WAYNESBORO-Twenty-five years ago, a group of community members united to create a celebration of Waynesboro Hospital’s 75th anniversary that would go on to become an annual community celebration.
Back then, Waynesboro didn’t have an event to celebrate the Independence Day holiday.
“It was odd,” recalled Joe Stewart. “Many towns all around us had big festivities, but
Stewart, a Waynesboro physician and president of the Rotary Club of Waynesboro, was asked by then Hospital Chairman, Bill George, to chair a celebration for the hospital’s 75th anniversary.
Stewart talked to Rotarians about combining efforts with the hospital and making the event not only an anniversary celebration, but also a yearly community event that would draw a crowd.
But Stewart couldn’t do it alone. He gathered a committee including Pamela Schroff, Tom Rocks,
William L Cornett, Becky Dietrich, Nancy Dinterman and Rodger Savage.
Originally a two-day event on Friday and Saturday, July 4-5, 1997, it featured
educational booths, caricature artists, carnival games, a white elephant sale, square dancing,
many bands, a soccer tournament, a magic show, karaoke, a community dance and fireworks display.
“Fireworks have improved the most over the years,” Stewart said. “From a relatively modest show, they are now a long, sophisticated and arful display drawing as many people in the evening as during the day.”
Grove (now Manitowoc) provided the signature crane for the huge American flag flown each year.
The Waynesboro Fire Department provided concession stands and gaming booths.
More than 100 volunteers contributed their time and talent to the first Jubilee. Due to its success, the Hospital and Rotary co-sponsored a second event in 1998. That year it became just the Summer Jubilee and additional organizations joined with the hospital and Rotary to make it bigger and better.
Since then, Summer Jubilee has become an annual Independence Day community event with an independent standing committee taking over the organizing, financing and logistics of the event.
According to organizers, it takes about $20,000 each year to finance the activities. “All of that comes from donations from throughout the area–nothing from the borough or the township,” Stewart said.
But funding the event isn’t the biggest challenge.
“It’s a constant stuggle to make each Jubilee fresh with something new,” said Stewart. “Changing
entertainment is one way to broaden appeal. In recent years, inflatables of various kinds can
be rotated from year to year.”
Stewart said the standout attraction came from above. “We had helicopters landing on
what is now the upper high school practice field through the day to take visitors for rides
around the area. That was a one-time thing, but clearly the most unique,” he said.
So far, the biggest obstacle to the event was the pandemic, when the entire event was cancelled for
2020, followed in 2021 by a seriously truncated event.
This year’s Summer Jubilee–the hospital’s 100th celebration–promises to return to the size and scope of years gone by. Look for more information on the event in the next few weeks.