ADENA—After a year off and COVID-19 interfering with many functions, Adena’s Heritage Days is back, and it kicks off Friday, Aug. 13; the traditional Saturday parade and some pomp and circumstance are on the agenda. The 92-year-old Jeanne Donley of Adena has been crowned queen this year, with Dirk Harkins as the grand marshal. But Harkins will be conducting his master of ceremony responsibilities a little different than years past. He looks at it as an honor to be tabbed the grand marshal of Heritage Days and represent all first responders.

“I’m just fortunate to be the one to represent all the first responders,” he said. Harkins doesn’t want to sit and ride and wave to the crowd; he wants to be among the crowd, with all the veterans and first responders who will be in attendance. “There’s not going to be just one grandmaster of ceremonies,” Harkins said, wanting to make it for all the ones who put themselves on the line. “It’s their day,” he added. 

Jeanne Donley also sees her appointment as an honor but, in a way, might be called the reluctant queen. President of the Heritage Days committee Lynn McConnell said she had to do a little persuading to get Donley to fall in line. “First thing I asked: ‘Do I have to make a speech?'” Jeanne said, then laughed. Donley was born in 1929 to Beatrice and Morris Walker and attended Adena High School in 1947. “She helped take care of her mother until she could start work at the age of 21,” said Karen DaVia, one of Jeanne’s daughters.

Donley worked at Scio Pottery from 1950 to 1955, and after spending two summers in California, she met her husband Jerry on a blind date. They married after he was discharged from the Navy while serving in Korea. Jeanne has lived most of her life in Adena; she figures she’s spent about 85 years in her hometown. She moved in with Karen after Jerry died in 2009, but the house was built on the same land where Donley was born. Jeanne has three daughters, one grandson, three granddaughters, three great-grandsons, and two great-granddaughters. 

As for grand marshal Dirk Harkins, he’s a veteran and a member of Adena American Legion Post 525; he’s been closely involved with the needs of military veterans, especially combat veterans (he himself is one). Harkins signed up as the result of 9/11. After ending a day at work and seeing what had happened on September 11, he went home and told his wife at the time: “We’re going into the military.”

Friday’s Heritage Days festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. and stretch until 11 p.m. On Saturday, the parade will start at noon, followed by the presentation of flags and the national anthem. Events will last throughout the day ending with the 10 p.m. fireworks. Among the entertainment is a cornhole tournament on Saturday at 6 p.m. and a car show preceding. In addition, a DJ will be live, and a 50-50 raffle with door prizes is also scheduled.