2017 Grand Marshal
James Pontz, Grand Marshal

James C. Pontz has been named the 2017 Millersville Community Parade Grand Marshal. Pontz will be honored at the parade, a university/community event, on Saturday, October 14, during the University’s homecoming. The parade kicks-off at 9 a.m. and follows a two-mile route beginning on Herr Avenue, continuing onto Landis Avenue and ending on George Street.

The Grand Marshal is selected each year based on his or her significant contributions to the Millersville community. Pontz resides in Manor Township and is a 1963 graduate of Penn Manor High School. He was formerly the owner/operator of Pontz Landscape Service (PLS) from 1986-2008.  PLS designed many businesses and homeowners landscaping needs and in particular oversaw the construction of the Lancaster County Vietnam War Memorial, which is located in Greenwood Cemetery in Lancaster. This memorial honors all servicemen and women who served in Vietnam. Of the 79 servicemen from Lancaster County who died in Vietnam, eight were graduates of Penn Manor High School. Pontz is a Vietnam Veteran himself. Following his basic training in Georgia and advanced training in Alabama, he taught classes at Army Missile and Munitions School at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. He then served as an ammunition supply specialist with the First Forward Platoon, 15th S&S Battalion, First Air Cavalry Division in Vietnam in 1966-1967.

Of special note, during the October 14 Millersville Parade, there will be a special “Welcome Home Tribute” to area Vietnam Veterans who will be walking and riding in busses and trolleys in the first division of the line-up, which will also include Jim Pontz. Included will be a musical fanfare salute by the Westminster Municipal Band, handwritten cards by Penn Manor School District children thanking these veterans for their service, and presentation of US flags and roses.

Over the past 55 years, Pontz has had participated in a myriad of civic and community organizations including the West Lancaster Jacyees (past president), life member of the West Lancaster Fire Company (now Blue Rock Fire Rescue) for 54-years. While with the fire company he has served as secretary, vice president, president, chairman of the board of directors, assistant chief (5 years), fire chief (19 years). He is a life member and member of the Board of Directors at Blue Rock Fire Rescue and continues to serve on the recruitment and public education committees. He is a member of the Blue Rock Fire Rescue Support Group and serves as their publicity director. Blue Rock Regional Fire District covers 55 square miles of both Millersville Borough and Manor Township.

He has served as the entertainment chair and active member of the Millersville Community Parade Committee for the past twenty years! He is also a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Lancaster Post 1008 and has served on several panels that visited Lancaster County schools, where they educated local youth about the Vietnam War.  He is also a member of the Disabled American Veterans, Red Rose Chapter 80 and life member of the Lancaster County Firemen’s Association. He also assisted in the planning of the landscaping of the Millersville Veterans Memorial in the Freedom Memorial Park in the borough of Millersville.    Pontz enjoys gardening, fishing, trains and travelling.

Long-time Millersville Community Parade chair, Steven DiGuiseppe of Millersville University, noted that Jim is “the consummate volunteer, always willing to go 500% above and beyond the call of duty, both in his own personal life and livelihood, especially his extracurricular activities, including his long-time devotion to the local fire district and the Millersville Community Parade. He single- handedly coordinated hundreds of bands in the past 20 years that has made this parade one of the largest (both in participation and in attendance) in the state of Pennsylvania. He is a tireless volunteer, who is chock full of ideas and a special person who deserves this honor for his dedication, loyalty and long-time service to the community.”

The 21st annual Millersville Community Parade is shaping up to be the largest parade ever held in the borough, and perhaps in  Lancaster County, with over 2,800 anticipated participants, including 25 bands, 155 vehicles (antique cars, fire and emergency services), live animals, inflatable characters, civic, university and community floats and many more entries.   Over 6,000 spectators are expected to line the two-mile parade route. The parade committee raised over $50,000 in support from local businesses and community friends. Over $2,000 will be awarded in several categories of competition.

For more details see: www.parade.millersville.edu.

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