The celebration of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America by the Catholic of this city took place on October 12, 1892.
A number of private and business houses were decorated with flags and streamers.
St. Paul’s church, pastoral residence, school building and dispensary presented a handsome appearance. Across the center door of the church arranged with admirable taste, long, flowing streamers of red, white and blue. The entrance to the pastoral residence was literally covered with American flags, streamers and bunting and out of every window hung two flags. Spanish colors were also displayed.
St. Joseph’s church and pastoral residence were also decorated. Large flags were displayed in many designs and graceful folds.
At 9 a. m. a solemn high mass was sung in St. Peter’s Catholic Church. Rev. Father Cleary, pastor, was celebrant, assisted by Rev. Father Guido, of Baltimore, as deacon, and Rev. Father Hannigan sub-deacon. Immediately after mass solemn benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was celebrated. The children of the parochial school sang in chorus the responses.
At 1 p.m. the Sunday school children of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church formed at the junction of 8th and 9th Streets. They numbered about 200. The girls were dressed in white and the boys principally in black, all wearing red, white and blue sashes. The Shoemakersville band furnished music. Master Charles Carrol was chief marshal.
Every boy and girl carried an American flag. In front of the band marched St. Joseph’s military society, composed of 40 boys, 8 abreast.
A procession was made over the following, route, to St. Paul’s school building: Up 9th to Robinson, to 10th, to Marion, to 9th, to junction, to 8th, to Greenwich, to 9th, to St Paul’s school hall.
A novel and interesting feature in line was a boy seated in a handsome dog cart, driving a beautiful dun-colored spirited but gentle pony. The boy carried a handsome banner, inscribed: “St. Joseph’s Congregation – Columbus Day – 1492 – 1892.”
At 3 p. m. all the children of St. Paul’s parochial school, numbering over 2,000, assembled in front of the school building. They were handsomely attired in fancy suits, white dresses, red, white and blue sashes and each carrying an American flag.
They, together with St. Joseph’s Sunday school children, took part in the flag raising, for which a 43-foot pole was placed in the center of the building facing 9th street.
The full 3rd Brigade band, of Pottsville and the Shoemakersville band furnished music. It was a grand and imposing sight when the children opened the exercises with singing in chorus “Red, White and Blue.” After the flag was flung to the breeze they again sang “Guard the Flag.”
A procession was then formed, with William Albrecht as chief marshal, over the following route: Down 9th to Washington, to 11th, to Penn, to 8th, to Washington, to 6th, to Academy of Music, known today as the Rajah Theater.
At 3 p. m. the exercises at the Academy began, and the following program was observed: Overture (national airs), Third Brigade band; song, “Guard the flag,” children of St. Paul’s school; essay (English), “Columbus,” by Master Le Roy Wenger, of St. Joseph’s: song, (German); “Tambourine” drill, by girls of St. Joseph’s, dressed in costumes of Martha Washington, wearing red, white and blue sashes; chorus, “Hail Columbia,” German essay, “Columbus,” by Miss Annie Fink, of St. Paul’s school; chorus, “Ave Marie Stella:” declamation, (German); flag drill, by St. Paul’s; chorus, “Star Spangled Banner.”
A dialogue, composed of 15 children of St. Paul’s, with Columbus and Fernanda, captains of the soldiers, was well received. All the children knew their parts and were warmly encored.
The exercises closed with a grand tableau, representing the 13 original States.
Below: The monument to Christopher Columbus in Reading’s City Park was donated to the city by the Italian community in 1925. The statue is on a marble pedestal with four bronze bas relief tablets with scenes from Columbus’s life. On October 11, 1992, dedication ceremonies of the newly restored statue marked the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage.