BERWICK — Berwick welcomed home Olympic luger Jayson Terdiman Saturday with a parade and rally that showcased the community’s Olympic spirit.
The parade proceeded from West Front Street, down Route 11 and up Fowler Avenue to Berwick High School.
Streets were lined with residents clad in red, white and blue with flags in hand. Chants of “USA,USA” could be heard throughout the route. After the parade, participants gathered at the Berwick High School gym where area officials lauded Terdiman for his effort and commitment to both his sport and his community.
“Berwick is historically known for football,” said Mayor Tim Burke. “But today our hometown sport is luge!”
Terdiman competed in the two-man luge competition in Sochi, Russia, with his teammate Christian Niccum. They finished 11th in men’s doubles and sixth in the relay.
Burke proclaimed the day “Jayson Terdiman Day” and gave Terdiman a key to the borough. He said the honors reflected the area’s determination to support members of the community who pursued a dream.
Terdiman’s journey to the Olympics might not have happened if it was not for his mother suggesting he participate in a “luge on wheels” when he was 12.
“I didn’t even know what luge was,” the 25-year-old said. “I said, ‘Mom, we’re from Berwick.’ ”
But he did participate, eventually travelling to Lake Placid to experience the thrill of the luge on ice.
“It’s been a wonderful ride and I didn’t take it by myself,” he said, crediting his parents and members of the community for making his Olympic experience possible. “And the ride’s not over.”
Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, told attendees the most important aspect of any victory was the opportunity to come home and share it with those you love. Barletta said his speech lauding Terdiman’s Olympic experience would be read into the Congressional Record.
“It was said that you were having a super cool time in Sochi,” said state Sen. John Gordner, R-Berwick. “Well, we were having a super cool time watching you.”
Gordner presented Terdiman with a citation from his district, saying it reflected not only on Terdiman’s two weeks spent participating in the Olympics, but years of practice that made that participation possible.
“Twelve million residents of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania salute you,” he said.
Columbia county commissioner Chris Young lauded Terdiman’s commitment and focus, in addition to his talent, in turning his dream into a reality.
Terdiman was even presented with the “Sweetest Athlete Award,” an oversized chocolate bar from the Hershey’s.
Amy Shortlidge, program manager of the Columbia-Montour Chamber of Commerce, emphasized the spirit of community prevalent in the Berwick Area.
“We are truly a family here” she said. “Today Jayson had hundreds of moms and dads, hundreds of brothers and sisters celebrating with him.”
Terdiman took time to answer questions from the audience and to sign autographs.
When asked if he is anticipating participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics, he said he would “give it his best shot,” but also credited other athletes vying for the 2018 team with great talent.