PUMC & Hobos to Celebrate Pitman’s Heritage (8/7/21)

Posted by on Jul 28, 2021 in EventAnnouncement, Mission: AroundTowns, Neighbors | 0 comments

Pitman is a small town with a tight-knit heritage.  It is a community woven together by churches and service groups.  Pitman has an all-volunteer fire department, service organizations such as the Kiwanis club, Scouts, VFW, American Legion.   Cultural threads such as theater groups, craft shows, and a variety of downtown restaurants tie us together.  The public schools bring us together with learning, sports, and theater; classmates from 40 years ago still share the same neighborhood.  The Broadway Theater of Pitman hosts a continuous series of live productions throughout the year which make our town an entertainment destination for many in South Jersey and beyond.  The summer is bookended by the Fourth of July parade and by the the Labor Day Carnival (which raises funds for one of our fire departments). 

There are many threads that bind the town together, but two of the biggest are the Hobo Band and our Camp Meeting Heritage.


Pitman Hobo Band…

The “Original Pitman Hobo Band” is a point of pride for all Pitmanites.  This volunteer collection of musicians has played their brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments around the globe.  Philadelphia has its String Bands, but Pitman has its Hobo Band.  The Hobo band wears old jeans and patches instead of fancy backpieces (mummer suits are expensive, but anyone can afford patches).  The band is composed of longtime residents, recent High School graduates, and others whose roots are in other communities.  The band performs concerts throughout the year and holds a summer youth band program each year.  Along with Woodbury’s Bonsal Blues band, they are a perennial mainstay in Pitman’s Fourth of July Parade. You’ll also see them in the annual Santa parade and hear them in Pitman’s Sunset Auditorium whenever it’s warm enough for an audience to gather outdoors.


Rev. Pitman’s Band of Believers…

Even before the Hobo Band came together, our town had its roots in the Methodist Camp Meeting which met in the “Pitman Grove” each summer.  Alcyon Lake and the railroad line made Pitman a resort destination.  People from Philadelphia and points beyond would take the train to Pitman during the summer to enjoy the lake and its boardwalk.  They would also enjoy the quiet of the Pitman Grove to worship God.  The Pitman Grove derived its name from the Rev. Charles Pitman.  Rev. Pitman never lived in the community which would bear his name, but he was a Methodist circuit preacher who was well-respected.  In fact, there is a Pitman United Methodist Church in Philadelphia!  This church also named itself after Rev. Pitman.

This wooded area in what is now the center of our town became a powerful location of preaching and music.  The slogan “Pitman and Power” came to serve as a reminder of how a community of worship can connect to God’s power and bring bring healing, strength, and vitality to our lives.  Eventually this summer resort began to be filled by those who wanted to stay all year.  The “Tabernacle” in the center of the Grove became surrounded by cottages, and the summer Camp Meeting location eventually spread into a town.

Eventually, the “Pitman Grove” became the “Borough of Pitman”, and the summer camp meeting spurred a new Methodist Episcopal Church for the full time residents.  Over the years, the “Pitman Grove Methodist Episcopal Church” underwent several denominational mergers, changed building locations, and eventually became what we now know as the Pitman United Methodist Church.

Passion for God in Pitman has always been high, and that passion found expression in many different faith traditions.  From the roots of the Camp Meeting, denominations other than Methodist began to take root.  Pitman is now home to about 12 different churches.  It likely has more churches per square mile than any other community!  But diversity is not division.  The churches in Pitman continue to work together to minister to our community.


Hobo Band and Pitman’s Camp Meeting Join Together!

The Pitman Hobo Band and the Pitman Camp Meeting are both celebrating milestone anniversaries this summer.  The Hobo Band is 75 years old, and the Pitman Camp Meeting is now 150 years old.  These two pillars of our community deserve celebration and thanksgiving. 

So the Hobos and the town are throwing a “party” on Saturday August 7, 2021.  During the day the Pitman Historical Museum will organize special exhibits in the museum and in the Grove Auditorium to celebrate our Camp Meeting heritage and to show how the town came into existence.  In the evening, the Hobo Band will give a concert in the Sunset Auditorium.  This concert will include a choir from the Pitman United Methodist Church to help celebrate our Camp Meeting heritage with music.

The Grove Auditorium and Historical Museum are located in the center of town.  Park downtown, and walk down First Avenue (actually a “sidewalk” that starts on East Ave).  Look for the “Pitman Grove” arch in Pitman Ave and Broadway.  Sunset Auditorium is located a few blocks south of the town’s center (off of Laurel Ave; the street that’s right before the railroad crossing).  Sunset Auditorium is on the corner of Lincoln and Laurel Aves.  Both locations are within easy walking distance of eachother. 


Hobo Band – Camp Meeting Anniversary Celebration

DATE:             Saturday August 7, 2021

EXHIBITS:   9:00 AM to Noon (Grove Auditorium and Historical Museum)

CONCERT:   7:30 PM (Sunset Auditorium)


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