Bruce Peterson has been a member of the Titusville Kiwanis Club for 36 years.
The club, which was started from members of the Franklin Kiwanis Club, started in 1979 with 20 members. Now, Peterson and the Kiwanis are the latest service club in Titusville to shut down. After reaching a high of 44 members in the 90s, Peterson said that over time many members retired or moved away. This year, when Peterson called members about membership renewals, only eight people responded. “You can’t have a club with 5 or 6 people involved,” Peterson said. He and the other members decided it was time to close down the club.
Moving back home to Titusville after college, Peterson knew he wanted to join a service club. Although there were many in town, the Kiwanis happened to be the first to ask him to join.
Since joining in 1984, Peterson has served as secretary, president and treasurer. Peterson, who took a leadership role within the first year of joining, has helped the club organize many charitable events including the Honor America Days, Annual Kids Day, Friends of Youth Outreach and many other events.
At their peak, the Kiwanis would host full stadiums of people on the Fourth of July, bringing drum lines and bugle corps to entertain crowds. Peterson’s favorite event, the Annual Kids Day, would draw 400-500 kids to play games and interact with helicopters and firetrucks. Peterson saw these interactions as the backbone of the Kiwanis. “With Kiwanis, the emphasis was always the kids,” he said. “They were what we were all about.”
Aside from their charitable projects, the Kiwanis were also famous for their fundraisers. The Kiwanis hosted their Chicken Barbeque dinners and sub sales that fed thousands of hungry people for decades. From 1989 to 2019, Peterson estimated that then Kiwanis made and delivered over 30,000 hoagies to feed employees at local businesses.
Although they may not be an official group, the members of the Kiwanis aren’t done helping the community. Peterson said that the remaining club members will continue to do their Drake Well road cleanups. The club normally rids the road of garbage three times a year with help from volunteers. While the club may have closed, Peterson said the legacy that the Kiwanis left on Titusville will have a lasting impact.
Dvorkin can be reached by email at Gdvorkin@titusvilleherald.com.