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UPV Residents Rally against Mask, Vaccine Requirements
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Talk of mask mandates in school, calls to inoculate oneself against COVID-19 and claims of general governmental intrusion facilitated a rally over the weekend in Pennsburg. At noon on Sunday afternoon, under an overcast sky, residents of the Upper Perkiomen Valley and beyond gathered at the borough's busiest intersection to express their objections.

Protestors line up along Main Street in Pennsburg to express their opposition to "govern-

ment invading their homes."

            The event, described on Facebook as END THE TYRANNY, attracted approximately 40 adults, multiple school-aged children and even a few infants. According to Vicki Lightcap, numerous families attended to express their opposition to "government invading their homes."

            Multiple mothers and children held up signs opposing a mask mandate in school, even though the Upper Perkiomen School Board recently voted to start the upcoming school year with masks optional for students.

            Others objected to the consistent urging by the Biden administration, as well as state and county officials, to receive the novel coronavirus vaccination, even though no vaccine mandate exists.

            "If you are beyond fed up with these unconstitutional mandates or recommendations from our elected officials this rally is for you," according to a Facebook post promoted by Cristin Lightcap. "Mask mandates, forced vaccinations and being told you have no say over your body or your children's body. It all must stop now. There is power in numbers."

            Soon after convening near the intersection of routes 663 and 29, demonstrators shifted closer to the corner. Utilizing ropes wrapped around a traffic pole, they quickly installed a large sign that stretched from one sidewalk to another that faced Dunkin' Donuts. It read, "Your body, your child, your choice. No vaccines, no school? Not true."

            "Fed up with the fear. Free our faces," read one sign. Another claimed the COVID-19 virus was made in China. "Forced anything does not belong in a free country," read another.

"My body, my child, my choice. No mask mandates. No shot mandates." "I don't co-parent with the government."

            In front of the large sign at the southwest intersection, Raeann Hofkin – one of two school board members to attend the event – walked back and forth on the sidewalk holding a placard that read "Honk 4 Freedom." Several commuters driving through the intersection obliged. Some stopped their vehicles and stuck their fist out the window in solidarity.

            Speaking on behalf of the families, Vicki Lightcap said they were "totally done with the way" government "has invaded our homes and is telling us what to do" in terms of caring for the health of children. Rather than directly address multiple questions related to potential public health concerns, the former mayor of Pennsburg repeated her belief that all healthcare issues related to children should be the sole right of their parents.

            "The parents are in charge of their children," Lightcap said. "They are the ones who sit up all night with the kids when they are sick. I've never seen a superintendent or a teacher do that. It's up to us to decide."

            According to Vicki Lightcap, "a lot of parents" are prepared to pull their kids out of the school district if the board approves a mask mandate. The school board is prepared for that contingency, according to Member Keith McCarrick. He said Sunday at the rally that the board allocated "a couple million dollars" in the 2021-22 budget to pay for students to enroll in alternative programs.

            Sue Wolford, a Quakertown resident, held a sign imploring residents to stand against vaccine mandates. She said she has already been exposed to the novel coronavirus and does not fear, and expressed no concerns about, getting sick.

            "I'm a healthy person," Wolford said.

            The woman, who identified herself as a federal employee, decided not to get a shot after "praying to God and asking myself about it." Wolford described shots as dangerous.

            "I'm not taking any chances," she said, adding that she believes she would react more adversely to the vaccine than the virus.

            Wolford said she has no plans to seek advice from a medical doctor. Even if she gets sick, her plan is to stay home and rely on a regimen of supplements and Hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis as well as malaria.

            The COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel recommends against the use of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine and/or azithromycin for the treatment of COVID-19 in hospitalized and non-hospitalized patients, according to information posted on the National Institutes of Health's website.

            "People think I am crazy," said Wolford, who suggested that people do their own research and make their own health decisions related to the pandemic.

            A couple from Abington attending the rally expressed their support for the parents and their claims. Annette and Greg Baltz also said they have no plans to receive the COVID vaccination and have no concerns about getting sick from the virus.

            "Not in the slightest," Annette Baltz said standing with her husband on the Pottstown Avenue corner of the intersection.

            Greg Baltz, a real estate lawyer, blamed the multiple waves of the virus on those who have received a vaccine. He claimed the delta variant was less virulent than previous incarnations of the virus.

            Annette Baltz, who said she was opposed to the idea of providing vaccinations to students, described the data validating the effectiveness of wearing masks as inconclusive. The stay at home mom said she had no desire to seek medical guidance from a physician.

"I've not found out who is as informed on this subject as I am," Annette Baltz said.







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