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From the Vault: News from the Friday, June 27, 1952 edition of the Press & Journal

Posted 6/28/17

$2,500 needed to finance project; date set Dec. 3 (Middletown balloon parade)

Twenty-five persons, representing a cross-section of borough civic, fraternal, service and patriotic organizations, …

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From the Vault: News from the Friday, June 27, 1952 edition of the Press & Journal


$2,500 needed to finance project; date set Dec. 3 (Middletown balloon parade)

Twenty-five persons, representing a cross-section of borough civic, fraternal, service and patriotic organizations, attended a special meeting held Tuesday night in the Community Building to discuss the possibility of staging the famous Jean Gros Christmas Balloon parade in Middletown next December.

Harry Melman, borough businessman, acted as chairman of the meeting and announced that the project, if presented, would be sponsored as a civic enterprise and not as a commercial project.

“We are not interested in staging this parade to make money for the businessmen,” Melman stated. “We want this affair to be a community enterprise for the enjoyment of our citizens, especially the children. If thousands of our people are interested enough each year to journey to Harrisburg, then I feel this project is worth putting on here in Middletown for the benefit of all.”

Melman told the group that a conservative estimate of $2,500 would be required to underwrite the project locally. This would cover the expenses of the balloon project as well as extending the borough’s Christmas decorations on Union Street as far as Center Square and providing adequate funds to attract from eight to 10 area high school bands to provide music for the parade.

Twenty tons of equipment would be involved in the parade, the same type that is staged annually in neighboring Harrisburg. Preliminary information forwarded by the Jean Gros organization indicates that at least 180 boys would be required to man the equipment which makes up the mile-long parade. The various type balloons require six to seven hours for inflation and the same time period for deflation.

The parade plans call for participation of at least 10 bands.

After a lengthy discussion during which the manner of financing the parade was presented, the project was given support by Beane D. Klahr and Edward Koons, both of whom supported motions to stage the event. Chairman Melman, asking for a show of hands from the group in support of the project, was greeted with a unanimous showing. There was no negative sign indicated.

The date set for the Middletown parade will be Dec. 3, Melman announced. He urged all representatives present to report to their respective groups and organizations so that community interest can be activated to raise the necessary financial support.

The mile-long parade which Middletown is interested in staging would include six 12-foot balloon soldiers, two balloon clown heads, a Porky Pig, a 12-foot clown, giant balloon letters spelling Merry Christmas, each being 12 feet high, a balloon Pinocchio head, a three-headed dragon which is 90 feet long, a 30-foot balloon rocket ship, a giant kangaroo with baby kangaroo in pouch, balloon Indian chief, Indian squaw, totem pole, Indian tepee, balloon horse 25 feet long, a 25-foot cow, giant balloon Sinbad the Sailor float which is 45-feet long and consists of a sailboat with three funny balloon sailors. This feature is followed by a 30-foot-long balloon fish, alligator (25 feet), two balloon clown heads, a giant calliope, a giant balloon train which includes an engine, tender and passenger coach, and a local Santa Claus float.

The Jean Gros parade represents one of the country’s oddest industries and their design and building has called for a spectacular amount of artistic imagination and engineering ingenuity. Although Gros has spent most of his life in the United States, he is of French origin and was impressed with the pageantry of European mummers parades. He wondered whether something similar would be popular in the United States. But the usual papier-mache figures of the mummers were too fragile and unwieldy to be carried from one city to another. Inflated figures made of rubberized fabric seemed the answer. Gros studied the Macy parades in New York.

His balloons, he discovered, would have to be considerably different. First they would have to be used in cities which had overhead wires — more than 15 feet high. Second, they would have to be air inflated because helium was far too expensive when the balloons were used every day. And third, the balloons had to be designed to be easily inflatable, quickly packed and simply transported.

Wounded in Korea

Mr. and Mrs. John L. Berrier, Elizabethtown, have been notified that their son, Cpl. John L. Berrier Jr., was wounded in action with the 7th Infantry Division in Korea on June 10.

Berrier, who has been evacuated to a hospital in Japan, has shrapnel wounds to both of his legs, and his stomach, chest and left arm.

In addition to a telegram from the Defense Department, his parents received a letter from his second lieutenant, explaining how Berrier was wounded.

According to the officer’s letter, Berrier, a rifleman in the 32nd Infantry Regiment, was engaged in night patrol action designed to bring back prisoners when he was struck by shrapnel from exploding hand grenades.

A graduate of Elizabethtown High School, Class of 1949, Berrier entered the service on March 28, 1951, and has been in Korea since January 1952.

Olmsted gets more jobs; mission strengthened

Olmsted Air Force Base will be responsible in 1953 for additional Air Force property with a much expanded dollar value under Air Materiel Command’s new decentralization program.

The program, started about June 1 and will continue until the end of the year, also will bring to Middletown 195 additional job opportunities, created to handle this extra workload. Some of these positions will be filled by specialists from AMC headquarters at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio.

Headlines from the rest of the edition

• Lancaster County tot drowns in a pool at his home

• Class of 1937 held reunion near Annville

• Church plans for 100th anniversary (Evangelical United Brethren Church)

• Sale or use of fireworks banned

• Ban on the manufacture of colored television sets is modified

• Area Scouts awarded achievement prizes

• Open house at Harrisburg Hospital

• Crow shooting fascinating and beneficial sport

Hot buys

• Home-rendered lard, 1-pound box, 16 cents; 2-pound box, 29 cents; 5-pound box, 73 cents. Also 50-pound cans. The Groff Meat Market, Phone 106, 13 N. Market St., Elizabethtown.

• South of Hershey and near Campbelltown. Modern single-frame dwelling. 5 rooms and bath, hot air heat, garage. half-acre of land, $10,500. Paul R. Hershey, Realtor, 1936 Derry St., Harrisburg.

• Delicious sundaes and sodas, Dolly Madison ice cream, air-conditioned for your comfort. Shoemaker’s Pharmacy, 200 Second St., Highspire. Phone 9-9820.