“We Remember” to be theme of 2019 Soldiers Reunion

Special To The ONE
Staff Writer

NEWTON — “We Remember” will be the theme of Soldiers Reunion 2019, Catawba County’s historic patriotic festival, when for a week in mid-August its war veterans are honored. The 130th Soldiers Reunion returns to downtown Newton with family-oriented activities.

Reunion general chairman Wayne Dellinger, a former mayor of the county seat city, has announced that planning is underway for the tribute to local heroes — and events that now make up a week-long festival.

Events will include dances, beauty pageants, a cruise of classic vehicles, musical entertainment, athletic events, and a highlight parade focusing on the theme of American patriotism.

“This wonderful gathering of citizens from all over Catawba County has been continuing since 1889 and has proved to be a red-letter time each year for thousands of folks,” Dellinger said. “It’s when we say, ‘thank you’ to our honored veterans and ‘welcome’ to everybody who comes to share in that tribute and to have wholesome fun as we proclaim, we love America.”

Seven beauty pageants when girls from toddlers to young women will vie to be named a Miss Reunion will take place at Newton-Conover Auditorium prior to Reunion week. Debbie Huss, long-time chair of that Reunion event, will coordinate the pageants.

Reunion Week will kick off Sunday, Aug. 12. Events continue through Thursday, Aug. 15, the traditional “third Thursday of August” date that has reigned since the 19th century. The showcase parade will take place that afternoon. Other activities will follow later that week.

About 10,000 people visit downtown Newton throughout the week to take part in the festivities which Newton American Legion Post 16 and the Newton Merchants Association sponsor and organize.

The Soldiers Reunion observance in Newton is credited as being one of the longest running patriotic celebration in the United States not based on an official holiday. The tradition began in the county seat town on July 4, 1889, when Civil War veterans answered a statewide call for recognition of their wartime service and to register for pensions. The gathering, then on Court Square, led to annual veterans’ reunions, starting the popular patriotic event then called Old Soldiers Reunion.

Now the celebration offers a variety of events for veterans and the county citizens to enjoy, many of which are still centered around the iconic 1924 Courthouse Square.

The week begins with the Classic Car Display and Cruise on Courthouse Square on Sunday, Aug. 11. Vintage cars and trucks from across the decades up to 1972 will be on display from noon to 6 p.m.  Then they will take to the streets and cruise in both directions.

Outdoor concerts entertain the crowds on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday beginning at 7:30 p.m. on The Square. Gospel music fills the air one night, beach music gets everybody moving, dancing in the streets, another evening, and a country music concert is set for a third evening.

The late afternoon baby parade takes place Wednesday, Aug. 14, on the east side of The Square, when youngsters are judged based on their patriotic costumes and decorated conveyances. Winners are selected in various age categories. A pet show follows the youngsters’ event.

The week peaks on Thursday, known as Reunion Day. Events begin at around 9 a.m. as artists, craftsmen, local businesses and food vendors set up around The Square. A 10 a.m. memorial service honoring veterans and members of patriotic organizations in the county who have died during the past year, held on the west side of The Square, is followed by a jazz concert running from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The American Legion post hosts a midday fish fry for veterans at its headquarters on Southwest Boulevard.

At 4 p.m. the official Reunion ceremony begins on the west side of The Square, when a guest speaker delivers a keynote address and the beauty pageant winners are introduced.

The anticipated Soldiers Reunion Parade immediately follows the ceremony, with a grand marshal leading the parade on a one-mile route through downtown Newton. The parade attracts 8,000 to 10,000 viewers due to the numerous entries and floats, all of which must have a patriotic theme.

Municipalities and schools are among the groups from across the county to be represented in the parade.

” This year is the 130th celebration and we are looking to make it one of the most memorable,” Dellinger said.

If your business is interested in helping sponsor any of the activities through the week or if you are a vendor who would like to have a space up town on parade day, just contact Eric or Wayne Dellinger at 828 466 2695.