Swiss Days opens under perfect summer skies
The temperature was 75 degrees, and blue skies were decorated with fair weather clouds as the bells rang in the opening of 2013 Swiss Days on Thursday evening. Local residents and visitors responded by bringing an excellent turnout to the opening night of this year’s event.
Swiss Days Chairman Chris Reusser introduced Berne Mayor Bill McKean who gave the official welcome and greeting for this year’s festival.
A local color guard displayed the colors in the presentation of the National Anthem, followed by a recording of the Swiss National Anthem.
Checks were presented to the Taylor Family in honor of Nick Taylor, fallen soldier who gave his life in Afghanistan last summer.
Charities involved include the Adams County Community Foundation, Nick Taylor Scholarship, First Missionary New Coats Project and Care Packages for Soldiers.
One individual who has attended Swiss Days from the beginning is Phyllis Burry, who has lived on East Main Street for 63 years.
“I’ve been to every Swiss Days that’s been,” said Burry. “I love to see the people. I see lots of people that I don’t normally get to see during the year. And I enjoy the visits of people from outside of town who came back for this.”
When Swiss Days first came to the community, Sara Zeigler was in a 21-year tenure of managing The Fashion store in downtown Berne. During those times, stores would have Sidewalk Sales and clear the shelves of many items in an attempt to clear the inventory for the holiday season.
“We would get rid of lots of stuff during Swiss Days,” commented Zeigler. “I like the way Swiss Days brings lots of people to town. I’ve seen lots of friends over the years at Swiss Days.”
“Swiss Days has come a long ways,” said 93-year-old Vernelle Yoder. “I get a big kick out of it.”
Yoder chuckles when she talks about her Swiss heritage and how her grandmother was born in America after her family had come over from Switzerland.
“I love this town, I’m proud to be from Berne,” said Yoder.
A woman from Redkey came to the event with a close friend from Portland. It is the first Swiss Days that Shawna Stolz has been to since her parents passed away.
Stolz was once owner of a restaurant, Yesterday’s Inn, in Redkey. After the retirement of Gaylord Stucky as the manager of the Palmer House, he and his wife would visit the Redkey restaurant on a weekly basis.
“I am impressed because Berne still puts on such a great festival,” said Stolz. “A lot of small towns don’t do this anymore.
“My dad’s birthday was on July 28,” said Stolz. “Somebody here made hand-carved canes. My dad used to like to come over here and get those. It’s always so nice up here. Berne is such a nice clean town.”
“I’ve always liked this because Berne is such a nice clean town,” said Barbara Oxley of Portland. “Everybody seems to be friendly. My stepfather, mother and I used to come up here. We used to come here and just drive around the countryside.”
In his closing prayer, Floyd Liechty thanked God for the celebration of the local community and the celebration of national freedom.
Polka music and dancing began under the big tent with the Swiss Days stage. The aroma of freshly-prepared food permeated the area as people stopped on Main Street to catch up with what is going on in the lives of those they hadn’t seen for a while.
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