Record Turnout For Lantern Walk

October 17, 2013 at 3:51 PM


Bob Zercher finished the tour as DuBois' Oldest Fireman.

            It was a record setting evening for the 6th Annual DuBois Area Historical Society Spirit of DuBois Lantern Walk. By the time the event ended, 11 walks were completed, taking 352 people back to the Great Fire of 1888.

            The number of tours and attendance were new highs. The previous attendance mark was 175, the first year of the activity.

            “The DuBois Area Historical Society is very pleased with the support from the community,” said Tom Schott, chair of the activity. “There were many who came to their first Lantern Walk and there was tremendous support from fire department members and their families. We were also encouraged by the number of young people in attendance including 29 students, seventh grade and up, and 34 children, sixth grade and younger.”

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Sue Stapleton (left) and Tharren Thompson talked about the start of the fire.

           Ideal weather helped create a perfect evening for recalling the 125th anniversary of the Great Fire of 1888, which destroyed almost the entire business district and left 3,000 homeless in the fairly new community of DuBois.

           Lantern carrying guides escorted the tours from the DuBois Area Historical Society along Long Avenue, Brady Street, and Scribner Avenue, stopping nine times to hear costumed performers provide parts of the story of the fire and its aftermath.

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Katie Raybuck (left), the young heroine, and Ginny Schott, the cat. 

          The characters include: Sue Stapleton as a Baker House employee, Tharren Thompson as a first responder, Katie Raybuck as a 12-year-old heroine, Ginny Schott as a nearly fricasseed feline, Tom Shade as angry bar tender and future first fire chief James Whitehill, Carolyn Rhoades as a tattered refugee, Mel and Karen Amrhein as some society folks from Philadelphia, Mike Gressler as banker M. I. McCreight, John “Herm” Suplizio as Burgess Hamor, and Bob Zercher as DuBois’ oldest fireman. Amanda Amrhein handled the sound equipment to provide the noise of an explosion. The City of DuBois distributed backpacks to all who attended the walk.

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Tom Shade (left), first firechief, and Carolyn Rhoades, a refugee.

                  Leading the tours were:  Paul Bojalad, Galen Kilmer, Nancy Rosman, Tom Schott, and Todd Thompson. Accompanying the tours were:  Gene Aravich, Jeanne Hayes, Beecher Klingensmith, Susie Shaffer, and Jerry Watson. The character parts and narration were researched and written by:  Gene Aravich, Galen Kilmer, Tom Schott, Virginia Schott, and Todd Thompson.

                 Providing addition support at the Society before and during the walk were:  David Beer, Nellie Beer, Ruth Gregori, Jean Hayes, Eileen “Pinky” Kalinowski, Carol Laughlin, George and Mary Reilly, Linda Riccadonna, Tom Rubritz, Todd Shindledecker, Cherie Shannon, Susie Shaffer, Will Shaffer, Susan Thompson, and DuBois High School students Brandon Raybuck and Cody Wood. All proceeds from the evening go to support the DuBois Area Historical Society museum and projects.


Karen and Mel Amrhein were the Philadelphia visitors.

            Additional support, assistance, and sponsorship came from:  the City of DuBois, Paul Syktich, Scotty's Donuts, Reitz Theatre, Joe's Tux Shop, and Jack Amick and St. Michael's Terrace.

              For the first time a DVD will be available for the Lantern Walk. HangHood Productions is creating the DVD featuring the entire walk plus extras including interviews with the performers, leaders, organizers, and participants; behind the scenes activities and much more. The DVD is $15 plus $5 for postage if mailed. Contact: DuBois Area Historical Society, 28-34 W. Long Ave, DuBois; telephone 814-371-9006; e-mail duboisareahistory@yahoo; or print an order form at:

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Mike Gressler (left) as M. I. McCreight, and "Herm" Suplizio as Burgess Hamor.

            What has been a record setting attendance year for the Society, with new attendance highs for the spring walk, luncheon, and Lantern Walk, will continue with a program by Carey Huber, Parker Dam Park Naturalist, presenting “Woodsmen and River Drivers,” Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. at the E. D. Reitz Museum, 28-34 W. Long Ave., DuBois. The program is free and open to all.

            Also upcoming are fundraisers with Ruby Tuesday’s, Nov. 15-17 (Voucher available from any DuBois Area Historical Society Board member or print out your own voucher at; and Hoss’s Steak and Sea House, Dec. 19 (voucher available from any DuBois Area Historical Society Board member).

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