Rain Day - Waynesburg's Claim to Fame
July 29th may be just another day to the rest of the world, but to the residents of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, it has a special significance that is passed along from generation to generation.
It all started during the late 1800's at a drugstore located on High Street (the main street in town). An unknown local farmer remarked to William Allison, the pharmacist, that it always seems to rain on July 29th. This comment inspired Allison to keep an annual record of the rainfall on that day. William's brother, Albert, continued recording this mystical event; then, sometime during the 1920's, the record keeping was taken over by the late Bryon Daily.
Rain Day would have remained a local phenomenon if it hadn't been for the efforts of the late Waynesburg newsman John O'Hara. He began sending Rain Day stories to other newspapers in the 1930's. Today, newspapers, TV and radio stations from around the world flood the town of Waynesburg with calls every July 29th to learn if it has indeed rained.
For many years, the only observances of Rain Day were the annual hat bet between Bryon Daily's son, John and a national or regional celebrity and a brief ceremony on the Courthouse steps. In 1979, the Waynesburg Borough Special Events Commission was created to hold a special celebration on July 29th each year. That same year, the Waynesburg Area Chamber of Commerce held the first annual Miss Rain Day Pageant. In 2003, the Chamber of Commerce created a new non-profit entity, Rain Day Scholarship, Inc. with the sole purpose to plan and execute the pageant. Each year, one talented local teenage girl wins the coveted crown, hundreds of dollars in scholarship savings bonds and the chance to 'reign' over the day's festivities.
Among the activities sponsored by the Special Events Commission on July 29th is a street fair in the heart of town, live entertainment on the courthouse steps, arts and crafts booths, hometown food booths, children's games and assorted other diversions - including an umbrella decorating contest. Best of all, the admission is free! The festivities are silenced each year to pay a moment's tribute to the men of Company K, 2nd Battalion, 110th Infantry - a battalion from Waynesburg that lost men in France during World War I on Rain Day, 1918. Nearly half of the 250 Greene County men were either killed or wounded on that day. As John O'Hara once wrote, "On that Rain Day in 1918, it rained bullets on the men of Company K".
July 29th, Rain Day in Waynesburg, is the only holiday anywhere in the world that is not a success unless it rains! It is just another day to the rest of the world, but to the people of Waynesburg, it is special festivities and memories on Main Street.