On Centre: Penns Valley | Dinner to celebrate 65th anniversary of Aaronsburg Story

One thing Ralph Musick knows is that he’s “going to die with a good memory,” he said.

Musick was 25 years old when the Aaronsburg Story was created on Oct. 23, 1949.

The lifelong Haines Township resident — now just three weeks away from his 90th birthday — said he’s never seen 30,000 people in the census-designated place, except for that day.

After all, it only has a population of about 613 people, according to the 2010 census. In 2000, there were 485 residents.

“It was terrific,” he said. “Little Aaronsburg had that many people in town. I’m from the area my whole life and never seen anything like it.”

On Thursday, to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Aaronsburg Story, the Penns Valley Area Historical Museum is hosting a public dinner at 6:30 p.m. at New Hope Lutheran Church in Spring Mills.

Volunteer Vonnie Henninger said about 100 people will be in attendance. Money raised will go toward the cost of the dinner and to the museum.

The Aaronsburg Story — as told by Henninger — is that on Oct. 23, 1949, a pageant was held to celebrate Aaronsburg’s history.

Aaron Levy was a Jewish settler who owned land in Haines Township, and founded Aaronsburg in 1786.

He donated land to the Protestants for a church, cemetery and school, and helped support them financially. He gave them a Communion set for the church made by a pewter worker from Philadelphia.

That same Communion set will be on display at Thursday’s dinner, Henninger said.

“This was just the kind of example of racial tolerance,” Henninger said.

To celebrate the area’s history 160 years later, a pageant was held to commemorate the centennial of the Salem Lutheran Church, which was founded three years after Aaronsburg was incorporated.

“There were some 30,000 people, but not just people from Centre County,” Henninger said. “It was one of the first civil rights movements in the country and there was a sign of a higher power.”

Henninger said it was cold, windy and snowy the day before and the day after the celebration, but that Sunday was sunny and in the mid-60s.

“It was like the clouds parted and the sun came out just for the celebration,” Henninger said.

Musick couldn’t attend the celebration in 1949 because of farm chores to finish with his wife, but he said he was part of the planning process.

“I had to milk cows during the event, but it took a whole community effort to set up,” Musick said. “There was a lot of help from local retired farmers and some other kids in the community. We built the stages beforehand and got other things ready.”

Every five years after that, residents would celebrate the area’s history, but that fell by the wayside in the 1950s, Henninger said.

“We’d like to celebrate it more, but we haven’t,” he said. “It just kind of fell apart and I’m guessing because of financial issues. Every so often we want to remember this. It’s a special story that should be remembered.”