One of the oldest Lansdowne community organizations, today’s Union Athletic Association is focused on a single event: the celebration of our country’s birth, Independence Day. Members meet and work throughout the year with one goal in mind: to raise enough funds and rally enough volunteers to produce a fabulous parade and fireworks display that will thrill and amaze those who come to see it. No government funds are used in the event; it’s all done through the generosity of businesses, residents and event attendees. Below are some historical descriptions of the association in its early days.
Below are some historical descriptions of the association in its early days. Source: The Delaware County Firemen’s Association Souvenir Programme, June 5th and 6th, 1914
Since its organization, October 24, 1904, the Union Athletic Association has filled a conspicuous place in the sporting and civic life of Lansdowne. Each recurring Memorial Day and Fourth of July has been the occasion of patriotic public exercises, held under the auspices of the Association, in which the orators of the day have been from the ranks of the association’s membership, and the citizens of the Lansdowne have taken part with a high degree of enthusiasm.
The games and field sports on the grounds on Union Avenue between Stewart and McKinley Avenues have afforded the youth of the borough a splendid opportunity for the development of physical skill and fostered a love for manly sports, while the monthly sessions of the Association have been a feature in local social circles. Its membership includes a high standard and broad range in the religious, professional, public and business life of the community, while its good fellowship is of the most sincere kind.
The Association has grounds for baseball, football and beautifully arranged tennis courts. An essential feature of the organization is the Junior branch, composed of the sons and daughters of the members and such others as are elected by ballot. When a junior member reaches the age of twenty-one, he is eligible to become a Senior member on the payment of the entrance fee and an election of unanimous ballot.
Source: Origins of the Union Athletic Association And Lansdowne Fourth of July Observance From an address by Thomas B.R. Bryant As reported in the Delaware County Times June 10, 1954
Speaking on the 50th Anniversary of the Union Athletic Association at All-Sports Night in Lansdowne-Aldan High School, Thomas BR Bryant, chairman of the Anniversary Committee, said, “To participate in a Delaware County Track Meet, a Lansdowne Fourth of July or an All Sports Night, one pictures Union A.A. as a group of once-were or would-be athletes and not a prescription ordered by the doctor. Thus, it is not strange that the origin of the Union AA is as little known today as the illness of typhoid.
However, the Union AA might not be fifty years old this year but for our founder’s, Louis A. Warren’s convalescence from typhoid. He was directed to rest in the sunshine and recover his strength through exercise out of doors. Shortly a group of his friends joined him in the then field above McKinley Avenue at Wycombe and Union Avenues, where quoits and horseshoe pitching mixed in the banter to cheer Mr. Warren to full recovery. Soon there were family gatherings and “choose up” games of baseball which developed into regular contests between fathers and sons and teams of neighboring boroughs.
These experiences were so enjoyable that Samuel H. Dyer, William T. Pharoah and William A. Leonard met at the home of John C. Hines on the evening of October 24, 1904, for the purpose of giving permanence to them. These four gentlemen then organized the club and named it Union Athletic Association, thus taking the name of the avenue near which they performed their athletic feats. Since Louis A. Warren has been the inspiration of their gathering, he was elected president and is traditionally known as the club’s founder.
On May 30, 1905, the club built a covered grandstand to protect their ladies from the glaring sun or sudden rain. The club’s gavel was made from the wood of this stand. The first public event sponsored by the club was the celebration of July 4, 1905. The program shows a membership of 23 men with a junior membership of their sons. In these early days the club also sponsored the community Memorial Day observances, baseball, basketball and football teams, as well as tennis and quoit courts. By 1912, the baseball team developed in to the Interborough League.
On January 23, 1920 the club sponsored what was then the largest affair ever held in Lansdowne, namely a welcome home dinner to the 161 men who had served in World War I. This period also showed an added interest in youth, for there was a Big Brother Committee and a Boys’ Day .
This brief sketch shows that the Union AA, from 1904 to 1954 has been interested in the splendid benefits of competitive sports, a community 4th of July celebration and their contribution to Lansdowne youth, who have been our inspiration these 50 years.”