Celebrations here, there and everywhere

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If the Fourth of July is a celebratory blowout, this past weekend in the region could have well served as a prelude.

There were several opportunities in the region for people to get into the Independence Day groove with festivals that featured carnival attractions, fireworks, food and more.

Perhaps most prominently in Washington County was the launch Saturday of McSummerfest at Heritage Park in McDonald. Going on until this Saturday, the 21st annual event sponsored by McDonald Volunteer Fire Department has a nightly menu of entertainment to accompany a mix of rides, food and other attractions. It officially got under way this past Saturday with a parade at 5 p.m. and a performance by the country rock band Iron Skillet. Sunday was something of a breather for the festival – the rides were still and no entertainment was on tap, but a Community Day celebration kicked off a 9 a.m. with a 5K run and a classic car show, which found about 20 vintage vehicles parked in the lot outside McDonald’s Heritage Public Library. The festival is due to swing into gear again today at 6 p.m. Fireworks are set for Friday.

Speaking of fireworks, they were used to wrap up Peters Township’s Community Day celebration Saturday at Peterswood Park. Sponsored by the township and Peters Township Chamber of Commerce, the event combined vendors with an assortment of rides, raffles, entertainment and food. Following the heavy rainfall that brought some minor flooding to Washington on Friday, organizers lucked out with decent, if somewhat sticky, weather on Saturday.

“We all said a little prayer and here it is – skies are bright,” said Pat Dolanch, a member of the township’s Community Day committee, late Saturday afternoon. She explained that somewhere in the vicinity of 4,000 to 6,000 people were expected to venture to the park on Bebout Road during the festival.

The organizers of the community day celebration being put together by the Highland Ridge Community Development Corp. in Washington weren’t quite as lucky where the weather was concerned Sunday, as heavy rain and wind moved into the area right when their event was due to kick off at the park at Central and Forrest avenues. However, they moved it inside to the nearby LeMoyne Community Center, where sandwiches and fruit were served.

The celebration marked the end of the five-year, $500,000 grant that the Highland Ridge Community Development Corp. used to develop its Elm Street program, which is designed to help neighborhoods near downtown business districts with physical improvements and planning. Fred Fleet II, the president and CEO of the Highland Ridge Community Development Corp., said “the whole concept” of the Elm Street program had been changed under the administration of Gov. Tom Corbett, but he sees it as a “seed program,” and now his organization will be able to seek dollars from a range of other sources.

“We have a lot of sponsors who can help us,” Fleet explained. “This is a new adventure.”

In Houston, Central Assembly of God sponsored its ninth annual Freedom Festival at the Houston American Legion post Saturday, which included food, music and prizes. Community celebrations also happened Saturday in Muse and Cokeburg.

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