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Pinch parades on for annual reunion

Lawrence Pierce
People of all ages enjoyed the sights, and kids raced to pick up candy thrown during the parade at the 112th Pinch Reunion on Saturday.
Lawrence Pierce Forest Carper, of Big Chimney, polishes his 1949 Ford before the Pinch Reunion parade.
Lawrence Pierce Donald Bird, of Pinch, drives his 1954 tractor in the Pinch Reunion parade on Saturday.
Lawrence Pierce Retired Pinch Fire Chief Bill Allen has been going to the Pinch Reunion all his life. He has watched the event change as the town has grown.

PINCH, W.Va. -- The rain stopped just in time for the 112th Pinch Reunion Saturday morning. Adults and children lined Route 114, from Pinch Elementary to Reunion Road, waiting for familiar faces to parade down the street on horses, in vintage cars, on foot and in a 1954 tractor.

The Pinch Reunion is the longest running community reunion in the nation. Former Charleston mayor, Judge William Wertz founded the reunion in 1902. The event was started to enhance educational, religious and family standards in the community.

Chris Velteri grew up five miles down the road in Clendenin but attended the reunion as a boy. Today he shares the same experience with his daughter, Emma.

"It's tradition you know?" he said. "It's been here a long time and they're just now getting it back to where it used to be."

Velteri and his daughter were looking forward to throwing candy to their friends riding in the parade. Velteri said the community still values coming together.

"It's a small community and pretty much everybody knows everybody," he said. "Most of the people are hands on, face-to-face."

Traci Beasley helped organize the parade this year. Beasley was pleased with the turnout. About 30 organizations participated in the parade.

"I think everybody had a great time," she said. "I know the weather kept a lot of people out."

Heather Bowles and Jackie Harper came out to support their daughters' cheer group, West Virginia Cheer Academy.

"We're in the parade celebrating Pinch heritage," Bowles said. "It really brings the community together.

"I wasn't raised here myself but my husband and I chose to move to this area for the small community feel," she added.

Bill Allen served as Pinch's fire chief for 24 years and has attended his fair share of reunions and parades.

"As kids we looked forward all year long to Pinch Reunion," Allen said. "That was the resurrection day for Pinch you might say."

Back then the reunion featured a merry-go-round, swing sets and various games. The parade was added 20 years ago when Pinch added their fire department, Allen said.

"I used to be the paperboy here and I had 48 papers. Covered everyone in Pinch. Forty-eight papers wouldn't get one subdivision now," Allen said.

Allen now serves on the fire department's board and said that, like the town, the reunion itself has grown.

"It's hard to believe Pinch has grown this much," he said. "There's only two places -- Pinch and heaven." Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.cook@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.


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