dropping to record-breaking lows.

“We only need to take a look around this weekend to see the commitment from Palmerton area citizens, just like Jane, have to their community and organizations,” Sell said.

With Stroup gone, it is now up to Smale to take over opening ceremony duties, a responsibility she takes with pride.

“I’ll have to do it well for her,” Smale said. “It’s a big spot to fill and it won’t be easy. I promise to her I will do the best I can, because I watched her and learned from the best.”

The festival continues from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.

On Saturday, TNT Dance Studio will be in action from 11 a.m. to noon; the Palmerton Community Band from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Bandstand; Band of Brothers from 2 to 4 p.m. on the Main Stage; Sunshine Symphony from 5 to 7 p.m. on the Main Stage, and the Mahoney Brothers from 8 to 10:30 p.m. on the Main Stage.

Sunday will see entertainment in the form of Jean and The American Dream Band from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Bandstand; The Belle Tones from 2 to 3 p.m. on the Main Stage; the Rehrig Brothers from 4 to 6 p.m. on the Main Stage; and Karen as Dolly from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on the Main Stage.

Jane was a priceless asset to her family and to the community. I remember her well, growing up and going to school through the twelfth grade with her, then seeing her over the years in my trips back to PA. She is surely missed, but her example is an inspiration to all who want to make a difference in their own portions of the world.

Ed Reitz, Hemet, CA

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