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Block Parties, Church Picnics, and other gatherings

What good times! Block parties, bazaars, church picnics, and other festivals have been popular summertime events in the Coal Region for many years. Many of these are still going strong. All of them bring back fond memories for Coal Crackers, the common thread being food, beer, and good friends. They are wonderful examples of the rich cultural and ethnic tapestry that thrives in the Coal Region to this day.

Here's the Top Ten....

  1. The Ashland Boys Association (ABA) Parade - Ashland
    The ABA Parade and Party has been happening for 99 years and is still going strong! Lots of people submitted memories about this party, including watching the Ashland Mummers perform, drinking beer out of milkshake cups, being chased by the "wild Indians", and making your own confetti. Occurs every Labor Day.
  2. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Festival - Shenandoah
    Part block party and part religious festival, the Italian Church festival has been an annual event for decades. A major part of the festival is the traditional parade through town where church members carry a statue of the Blessed Virgin and parade watchers pin money to the statue. The block party serves Italian wedding soup, pizza fritta, and pasta fazole. The whole thing is topped off by fireworks at the end of the night. Occurs in July.
  3. Yorkville Hosie Block Party - Pottsville
    With 10 cent beers on a Tuesday night, the Yorkville Hosie still attracts a big crowd! This is a favorite party for the south of the mountain crowd.
  4. Lithuanian Day - Lakewood Park
    In its heyday, this festival was so popular that folks would sleep overnight on the picnic tables to save a spot for the next day. Lots of people sent in their memories of fun times at Lakewood Park: the train, the wild mouse, the penny arcade, the rowboats. The big party was in the Lakewood Ballroom. The festival occurred on a Sunday in mid-August. It is now held at the Schuylkill Mall.
  5. Bavarian Summer Festival - Lakewood Park
    This was the largest of the ethnic festivals held each year at Lakewood. Real German oompah bands and local polka bands performing in the ballroom. At it's peak in the mid 70's, the festival attracted celebrities such as Billy Carter and the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club (!). Affectionately known as the Barbarian Festival, this party included the original polka mosh pit.
  6. Polish American Fire Co. Block Party - Shenandoah
    Another great Shenandoah block party, this one with all the Polish trappings: halupkies, pierogies, and of course, bleenies.
  7. Transfiguration Ukrainian Catholic Church Block Party - Shamokin
    Some of the best churchlady pierogies and great bean soup. The premier summer party in Shamokin. Held the first week in August.
  8. St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church Picnic - Primrose
    St. Nick's church is located in Minersville. The annual picnic is held outdoors in Primrose. This party has been an annual event for decades. We're talkin' great Ukrainian foods, polka music, and beer.
  9. Pittston Tomato Festival - Pittston
    Fun, food, and tomatoes! A very popular annual festival in Pittston. Attended by tens of thousands of people. Details at: Pittston Tomato Festival
  10. (tie) Lion's Club Block Party - Mt. Carmel
    A pet parade, a baby parade, and a costume parade. And some great drunken brawls.
  11. (tie) Polish Day at South Cass Fire Co. - South Cass picnic grounds
  12. (tie) St. Stanislaus Church Block Party - Shenandoah
    More great Polish food, polkas, and beer.

