NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP >> Sweet weather, sweet berries and sweet surroundings. It doesn’t get much better than that.

The grounds of the Historic Presbyterian Church on Sycamore Street bustled with the sights and sounds of Strawberry Festival on June 1 as young and old celebrated the luscious summer berry.

Throughout the day, visitors enjoyed bowls filled with luscious berries while socializing with neighbors under bright sunny skies.

Some stocked up on cheese imported from Lancaster County while others took part in a silent auction for an assortment of “bountiful baskets” chocked full of gifts donated by a generous Bucks County business community.

Stationed next to a keg of birch beer, Paul Salvatore was in his element pouring cups of the thirst-quenching drink. Next to him, members of the church were busy serving hot dogs with all the traditional toppings to hungry Festival visitors.

Meanwhile, youngsters had fun at a number of game stations set up on the lawn, including a fish pond, football toss and sailboat race.

Of course at the heart of it all was the strawberry, from chocolate covered to jams, breads, cookies and bowls filled with freshly sliced berries, smothered in heaps of whipped cream and cascading over oven baked pound and angel food cakes.

In preparation for the festival a team of about a dozen volunteers from the church hulled and sliced 15 flats of berries fresh from Shady Brook Farm.

Among those enjoying the delicious berries on Saturday were Thomas and Joseph Rimel of Newtown. Also stopping by for the sweet summer treat were Jose Gonzalez and his daughter, Zyanne, who were visiting from Northeast Philadelphia.

Also stopping by for a visit were State Rep. Perry Warren and his wife Liz and Grace and Vince Deon. Former Newtown Township Supervisor Gerry Couch and his wife were also there enjoying the sweet desserts. And so was former Newtown Borough Mayor Dennis O’Brien and Duane Buck, president of the church’s board of trustees.

The event was organized by Peggy White, Sharon DeKorte and Judy Kauffman with proceeds benefiting the upkeep and maintenance of the Historic Church.

During the hotter summer months, Sunday worship services are held at the historic church at 9 a.m. every Sunday in June, July and August followed by refreshments on the lawn at 10 a.m.

About the church

In 1769, during the pastorate of the church’s second installed pastor, the historic stone structure at 76 N. Sycamore Street was built. Later, in 1782, it was remodeled and in 1987 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In December of 1776, because it was one of the largest buildings in town, General Washington commandeered it and used it as a hospital, a jail and a P.O.W. “camp.” After the Battle of Trenton, several hundred Hessians were held there before they began their long march to Philadelphia where they would be exchanged for American soldiers.

The small building on the south side of the church is the Session House. It was built about 1798, used as a meeting place for the session, and is one of only two such buildings in the county still standing. Because most early session members were farmers and did not get to town except on Sunday, a quiet place was needed to conduct church business.

Behind the church is a cemetery that contains the graves of eight men who fought in the French and Indian Wars and 28 burial sites of church members who followed General Washington in the Revolutionary War. In the back, just in front of the wall, is the grave of a man who stood for the Union during the Civil War.

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