by Angie Brown, Guest Author
In May of 1930, from all over the city, the streets in Olean, NY, were filled with groups of school children marching in orderly fashion. They were headed for the East Olean Park, where they all assembled to perform at the baseball field, Bradner Stadium. The civic leaders and school teachers planned something different for this Arbor Day. They came up with an exciting idea, making this an exciting day. I was in the eighth grade and a part of it, so I remember it well. As far as I know, this was the only time this presentation was carried out.
All of the school children from the age of about ten through high school would execute, in unison, simple exercises at the stadium. The exercises were practiced and perfected in the classrooms. The children would wear pastel colored dresses and shirts.
On the day of the presentation, the weather was perfect: warm and sunny. Each teacher led her class through the streets, on their way to the stadium. Extra police were on duty at every intersection. Traffic was diverted to one-way and was sparse. Arriving at the park, the groups were escorted through the short tunnel to their designated places on the field. With pride and joy, the parents and friends filled the bleachers. It was a “full house.”
Right on time, the music started and the exercises commenced, a beautiful spectacle of arm raising and foot stepping of hundreds of youngsters, all in unison. The pastel colors added to the beauty and pageantry of the students’ movements on the ball field.
At the close of the program, the audience was encouraged to join in singing the national anthem with the students. An enormous applause ended the gaiety and excitement of the performance. What an artistic presentation for all the people of Olean to enjoy, and such an encouraging and fulfilling endeavor for the students!
(For more articles by Angie Brown, click HERE)