Honorable Mention

  • 4th of July at Memorial Park - Jim Thorpe
  • 4th of July at Shamokin Band Shell - Shamokin
  • 4th of July at St. Clair Gun Club - St. Clair
  • 4th of July bush parties - Various locations
  • Altamont Block Party - Frackville
  • Anthracite Heritage Day Parade - Shamokin
    Last week in August
  • Any Frackville Block Party - Frackville
  • Brady Fire Co. Clam Bake - Brady
    Men only
  • Campfires Picnics - Llewellyn
    Big black kettles of chicken corn soup, and bean soup with hot dogs cooked in it.
  • Centralia Block Parties - Centralia
  • Citizen's Block Party - Mahanoy City
  • Columbia Fire Co. Block Party - Shenandoah
  • Covered Bridge Festival - Knoebel's
  • Cruise Night - Pottsville
  • Delano Block Party - Delano
  • Dominic Grasso's Place - Girardville
    First Saturday in June; softball, horseshoes, volleyball, beer
  • Doo Dah Parade - Girardville
    Celebration of Spring; ended for insurance reasons
  • Englewood Fire Co. Block Party - Butler Township (Frackville)
    Best bean soup and bleenies
  • Felittese Festival (Our Lady of Constantinople) - Old Forge
    Weekend after Labor Day; $15,000 raffle. Tripe, sofritto, porketta sandwich, sausage & peppers, gnocchi, sfogihtelli, fig cookies.
  • Fireman's Convention - ???
  • Fireman's Parade - Various towns
  • Freeland Homecoming - Freeland
    Unrelated to football; at least one good fight
  • Friedensburg Block Party - Friedensburg
    Memorial Day weekend
  • Friendship Fire Co. Block Party - Frackville
    First of the season; best fire truck parade; best halushkies and bleenies
  • Funfest - Hazleton
    2nd weekend in September. Week long event.
  • Girard Hose Co. Block Party - Girardville
  • Good American Hose Co. Block Party - Mahanoy City
  • Halloween Parade - St. Clair
  • Hegins Carnival - Hegins
  • Holy Family Church Bazaar - Sugar Notch
    Last weekend in July
  • Holy Rosary Church Block Party - the Foot
  • Independent Coal Miners Picnic - Hegins
    15 years running, second Sat. in August. Oxtail soup, ham, turkey, corn on the cob, etc.
  • Irish Festival - Hecksherville
    Last weekend in July
  • Italian Church Block Party - Mahanoy City
    Late August, a 3 day festival
  • Jenkins Township Hose Co. Picnic - Luzerne County, Pittston area
    August; playing the Irish Sweepstakes
  • Lake Hauto Annual Picnic - Lake Hauto
  • Locust Gap Fire Co. / St. Joe's Church - Locust Gap
    Hot dogs cooked in beer
  • Men of Marian Picnic - Jim Thorpe
    At Memorial Park in Jim Thorpe; formerly at Lake Hauto
  • Most Precious Blood Church Picnic - Nanny Goat Hill (Hazleton)
    Pin money on the Madonna Del Monte Festival; candles; replica of a feast in Italy
  • Our Lady of Mercy Church Picnic - Slabtown
    Bleenies, halushki, Yuengling from the Catawissa Bottling Co. First Sunday in August.
  • Our Lady's Parish Picnic - Mt. Carmel
  • Polish Church Bazaar - Mahanoy City
    Best bleenies
  • Polish Day (St. Stanislaus Church) - Minersville (held in Primrose)
    Held at the South Cass Fire Co. picnic grounds
  • Posties Grove picnics - ???
  • Rangers Block Party - Girardville
    Best bleenies and flitch
  • Rescue Hook & Ladder (the Hookies) - St. Clair
    Where everyone is old enough to drink; Memorial Day
  • Sacred Heart of Jesus RC Church Picnic - Dupont
    First weekend in August.
  • Shamokin HS Band Booster Block Party - Shamokin
    Funnel cakes, french fries (with red vinegar and salt), bbq chicken, and bleenies with ketchup and jelly. Maybe the boy you liked would walk you home
  • Shen Heights Fire Co. Block Party - Shenandoah Heights
  • Slavic Festival - Mahanoy City
    The "stodda-bobbas" there made the best pierogies and bleenies in the region
  • South Cass Fire Co. Picnic - Primrose
  • St. Ambrose Church Picnic - Deer Lake
    Prior to WWII, this was held at the fair grounds in Cressona. A week long party, complete with horse racing.
  • St. Ann's - Scranton
    Multi-ethnic. Friday, Italian crooner; Saturday, polka band; Sunday, Irish Balladeers
  • St. Anthony of Padua - Cumbola
  • St. Anthony's - Ranshaw
    Music by The Three Aces, featuring Ace Wall on accordion and Flash on the drums.
  • St. Casimir's Block Party - St. Clair
    Late July, early August. Always guaranteed a fight at the bar.
  • St. Ed's Block Party - Shamokin
    Now the Mother Cabrini block party (since St. Ed's and St. Stan's consolidated)
  • St. Gabriel's Festival - Summit Hill
    At St. Joseph's Church
  • St. Jerome's Church Picnic - Dutch Hill
  • St. Joe's - Wilkes-Barre
    Hillside Street
  • St. John the Baptist Block Party - Lansford
  • St. John's Block Party - Larksville
  • St. John's Parish Picnic - Maizeville
    Beer in glass glasses for $0.50
  • St. Joseph's Block Party - Frackville
  • St. Mary Magdalen Church Bazaar - Lost Creek
    Before the church burned down; many girls came to see Ripper Jones, the man who had all the sex appeal.
  • St. Mary's - Wilkes-Barre Heights
  • St. Mary's BC Church Picnic - Hazleton
  • St. Mary's Church Picnic - Kulpmont
    Now Holy Angels; August
  • St. Mary's Church Picnic - Swoyersville
    Kryger Bros. Orchestra playing polkas 'til 2:00am
  • St. Mauro Festival - Kelayres (McAdoo)
    A full-scale carnival
  • St. Patrick's Day at the Humane Fire Co. - Pottsville
  • St. Patrick's Day Minstrel at St. Mary Magdalen Church - Lost Creek
    Irish-themed talent show
  • St. Pat's Block Party - Pottsville
    In front of the Yuengling Brewery; Labor Day weekend
  • St. Paul's Church Picnic - Atlas
  • St. Stan's Polish Church Picnic - Shamokin
    Fathers Day weekend; Genessee beer. Now the Mother Cabrini block party (since St. Ed's and St. Stan's consolidated)
  • St. Stephen's Bazaar - ???
    Food cooked in the Miner's Hall. Bingo played with chicken corn; penny pitches, wheels, best of all - the bleenies.
  • Sts. Peter & Paul Church Bazaar - Plains
  • Sts. Peter & Paul Church Picnic - Dutch Hill
  • Summit Hill Memorial Day Parade - Summit Hill
    Memorial Day weekend
  • Ukrainian Seminary Day - ???
  • West End Fire Co. Picnic - ???
    Early June. Check out the web site.
Poll taken in September, 1999
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