NW 150  Harrisburg 6.4.19

North Wales Borough officials pose at the Pennsylvania Capitol building in Harrisburg on June 4, 2019 after hearing a resolution from State Rep. Liz Hanbidge commemorating the borough's 150th anniversary. From left to right are Mayor Greg D'Angelo, council President Jim Sando, Borough Manager Christine Hart, Assistant Manager Alan Guzzardo and 150th anniversary committee Co-Chair James Schiele.

NORTH WALES — As North Wales Borough continues celebrating the 150th anniversary of the town's incorporation, word has spread as far as the state Capitol, and even overseas.

Council members publicly thanked State Rep. Liz Hanbidge, D-61st, for formally recognizing the town and its birthday in Harrisburg last week.

"We appreciate Representative Hanbidge doing the resolution, and also in the house chamber, a number of other representatives from southeastern Pennsylvania came up to congratulate us, and to tell us they thought it was a wonderful event as well," said council President Jim Sando.

Planning began last year on a series of local events meant to commemorate a century and a half since North Wales Borough was formally incorporated in 1869, and so far successful events have included a dinner ball in February, a vendor bingo in March, a breakfast fundraiser in April, a steam train excursion and fireworks show in May and a yard sale on June 1.

At the start of the June 11 council meeting, Sando and Borough Manager Christine Hart showed video of the latest: a recent visit to Harrisburg to see Hanbidge formally read into the record House Resolution 359, which commemorates the borough's anniversary.

"Incorporated on August 20th, 1869, the borough was part of the 1702 William Penn land grant, and originally given the name 'Gwynedd,' in honor of the homeland of the earliest settlers who emigrated from the northwestern part of Wales," Hanbidge said.

"North Wales Borough reflects the deep history, not only of my legislative district, but of the entire commonwealth. As the first and oldest borough in the North Penn Valley, North Wales' tight-knit community remains a shining example of the best and most unique values of our commonwealth," she said.

As she spoke, the official state video of the proclamation showed a delegation from the town in the Capitol gallery, including Sando, Hart, Mayor Greg D'Angelo, Assistant Manager Alan Guzzardo, and Jim Schiele, co-chairman of the 'North Wales 150' planning committee.

"With a Main Street lined with shops, restaurants and homes, a restored and renovated firehouse with one of the highest volunteer rates in the state, a SEPTA train line running through the center of business district, and a  borough hall and area library in the backyards of residents, North Wales Borough is an idyllic, hardworking Pennsylvania town," Hanbidge said.

Hart said, in addition to the formal recognition, she enjoyed seeing the ornate architecture of the Capitol building, and she and Sando recalled a chance encounter when the borough team was waiting for a tour guide.

"A tour guide comes up, and asked 'Are you here for the tour?' We said yes, and she said 'Is anyone else here for a tour?' A couple sitting over on the side of us raised their hand," Sando said.

"She said, 'Where are you from?' and the gentleman said from England. She asked where, and he named a city, and she said 'Where is that?' What do you think he said? 'North Wales,'" he said.

After recovering from their initial shock at that coincidence, Hart and Sando said, they enjoyed spending the rest of the tour with the couple from the borough's namesake.

"We toured with our fellow North Wales-ians, that were Welsh. And they could speak Welsh too — we couldn't, but they asked us if we could," Hart said.

Solicitor Greg Gifford joked that the encounter with the couple, and the 150th, may require a change to the town's codebook.

"In lieu of the anniversary, there's going to be a new ordinance that all of those living in North Wales Borough must learn Welsh," Gifford joked, and Sando replied through laughter that it would be on the agenda at a future meeting.

All summer, residents can buy commemorative 150th anniversary items  including an anniversary cookbook, t-shirt, water bottle, ornament, and photo book. Other upcoming events scheduled for the 150th anniversary include an "Incorporation Day" celebration on Aug. 20, which will feature all bells, whistles and sirens in town ringing all at once at 6:30 p.m., followed by a free concert by the Montgomery County Jazz Band in Weingartner Park. After that day, the final celebration will be a 150th anniversary parade through town starting at 1 p.m. on Sept. 14, featuring local social groups, drum and marching bands, military re-enactors, and more.

Hart also announced that the ongoing 150th celebrations have helped the borough reclaim a relic from its earliest days, found by a family member who has donated a one-of-a-kind antiquity to the town.

"She was cleaning out her grandfather's basement and came across original general ledgers from 1890 to 1893, from the North Wales National Bank," Hart said.

"They are phenomenal. And along with the ledgers, that were all done in ink and pen, are the original board minutes from the North Wales National Bank. They have graciously donated them, and they will be on display soon," she said.

A different resident has also donated a photo album showing flower gardens that had grown on property now developed by Merck, that had been part of North Wales before being donated to Upper Gwynedd. 

"They were the largest gardens in the world at one time. So that was another great donation in promoting our 150th: people are paying attention, and donating their great stuff for our history museum," Hart said.

That history museum is located on the second floor of the borough municipal building, 300 School St., and is open to the public during normal business hours from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

Borough council next meets at 7 p.m. on June 25 at the municipal building, and for more information or meeting agendas and materials visit www.NorthWalesBorough.org. For more on the 150th anniversary celebrations visit www.NorthWales150.org.

comments powered by Disqus