The annual Pride in Port tradition will occur on Sept. 19, and with it will be an assemblage of the greatest melting pot of culture, including businesses, schools, organizations and associations, we’ve ever seen since the opening of Main Street School in 1909.
Newcomers to Port should be aware of its rich history that spawned with an idea by the Port Chamber of Commerce and this newspaper nearly three decades ago. Roy Smitheimer (the Chamber of Commerce president at the time and a 1972 Schreiber grad) walked into the office of this newspaper and told me (then, editor, and a graduate of Schreiber the same class as Roy), “Hey, I have a really good idea to implement that involves celebrating the people of Port and bringing everyone together. What does Pride in Port sound like to you?”
The tradition continues to flourish 27 years later. It was in this office that the idea of a Pride in Port essay contest was spawned, along with the idea of holding an adult dance (year one, the dance was held in the Schreiber gym and attended by 350 people, which morphed to 600 people at the Polish Hall in subsequent years). Community leader Barbara Faticone planned all future dances, complete with themes. We also partnered with the AAPW’s Sandy Cardiello and Joe Marro, who wanted to tie-in the new tradition around Schreiber Homecoming. Schreiber Assistant Principal Bob Bartels joined this effort to help us launch a homecoming parade that involved lavish home-built floats representing every school in Port. We also turned to the senior citizen population, recruiting the help of Alicia McCarvill (director of the Manorhaven Senior Citizens Center) to be the cheerleaders at the parade, and encouraged them to hold a senior citizen luncheon at Schreiber on the Pride in Port day. On nearby Weber fields, thousands of school kids enjoyed a field day lead by PYA. The police, clergy and local businesses were also integral parts of the birth of Pride in Port. We also honored past graduates, through a Schreiber Hall of Fame, who were recognized as an athlete in his/her time. And, of course, the Vikings played a fiercely competitive game on the field (it was, remember, Homecoming).
The got it right when they wrote in an April 2013 article, “Port is the town with a homing signal.” It is truly here in our town that we find that our local culture provides a sense of identity for both our community and residents. This identity facilitates common understandings, traditions and values that are all central to plans of action to improve well-being.
While my years as chairperson of Pride in Port (and once a grand marshal) are behind me, it is with tremendous satisfaction that I see that others have picked up the torch over the past two decades and continued a tradition that is bound to make our younger generations remember what a special town they were privileged in which to grow up.
This former editor is truly proud of Port and equally as proud to call Port my home since birth.
For a list of all Hall of Fame inductees, click here.
To learn more about this year’s inductees, click here.
To learn more about the scholarship Pride in Port supports, click here.
To learn more about this year’s honorees, click here.
For more information about the Pride in Port Committee and sponsors, click here.