The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

June 15, 2013

Windber celebrates its heritage

Patrick Buchnowski

WINDBER — More than 300 mini bikes paraded through Windber on Saturday during the 2013 Miners’ Memorial Day Weekend.

Firetrucks, police cars, the Somerset County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse, cheerleaders and volunteers from civic organizations joined the mini bikes for the annual parade down Graham Avenue.

“It had a real homecoming, celebratory feel,” said Michael Sotosky, one of the event organizers.

Windber native Tom Geiger served as grand marshal.

He is credited with being the architect behind Windber’s Veterans Park. He also has been involved in numerous other projects throughout the borough.

Sotosky called Geiger a humble man who “dedicated his life to the betterment of Windber.”

Geiger kept himself in the spotlight for only a short time.

“I’d like to thank all the people who helped me do the things that were done in the community,” he said. “That’s all I have to say. Thank you and goodbye.”

The mini bikes were in town for the 14th annual Mini Bike Reunion hosted by Jeff Mihalko of Windber. Mini bike enthusiasts from as far as Canada, California and Florida spent the weekend camping on Mihalko’s 40-plus acre property off Route 160.

“Johnstown has its Thunder in the Valley and we have our Minis on the Hill,” Mihalko said. “It’s building bigger and bigger each year.”

About 90 percent of the mini bikes were vintage bikes dating from 1962 to 1974, he said.

The bikers ride in the parade every year, Mihalko said.

But for David Filtz and his fam­ily it was their inaugural ride.

“We came up and watched last year,” said Filtz, of Irwin, Westmoreland County. “This is the first time we rode.”

Nine family members including two grandsons joined the pageant.

The family will likely return, Filtz said.

“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “We’ll be back again.”

The Windber celebration continues today. Admission is free.

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