Published: Sunday, August 6, 2006
Old Timer's Day event will mark 100 years
This year's picnic is dedicated to the memory of Charlie Shepp.
By LAURE CIOFFI
NEW CASTLE, Pa. Lawrence County Prothonotary Helen Morgan couldn't have predicted 43 years ago, when someone asked her to spoof a 1920s singer with the same name, that she would still be involved today with Old Timer's Day.
But Morgan, now in charge of the annual event, is busy making preparations for the annual picnic that marks its 100th anniversary from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday at Cascade Park.
"The older people make a habit of coming and meeting each other. They do look forward to it," Morgan said.
While it's called Old Timer's Day, the event is open to anyone who wants to attend, she said. But it's mostly populated by the elderly, and several nursing homes bring residents, Morgan said.
The first picnic was Aug. 23, 1907, and drew about 7,000 people. The next year the crowd grew to 11,000 and the third year it peaked at 17,000 people.
Morgan said attendance in the last few years has been about 450 people.
This year's picnic will be dedicated to the memory of Charlie Shepp, longtime chairman of Old Timer's Day picnic, who died earlier this year.
Mayor Wayne Alexander said Shepp will be in his thoughts as he addresses the crowd at this year's event.
"This really will be Charlie Shepp's day. He was involved with Old Timer's Day as long as I can remember," said Alexander, who worked with Shepp at the Youth Development Center in Shenango Township before they both retired.
Alexander said Shepp's estate has left money to help pay for some of the food and drinks at this year's event.
The free event includes food, dancing, prizes and souvenirs. Entertainment will be provided by organist Ray Melcer.
Morgan, now 70, recalls her first Old Timer's Day.
She was 27, and event organizers asked her to wear a wig and pose on top of a piano like the famed 1920s and 1930s singer with the same name.
It left a lasting impression.
"I've been on the committee every year since," she said.