Victorian Weekend events conclude at 5 p.m. today.
By AMBER HYLAND
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
MERCER, Pa. -- On a weekend meant to recall Victorian times, it was hard not to consider the weather.
"It's a little hotter this year," said Deborah Plant, chairman of the Mercer Victorian Weekend Committee. "I don't know how they survived in Victorian clothes."
Arts and crafts vendors, musical performers and house and cemetery tours brought people back to a time of corsets, lace and, yes, heavier clothing this weekend in Mercer.
The 17th annual Mercer Victorian Weekend kicked off at noon Friday with an ice cream social on the courthouse lawn.
Festivities continue today with many events, including a classic and antique car show, a performance by the Great Pretenders and a town and country house tour. Events end at 5 p.m.
Grande Victorian Parade
People lined lawn chairs on the sidewalks of downtown.
"Here they come!" a woman shouted as the sound of the Mercer Area Junior Senior High School Marching Mustangs playing "Five O' Clock World" carried past the corner of North Diamond Street.
Seniors perked up in their chairs smiling even more than the majorettes performing.
Moments before, a Red Hat Society chapter, the Border Queens, did the "Red Hat Strut," which looks like a country line-dancing version of the Detroit Hustle.
Loretta Sambull, a Red Hatter from Hermitage, said the Red Hat Society is fun for her because it is "nice to meet people and go out to events."
Spectators got the chance to meet plenty of baton twirlers, dog trainers and, of course, candy tossers during the Grande Victorian Parade.
Among the participants was the Western Pennsylvania Civil War Re-enactment Society, a group that used frequent pauses in the parade to fire their guns.
"Ready. Aim. Fire!" a re-enactor shouted.
After the smoke from the shots cleared, some people were still clutching their hearts.
About 30 arts and crafts vendors set up shop on the courthouse lawn, selling almost everything from Guatemalan handbags to wooden roses scented with rose oil.
At The Bears Pause Adopt-A-Bear tent, girls sat around a table stuffing plush animals. One girl at the table stuffed a rabbit and smiled wide enough to scrunch the painted cat whiskers on her cheeks.
"I want this one," another girl said to her mother as she pointed to an unstuffed Dalmatian.
"Do you take credit cards?" the mother asked the vendor.
Although many of the arts and crafts offered were modern, some vendors stuck to the Victorian theme.
Suzanne L. Bennett of Rostraver, Pa., has come to Victorian Weekend for three years to sell Victorian Era-inspired hat boxes, brooches and jewelry.
Because Bennett likes the era so much, she dressed in Victorian style for the affair.
"I made this pin," Bennett said as she pointed to a cameo and ribbon brooch that held her white shawl around her shoulders.
She bent down to show off the embellishments she added to her hat. Flowers made of pastel colored ribbons climbed up the brim.
"Everything else I bought, unfortunately," she said, laughing.
The Mercer Salvation Army also had a tent at the weekend event.
Lt. Maria Bandzak stood under the tent next to tables filled with religious pamphlets and fund-raising sale items.
Bandzak has lived in Mercer for 31/2 years, working with the Mercer Salvation Army.
"It's been wonderful. I can't picture doing anything else," she said, adding that people shouted their congratulations to her as she participated in the parade. Bandzak just became a lieutenant.
Bandzak and her husband, Joe, will conduct closing vespers at 4:30 p.m. at the bandstand today.
Victorian Era showcased
"I want to live in the Victorian Era. All the women did was sit around and do needlework all day," a woman said to a man sitting among the vintage clothing at t Helen Black Miller, a shop that is hosting the "Back to Yesteryear" display. "And they were skinny, too."
The man responded, "Yeah because they kept tightening those corsets. That's why they didn't live very long."
As people browsed through the clothing, the man said to them, "I'm vintage, too. Yeah. The old guy back here."
Civil War encampments were set up nearby the shop.
Up the street at the Republican headquarters, an Edison phonograph demonstration and display were under way.
Greg Acker stood among part of his collection of phonographs, one of them from 1898. Another is from 1916, during the last generation of cylinder phonographs.
He owns 54 phonographs and got interested in collecting them after buying one at an auction.
"I tinkered with it and just caught the bug," he said.
Acker brought phonographs with external horns because he said it is what people are used to seeing.
"I was hoping that some of the younger people would come in," Acker said. "Most younger people have never even seen a record. They don't know what a 45 or an LP is. They grew up with CDs."
Acker said most of the people who came in already had an interest in phonographs and remembered when their grandparents had one.
Outside Republican headquarters, people walked to where the "apple dumpling" signs were pointing. Some children led their parents down the sidewalks, looking for the face-painting booth. Women adjusted their Victorian hats and found a place in the shade while many had to wonder how they managed in 90-degree weather in those corsets.