Charleroi to chase away winter with holiday

January 28, 2014
Dressed in silly hats to promote an upcoming Northern Hemisphere Hoodie-Hoo Day to chase away the winter blues in Charleroi are, from left, borough Mayor John Mollenauer, local chamber Director Debra Keefer and borough Manager Donn Henderson. - Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

CHARLEROI – The local chamber of commerce in Charleroi found a quirky way to chase away the winter blues made worse for some by two polar vortex events this month.

Mon Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce will host a party Feb. 20 to celebrate what has come to be known as Northern Hemisphere Hoodie-Hoo Day as a way to help folks cheer up following a stressful winter.

“We have to at least try,” said Debra Keefer, the chamber’s executive director. “It’s silly.”

The holiday requires participants to gather for a countdown to noon, at which time they wave their hands above their heads and yell “hoodie-hoo” three times.

Keefer got the idea to host such an event last year while hearing a radio host discuss the holiday as she drove to a chamber board meeting. Her board took an immediate liking to the idea.

The holiday was invented 20 years ago by Thomas and Ruth Roy, who created and trademarked nearly 70 other offbeat holidays, including Eat What You Want Day. He is a former radio newsman in Lancaster, and with his wife, formed a company named Wellcat Holidays and Herbs. Their story also caught the attention of the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times.

The Roys, on their website, offer other advice for dealing with the winter blues, suggesting people do things like purchase seeds from catalogs, schedule a cruise to an exotic island or adopt an annoying habit and promise to break it before spring arrives.

Keefer expects more than 100 people will attend the event in Magic City Square at Fifth Street and McKean Avenue as several local corporations and businesses have already promised to show up.

Attendees are encouraged to wear colorful, funny clothing and bring noisemakers.

Employees of Salatino’s Riverhouse Cafe in Charleroi plan to climb atop a small building in the square “to be in charge of the official countdown,” Keefer said.

She said local merchants will participate by holding sales following a frigid winter when business slowed down considerably.

Keefer said she doesn’t know of any other community in the region hosting such a party, and that most of the celebrations seemed to have involved smaller groups and schoolchildren.

Silly trophies will be awarded in Charleroi for the best group and best hoodie-hooers, she said.

The chamber also will host a happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. at nearby Rego’s Restaurant.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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