Over the past year, several local municipalities, including Moosic, have been paying homage to their veterans with sponsored banners hung along main thoroughfares.
Now, Old Forge is joining the fray.
During the past few weeks, Old Forge Mayor Bob Legg and a committee of borough veterans — Lou Cusumano, Mike Graham, John Haluska, Ken Houston, Robert Kania, Leo McLane, Richard Melucci and John O’Hearn — have been collaborating on the Hometown Heroes banner project, a tribute to borough men and women who have served or are currently serving within one of the branches of the United States military.
Haluska and his wife, Bonnie, initially approached Legg with the idea for the project. As an ardent supporter of vets — his father was a Korean War veteran — Legg was all too happy to get the ball rolling.
“I have a real soft spot for veterans. That’s a group of people who have done so much for the country who have gotten so little in return. So, I think this is the least we can do,” Legg said. “This group of people involved in the project has really taken off. John and Bonnie have done a tremendous amount of work.”
The group enlisted Jaworski Sign Co. in West Scranton to create the banners, which come with a $160 sponsorship and can be purchased by veterans or their family members. Area business leaders and individuals are also being encouraged to sponsor the program. Sponsor names will be included on specialized sponsor banners.
Sponsor applications are available at the Old Forge Borough Building, as well as the VFW and a few borough businesses. For more information, contact Legg or borough manager Mary Lynn Bartoletti at 570-457-8852.
Made of a vinyl material, the banners will be 30 inches wide by 60 inches tall, and will include the veteran’s picture and service information, including commendations.
Legg said the banners will be placed along Main Street and other main roads, depending on demand.
“If we get a deluge, we can go down Moosic Road, we can go down Oak Street,” said Legg, noting Bartoletti and the borough DPW have also been a huge help on the project. “Wherever we can put them we will. Hopefully, we’ll have them all over town.”
The committee intends to spread out the banner installation in three waves – the first on Flag Day, June 14, the second around the Fourth of July and the third around Sept. 11.
The group hopes to have about 25 sponsored banners by the time of the first deadline, Legg said.
“We’re at about 12, 15 right now, and I definitely think we’re going to get more between now and the deadline,” he said. “I think people around town will get behind it. Old Forge is a very close-knit town and people take care of their own.”
The banners will hang until Veterans Day, when they’ll be stored away for protection during the winter months. Next year, they will hang from Memorial Day to Veterans Day. After two years, the banners will be turned over to their sponsors.
Legg said the group would like to do a formal ceremony commemorating the beginning of the program sometime in the next few weeks.
“It’s a great program. I’m 110 percent behind it,” Legg said. “When you have enough people believing in something, you can move mountains.”