EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) – Wednesday night at East Palestine City Park, people involved with a convoy of military vehicles traveling across the country settled in. They’re recreating a similar convoy that took place 100 years ago, which also stopped in East Palestine.
The convoy went through East Palestine around 4 p.m. They were three hours late because one of the vehicles was involved in an accident in Beaver County. Still, 400 people lined the route to greet them.
“Well worth the wait. We’d wait another couple hours if we had to, just to see this beautiful stuff,” said onlooker Tom Gargaro.
The convoy stopped at East Palestine City Park to spend the night. There were 45 vehicles, most World War II or later, though there was a staff car from World War I. They’re retracing history.
“We’re on a convoy celebrating the 100th anniversary of the very first convoy that went across the United States,” said Terry Shelswell, commander of the military convoy.
The U.S. Army’s convoy traveled across the country to thank people for winning World War I, to test the vehicles and to promote the need for good roads.
The convoy spent a Sunday in East Palestine in July 1919. Some of the officers were treated to dinner at Harvey Firestone’s Homestead.
“I wouldn’t trade it for a corvette,” said Gary Borman, of Beaver Township.
Borman met the convoy at the park with his Vietnam War era vehicle. He’s not making the trip across the country, saying he’s just too chicken.
“Tomorrow morning we’re going to jump in again and go to at least Salem,” he said.
Upon arriving, the people in the convoy were treated to dinner. East Palestine had provided more food than they could eat, thanks to organizers Sandy Wales and Barb Kliner.
“We’re a small town and whenever we have an event like this or we have things that are involved in the community, we pull together and we bring in and we donate and we participate,” Kliner said.
Dolly Steinbron, of Jesup, Iowa, was asked if they get treated like this wherever they go.
“It’s a whole range of stuff, but this is definitely at the top of the list of what we’ve been seeing so far,” she said.
Ten years ago, on the 90th anniversary, the convoy also stopped in East Palestine, which is why it came back.
“We asked ourselves what places do we want to stop at again and East Palestine was at the top of the list,” Shelswell said.
The people of the convoy will be treated to a breakfast Thursday morning at 7:30 p.m. at Homestead Kitchen and Cocktails at Firestone Farms, similar to how the officers were treated near the same spot 100 years ago by Harvey Firestone.
They’ll then parade through Columbiana around 9:30 a.m. before heading west.
They plan to arrive in San Francisco on Sept. 14.