If you are coming to Waynesburg Tuesday, don’t forget to pack an umbrella.
Waynesburg will be celebrating Rain Day, so chances are good it will rain in town sometime during the day, no matter what the weather forecasters have predicted.
Rain Day rests on the premise it always rains in Waynesburg on July 29. According to records that have been maintained, that has is for 113 of the last 140 years.
Though some may think it’s unusual to hold a celebration based on the frequency of rain on a particular date, Rain Day has worked well for the borough, giving it its own unique holiday and bringing Waynesburg at least a little bit of national attention.
Rain Day had its start back in the 1870s, when William Allison, a clerk at the J.T. Rogers & Co. Drugstore, started keeping a record of the weather on July 29 after hearing a comment from a local farmer that it seemed to rain on that date every year. Allison began making friendly wagers with residents and traveling salesmen that it would rain July 29.
During the years that followed, the observance of Rain Day grew from a small group of people congregating at the drug store, talking about the weather and the likelihood of rain on July 29, to a community festival, complete with its own traditions. Word of Rain Day spread and was picked up by the national media. Even today, calls come in from faraway radio and television stations wanting to know whether it rained on Rain Day.
The tradition of the Rain Day bet also evolved into the wager for a hat, made with a local or national celebrity. Hat bets have been made with such luminaries as Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Muhammad Ali, Jay Leno and others. The mayor has traditionally made the bet and, this year, Mayor Duncan Berryman, has bet a hat with Patricia Heaton, who starred as Debra Barone on the CBS-TV series “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
By the end of Tuesday, we’ll know whether Berryman won another hat for the town, and whether Rain Day is again a success, which is measured by rain.
Any amount, from a drop to a downpour.