Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Golden Jubilee: The Battle of Borough Park

Last summer, I started a series of posts about Ambridge's 1955 Golden Jubilee. I was just about done, with only the final day of the celebration to write about. And I left the last post I wrote, about the historical pageant "Frontiers of Freedom," with a cliffhanger:
The Golden Jubilee wasn't over yet. Monday, July 4, was "Armed Forces" Day, featuring a "Mock Battle" in Borough Park. Eighty members of the National Guard would shoot 7,000 to 10,000 rounds of blank ammo, and dynamite charges were to be placed to simulate mine explosions and cannon fire. What could go wrong with that?
And there I left readers hanging because I got distracted by another topic, "Oh, look, Davidson's once had two stores!" And then another, "I have the names of the boys at the Greek Coffee House!" here it is a year later, and it's really about time to wrap up the Golden Jubilee series with the events on July 4. And just as the celebration began with a bang, it ended with one too.

Armed Forces Day, as with most of the Jubilee celebration, was packed with activities: an Armed Forces Exhibit; guided tours of Old Economy; the final judging of the Brothers of the Brush beards, the Sisters of the Swish costumes, and the talent hunt; the final performance of "Frontiers of Freedom," capped with fireworks. Oh, and that mock battle in Borough Park,* scheduled for 2 P.M., which the June 29, 1955, Beaver Valley Times anticipated would involve "plenty" of shooting and land mine explosions.

The July 5, 1955, Beaver Valley Times reported that about 1,000 spectators watched the battle involving Company B of the Infantry Battalion, Pennsylvania National Guard. The object of the battle was for the attacking force to cross the park's baseball field to take the hill on the opposite side, held by 10 men. At intervals during the battle, previously placed charges were set off. It must've been quite a show.

I never found any mention of which side of the battle was victorious.

Machine gunners
mock battle at Borough Park
July 4, 1955
Beaver Valley Times
July 5, 1955

Times caption:
DEFENDERS -- Machinegunners of the 110th Infantry Battalion, Pennsylvania National Guard, New Brighton, defend a hill in their mock battle in Ambridge Borough Park Monday. The demonstration was a part of Ambridge Golden Jubilee.
The article noted that "A Beaver County Civil Defense first aid team stood in readiness," along with fire trucks from Ambridge and Harmony Township. It pays to be prepared.
Sgt. Edward Harker, 12th Marine Division, Pittsburgh, put on a flame-thrower demonstration after the battle.
Sgt. Harker was "wounded" when the wind shifted, sending the flame back at him. He suffered first degree burns of his right hand and wrist and minor burns of his arm and face. 
Members of the Civil Defense first aid unit treated the sergeant.
After all that excitement, the fireworks that ended the Jubilee might have felt rather low-key and on the quiet side.

If you want to read the previous posts in the Golden Jubilee series, here are links:

The human pirohy

The Big Train Robbery

Brothers of the Brush, Sisters of the Swish

Let the celebration begin!

Old Fashioned Bargain Days

Old Fashioned Bargain Days ads

The "mammoth spectacle" parade

Golden Jubilee Program

"Frontiers of Freedom"

Ambridge trivia: Did you know...? #8


* Now called Walter Panek Park

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