Honor your hero

LOCK HAVEN – The faces of honored veterans and active duty soldiers, sailors, merchant marines and airmen and women have graced the streets of downtown Lock Haven and the levee for nearly six years now in a Hometown Hero streetlight banner program that has brought national attention to the city.

But it also has supported the many community and economic development initiatives of the nonprofit Downtown Lock Haven Inc. as it works to improve the central business district and the quality of life here.

Now its time for a fourth cycle of sponsored Hometown Hero banners, and Downtown Lock Haven and its many volunteers are counting on people, businesses and organizations to step forward to continue its all-important, community-building efforts.

And the banner sponsorship deadline is looming.

In the Hometown Heroes program, colorful red, white and blue banners are displayed from lamp posts for a period of two years. Each 18×36-inch banner features an individual photo of one, or several, veterans or active-duty members of the military.

The eye-catching banners distinguish Lock Haven as a city that cares. They also have motivated numerous other communities in the area and nationally to create their own Hometown Hero banner program.

The program has moved beyond Main Street, and spaces are available on the Riverwalk on top of the levee along the scenic West Branch of the Susquehanna River and in other spots, as well.

This year the program is expanding in new ways.

Previous banners may be hung again in this coming round even banners that were ordered and displayed in other communities.

Reprints are available of previous banners, too.

And, new banners are open to first-responders like firefighters and emergency medical technicians, retired, passed or active.

Families and friends who are proud of their veteran, patriot or emergency responder are encouraged to take the first step and reserve a spot for a banner.

“For the most part, volunteer firefighters and emergency responders arent the kind of people who seek recognition,” said Downtown Manager Dawn Snyder.

Snyder and the agencys board of directors are looking to their families and friends to see that these vital volunteers are honored.

It is easy to reserve a space for a banner in the new round. Choose a photo of the person, fill out the form available at the agencys office at 205 E. Main St., on the first floor of the Opera House Apartments building, and leave a down payment of $25 or more.

That’s all that must be done, and $25 and a payment plan are available to hold a spot for a banner, Snyder said.

Here are the options under the new program:

– New banners and those that are reprinted for another round of display are $200 apiece.

– Retired banners can be displayed for $100.

– Banners from previous rounds can be reprinted for your personal use for $100.

The deadline for new banners, reprints and to reserve a space for a retired banner is Tuesday, April 30.

Good display spaces are still available, Snyder said.

The form for reprints, as well as the form for new banners, can be found on the website at www.lockhaven.org and in the office, which has new hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and 8:30 to noon on Wednesdays.

One recent banner submission was sponsored by 16 people, Snyder noted. The banner will state it is “from family and friends.”

Clubs and other organizations may finance banners, too, either for a specific person or for anyone who needs a sponsor.

Banner sponsors do not need to be relatives. Those who are grateful for their local fire department, or for a certain first-responder who helped them in the past, are encouraged to sponsor a banner in their honor.

The person being honored does not have to reside in Clinton County, either. If someone is dear to your heart, consider how gratifying it would be to recognize his or her military service or emergency service with an individualized banner that will be seen by the public for two years, Snyder said.

If you do not have a photo you like, Downtown Lock Haven Inc. can help. Three photographers, two of them in the downtown, have volunteered to take photos for the Hometown Heroes program at no charge.

If your photo is cracked or has writing on it, dont give up. Again, Downtown Lock Haven Inc. can help. The staff has a computer program that will make your photo the best it can be for your banner.

Some families and friends are ordering banners for birthday gifts, and Downtown Inc. offers gift certificates that may be given to the honoree.

Others are including the person being honored in their planning. Still others are going to allow the banner to be a complete surprise.

Snyder expects many people will take advantage of the new aspects of the Hometown Heroes Program and will dust off their retired banners so they can be displayed in the city again. The professionally-made banners have held up extremely well in all weather conditions, and Snyder said she expects retired banners to be in fine shape for this new round.

Lamp post banners from Renovo, McElhattan and any other community program can be accommodated as well, she said.

This gives banner owners from outlying towns the chance to see their loved ones photo displayed in the seat of Clinton County, in what has been called the largest Hometown Hero banner program in the nation.

Remember, displaying a retired banner, from Lock Haven or from any community, will cost only $100 for the two-year round.

The new banners will be officially revealed in a ceremony scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 17, with a military speaker. The banners currently on display will be removed, cleaned and packaged before that date and will be available for pickup at or after the ceremony or if a sponsor, relative, friend or individual wishes, the banner can be cleaned and displayed again for $100, Snyder said.

“If Grandma has the retired banner of someone you love hanging in her living room, or if your sister or brother ended up with one you all sponsored together, you can now order one for yourself. An exact duplicate of any banner in the 2008, 2009 or 2011 programs can be made for only $100,” Snyder said. “And, if your children or grandchildren have admired your banner, reprints for them would make wonderful gifts.”

The Hometown Heroes Banner Program is the major fundraiser for the nonprofit Downtown Lock Haven Inc. which works to improve the shopping district of the city.

A Hometown Heroes dance is planned Saturday, April 20, from 8 to 11 p.m. at the Lock Haven Elks, with music by Snug. Those attending may bring their own snacks (no beverages). A cash bar will be available.

For more information about the Hometown Heroes program, call Downtown Lock Haven at 570-748-1576.