By Ed Runyan
Celebrate Poland celebrates both the history of the village and the United States, so reminding everyone that President William McKinley once lived and moved about here seems right on target.
At 11 a.m. today, an Ohio historical marker will be dedicated at the site of his boyhood home at 210 South Main Street, now Home Savings and Loan.
But the village has other sites where McKinley spent time — at the Poland Academy, for instance. And many of the homes along Main Street carry markers of their own, indicating the year they were built — many of them in the mid-1800s, when the McKinley family came to town.
The 25th president, born in 1843 in Niles, came to Poland in 1852 to attend school and left in 1861 to serve in the Civil War.
On Friday night, Celebrate Poland was mostly about giving thousands of children and their families an excuse to enjoy a good old-fashioned parade and get in the mood for the Fourth of July.
“It’s definitely a family affair,” said Holly Kollar, holding her youngest child, a daughter, while her two sons sat nearby. Children and families were everywhere.
“I think it’s become an annual tradition that our family looks forward to, especially here in Poland,” said Kollar, of Poland.
“It’s so picturesque. It’s the leadup to the Fourth of July,” she said. “It’s as American as apple pie.”
Not far away, Ron Snyder of Poland walked through the grounds near Village Hall at the corner of Main Street and Cortland Avenue wearing a shirt he bought in Yorktown, Va., bearing an American Flag and words from the Declaration of Indendence.
Snyder said he celebrates the Fourth of July and is happy to begin the celebration a few days early.
“It’s the greatest country in the world,” he said of the United States. “I feel blessed to be in this country, to have the freedom we do, compared to other countries. I don’t think there’s ever too much celebration of the independence of our country,” he said.
Cara Carramusa, who grew up in Poland, said she’s happy to celebrate Poland at the event every year.
“It’s a nice place to be. It’s a good time,” she said. “All the kids are here. You have to embrace times like these, when you bring people together to celebrate something — the happiness of kids, people enjoying being carefree.”
Carramusa said she was going to check out the event’s attractions and talk to people. “I’m sure we’ll see a million people tonight.”
Carlie Rayback, 14, and her friend Nora Hernon, 14, said they are looking forward to today’s Chalk It Up Contest at 9 a.m. on the front lawn of Village Hall, the Poland Idol competition at noon at the Village Gazebo and fireworks at 10 p.m.
Merle Madrid, one-time Poland mayor, and his wife, Bette, enjoyed Friday’s parade from the side yard of their home on Main Street, built in 1880.
“It’s a beautiful little town, very quiet,” he said. “We enjoy the patio. We can see everything that’s going on in the village, just about.”