Monday, December 1, 2008
Couples to renew vows on Donora-Webster Bridge
Two couples will renew their wedding vows on the Donora-Webster Bridge Saturday during ceremonies to mark the span’s 100th birthday.
Ron and Kathie Dickie Chadwick of Donora and Thomas and Carol Giuffrida Stoffel of Monongahela will exchange their vows after the bridge party begins at 3 p.m.
“Oh, I think it’s going to be nice,” said Carol Stoffel, a native of Donora.
Marriages are nothing new to the gray, steel camel-back span that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
John Witherspoon, a mine boss for Pittsburgh Coal Co., and Harriet Binley, both of Webster, were married on the bridge when it opened Dec. 5, 1908. An overflow crowd turned out that day to celebrate the first toll-free bridge across the Monongahela River.
A double wedding was performed when the bridge reopened Dec. 4, 1986, after it had been closed for repairs. That day, Thomas Giuffrida and Janine Conroy were married along with Marvin Sechrist and Audra Sadler.
“It goes back to the opening and it’s just a tradition that has been carried on since that time,” said Charles Stacey of Donora, a retired Ringgold School District superintendent.
“I think it’s a good idea, calls attention to this important artifact we have linking this town with Webster,” said Stacey, who will serve as master of ceremonies for the bridge rededication.
The Chadwicks were married Nov. 18, 1967, in Emanuel Baptist Church in Donora, and are the parents of two sons. The Stoffels were married Dec. 3, 1960, at the Eighth Street Presbyterian Church in Donora, and went on to have three sons.
“I give Donora a lot of credit,” Carol Stoffel said. “Of all the little towns, they work the hardest to keep themselves going.”
The Stoffels and Chadwicks will arrive on the bridge on a horse-drawn wagon. Donora Mayor John Lignelli will perform the ceremony.
The event also will include an appearance by Santa Claus, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and performances by Harry Funk, Rhyme & Reason and Donora.
The bridge will be closed to traffic from 2 to 7 p.m., with a detour to the Donora-Monessen Bridge.