Concert Millennium Carillon the centerpiece of Heritage Days parade

Firefighters toss candy to the crowd along Spruce Street during the Philipsburg Heritage Days Parade on Saturday.
Firefighters toss candy to the crowd along Spruce Street during the Philipsburg Heritage Days Parade on Saturday.

Often, the ringing of bells can be heard every hour, on the hour, coming from a place like a church.

But for some of Saturday afternoon, bells could be heard throughout Philipsburg.

It’s thanks to a vendor at Philipsburg Heritage Days that the event was able to showcase a Concert Millennium Carillon — one of three in North America.

A carillon is an instrument that features bells. It’s mounted on a trailer and enclosed by glass. A small entrance in the middle of the unit is made for a person to enter and exit.

This year, Nate Myers, a local pianist and organist, was the player.

While it has characteristics of a piano, Myers said the difference is hitting paddles, instead of keys, that ring the bell to the note of a song.

The total weight for this carillon is 43,000 pounds and includes a 2,000-pound bell — the heaviest in the instrument.

And as it passed the judging area on Presqueisle Street, he played “Victory March,” the Notre Dame fight song as a joke against the instrument’s owner who attended Ohio State.

Heritage Days Chairman Jim Pollock said Brian Michaels, of Winburne, owns a company called New Vibrations Audio and Video, which works on and makes systems for bells and chimes.

For instance, he made the system for the clock at Old Main at Penn State and several others at Big 10 schools.

But one of the biggest attractions is a mobile Concert Millennium Carillon that Michaels helped create for instrument owners from Chime Master, who travel around North America.

On Friday and Saturday, it made a stop at in Philipsburg for Heritage Days before heading to Canada from the parade route.

“There’s only three of these in North America, and we’ve got one,” Pollock said. “It actually might be the only time in history that this will come through Philipsburg.”

It was one of the highlights of the parade Saturday afternoon that also featured about 170 organizations including local high school marching bands, appearances by community sports and clubs, fire apparatuses, and a first-ever veteran salute to kick off the afternoon parade.

“There’s so much that goes on with Heritage Days, but the parade is a big part of the homecoming,” Pollock said. “It’s a community celebration that is a time for local families to come home, and a time of the year that coincides with many other festivals.”

For 19 years, Heritage Days was held during the same week and weekend as Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in State College and People’s Choice Festival of Pennsylvania Arts and Crafts in Boalsburg, Pollock said.

The Philipsburg event attracts 18,000 to 20,000 people, Pollock said.

“That’s a number we’ve seen grow over the years,” he said.

This year, event coordinators were able to take in interns from DuBois Business College, who helped create a system to see where guests came from.

Pollock said the interns mingle with guests, and then use a “pushpin” system that locates peoples’ hometowns.

“We want to make it the best we can and attract people from everywhere, while still making it unique to Philipsburg,” Pollock said.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo