HOUTZDALE — Attracted to a bustling coal region, people settled into what would become Houtzdale more than 150 years ago. The township will celebrate its 150th birthday at the upcoming Houtzdale Days.
Named after Dr. Daniel Houtz, Houtzdale was settled in 1870 and incorporated into a borough in March 1872. The celebration of the area begins July 21 and runs through July 24. This is the first time the Houtzdale Days is a four-day event, according to Chairwoman Joyce Weatherholtz.
The organizers had plenty of time to plan the event after the pandemic led the group to cancel last year’s festivities, Weatherholtz said.
“It’s not like we didn’t have time to plan after last year,” Weatherholtz said. “People are excited to come out and see each other.”
The festivities kick off Wednesday, July 21, with an opening and pledge of allegiance from local scouts at 6 p.m. Residents and visitors can showcase their talents at the open mic later in the night. On Friday, the 10th Annual Houtzdale Day 5k Run/Walk & Fireman’s Challenge starts at 7:30 p.m.
The event continues Saturday. There will be a kids fishing derby with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. The celebration will include an ice cream truck, balloon man, cupcakes and hats along with noise makers.
The parade, which is organized in conjunction with the Houtzdale Fire Co. No. 1, kicks off at 6 p.m., according to Weatherholtz. A display of fireworks by R&R Fireworks will close the night.
Prior to the four continuous days’ festivities is the Houtzdale Car Show on Sunday, July 18. The show will be at 224 Houtz St. Awards will be presented at 4 p.m. The show acts as a fundraiser for the Kids Day on Saturday, according to Weatherholtz.
Weatherholtz noted the Houtzdale Days wouldn’t be possible without the support from the community.
A hub for the coal and railroad industries, Houtzdale has drawn in a variety of guests over the years. In 1890, President Benjamin Harrison visited the small town, according to the Chicago Daily Tribune. Businesses shut down for the visit. The President was met by a 12-person committee and “provided by a carriage drawn by four white horses.”
Residents continue to take pride in Houtzdale. The Houtzdale Revitalization Association is one organization working to bring the community together, according to Treasurer Ann Berenbrok.
The HRA will have a booth at the Houtzdale Days. The organization, founded in 2019, is relatively new and seeking community input, according to Berenbrok. People can take a questionnaire at the HRA’s booth.
“We would like to know what the community wants,” said Berenbrok. “We’re feeling our way around right now.”
The day before the car show, the HRA will be holding the first annual yard sale and flea market from 8 a.m. to noon.
The idea for a yard sale began last year, according to Zachary Bloom, member of the HRA. The yard sale was put on hold as the pandemic limited social gatherings, but the organization didn’t give up.
“We want to revitalize Houtzdale and just bring people together again,” Bloom said.
The yard sale does overlap with second day of the 100 Mile Yard Sale. The HRA didn’t intend to have the two events overlap, according to Bloom. The organization wanted to tie in with the Houtzdale Days and other activities in the month of July.
“That’s just how things fell,” Bloom said. “July is a big month… To connect with (the Houtzdale Days) and bring everyone together for that, that was the best option for us.”
The yard sale does have a cost attached. To gain a spot costed $10 up to July 10 and $15 after July 10. Profits go the HRA, which will use the funds to hold other activities or projects in Houtzdale, according to Bloom.
The pandemic set back the organization, Bloom stated, but the HRA did hold a cleanup this year. The borough allowed the organization to use restrooms and an area to set up. PennDOT picked up the garbage for free.
The groups in Houtzdale have various projects, Bloom noted. The Houtzdale Recreation Authority, for example, has been working on the ballfield. With all the groups coming together, anything is possible.
“We can all work together to really make a difference,” Bloom said. “One of the things I love is that we have a small town, we have big ideas and we can do big things.”