Community Heroes Picnic

KATHRYN KLINE/THE EXPRESS YMCA summer campers watch while volunteers from the Lock Haven Fire Department take campers for a “ride” on the fire truck ladder.

LOCK HAVEN — The superheroes young children often look up to are movie characters with special powers — but the real-life heroes in our community, like first-responders and veterans, are the ones kids may not taught enough about.

The Lock Haven YMCA summer campers hosted a Community Heroes Picnic recently at the Lock Haven EMS building to honor those real-life heroes — including local firemen, policemen, EMS, and veterans.

“It’s our way to give back and say thank you,” said Lori Lohman, the Lock Haven YMCA’s school-age director.

These local heroes were invited to attend the picnic, with the vehicles that represent their service, to eat lunch, interact with the kids, and socialize with each other.

The YMCA’s summer camp theme was “Superhero Week” and this inspired Lohman to organize the picnic.

KATHRYN KLINE/THE EXPRESS Community “heroes” attend a picnic hosted by YMCA campers. From left are, in front: Brad Campbell of Lock Haven EMS; Lang Gillen of Lock Haven Fire Department; Scott Bartholomew, U.S. Army; Don Hills, U.S. Army veteran; Norman Wolfrom, Lock Haven Fire Chief; and in back: Eric Brungard of LHFD; and Robert Delaney of Lock Haven EMS.

“Superheroes are more than just fictional characters. We thought, ‘Who in our community is a hero?’ They don’t get praised for it enough,” she said

All the summer camp groups from the YMCA attended the picnic, helping serve guests, even getting the chance to check out a fire truck and take a “ride” on the ladder.

“This is a great way for the kids to learn about the equipment that (first-responders) take with them when they go to help people,” Lohman said.

Parents of the campers chipped in by bringing food and snacks for the picnic, and the children made cards and gift bags with candy inside to give to their heroes.

“It means a lot that they did this for us — words can’t even explain it. It’s so important for kids to come out and help,” said Don Hills of Mill Hall, a veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army and lifetime guard of honor, presenting the colors at many events in the area.

Lock Haven Fire Chief Norm Wolfrom said, “It feels great that people would take the time out of their day to honor us.”

He also wanted to make clear the importance of kids and young adults getting involved in protecting the community.

“We have a junior fireman program for ages 14 to 18. They go along to assist at the scene. Right now, we only have one young man. The interest has lowered because of technology and video games, I think,” he said.

Because of the decrease in youth involvement in the fire department, he said, it was great to see so many kids involved in organizing this picnic.

In addition to being honored for their service, the guests of honor found the event to be a great means of socializing together.

“It’s a great chance to meet and talk with other service people,” Wolfrom said

Among the many “heroes” in attendance were Lock Haven Police officers, members of the Lock Haven fire companies, EMS first-responders, and many veterans.

Plans for making this picnic an annual event are in the works — and each “hero” made it clear through laughter and engagement with each other and with the children, they would be more than pleased to attend again next year.