First there were 40.
Now there are 2.
And to hear their story, you’d think they’d be exhausted.
But they’re still going.
Basil Telep and Jack Nicolio of Mayfield are the two remaining active original charter members of the Mayfield Lions Club, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Jack and Basil should be exhausted, because as soon as it was started, the Mayfield Lions Club began sponsoring projects to benefit the community, and that list of projects kept growing over the years. All of the projects required significant manpower, dedication and hours; without that devotion over the last 50 years, there would not be:
• American flags lining the streets of Mayfield for every holiday from Memorial Day to Veterans Day;
• clean, clear street name signs at every Mayfield street corner;
• Christmas decorations lighting up Mayfield during the holiday season;
• door-to-door broom sales to get more funding;
• garbage cans around Mayfield to prevent littered streets;
• fresh, cold water for runners jogging through Mayfield during the Steamtown Marathon;
• Halloween and Christmas parties for the children of Mayfield;
• a well-kept Memorial Park for the pleasure of all Mayfield residents.
It all started on May 12, 1961, when 40 Mayfield men gathered and signed a charter to establish the Mayfield Lions Club, mostly for the purpose of providing Christmas decorations for the town. The first event they organized was a fundraiser they called “Winter Festival.”
“It was like a community picnic,” Basil explains. “It was first held at the Polish hall, and later the Russian Orthodox hall. We had it to raise money so we could put Christmas decorations around town. Our first decorations were three hoola hoops strung with lights and garland at Memorial Park. Each year we added a few more.”
Jack remembers the hanging of the decorations along the streets.
“We built a carpenter’s scaffold on wheels,” he recalls, and some guys would get up top and the rest would push the scaffold down the street from one pole to the other as the guys on top hung the hoola-hoops. Later we used the fire company ladder trucks. We got up to about 36 stringers of lights.”
In 1982, the Lions build a ‘headquarters’ at Penn Ave. and Walnut St., but it quickly lost its use as a meeting place when it was needed to store Christmas decorations and Lions Club equipment. For many years, the Lions Club met at the American Legion Hall. Now they meet at local restaurants, usually the Ponderosa, Alexander’s or Mik & Nick’s.
Basil and Jack have both served as club officers. Basil has been president five times, and Jack has been treasurer ‘forever,’ except when he served one year as president.
Page 2 of 2 - Both are proud of their long-lasting commitment to their hometown.
“If it wasn’t for the Lion’s Club,” Jack states, “we wouldn’t have a lot of things town, like the flags on holidays or the street signs. I don’t know what Mayfield would be like without the Lions Club.”
Basil agrees. “The Mayfield Lions Club is the best organization I was every a member of,” he says. “I can’t think of what this town would do without us.”
There is no longer a “Winter Festival.” It was discontinued in 1993. Since then, the Lions have conducted a yearly envelope drive in May, requesting donations from residents and businesses to raise funds for the many projects that still continue to make the Mayfield community proud.