Waynesburg mayor makes Rain Day Hat Bet

July 18, 2014
Actress Patricia Heaton has accepted Waynesburg's Rain Day hat bet challenge.

WAYNESBURG – Patricia Heaton, known for her role as Debra Barone on the CBS television series “Everybody Loves Raymond,” will attempt to defy the odds by waging a bet that it won’t rain on Waynesburg’s most famous holiday, Rain Day.

Heaton agreed to make the “hat bet” with Waynesburg Mayor Duncan Berryman, continuing a Rain Day tradition in which the mayor and a local or national celebrity wager hats over whether any rain will fall in the borough July 29.

Berryman holds the advantage. In all but 24 of the last 137 years, Rain Day has lived up to its name. The last rainless year was 2012, when then Mayor Blair Zimmerman lost his hat to Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel. Berryman, however, is confident it will rain this year. “I’m batting 100 percent,” he said. “I’m one for one and that record is sure to improve.”

Last year, he won the bet against Waynesburg’s own Coleman Scott, an Olympic bronze medalist in freestyle wrestling.

This year, he’s taking on a national celebrity.

Numerous celebrities have made the bet in the past, and lost their hats. They included Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Jay Leno, the Dixie Chicks, Harry Anderson, Will Ferrell and real estate mogul Donald Trump.

To attract notable figures to participate in the wager, the mayor normally relies on Greene County residents who have ties to the rich and famous. This year was no exception.

Berryman said he received assistance in placing the bet from his friend Sam McCollum, who remains in touch with another Waynesburg native who has made it big in Hollywood, actress Sarah Rush.

Rush, who lost a hat in the 2001 Rain Day bet, is a friend of Heaton. Heaton was the producer for the 2005 documentary, “The Bituminous Coal Queens of Pennsylvania,” which is about the pageant that is part of the Pennsylvania Bituminous Coal Show in Carmichaels.

The documentary was directed by Heaton’s husband, David Hunt, and features Rush, herself a former coal queen.

Rush contacted Heaton about possibly making the annual Rain Day hat bet, Berryman said. “She was happy to do it.”

Heaton, a theater and television actress, is best known for her roles as Debra Barone on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” for which she won two Primetime Emmy Awards, and as Frances “Frankie” Heck on the current ABC television series “The Middle.”

A native of Bay Village, Ohio, Heaton began her acting career on Broadway in the musical “Don’t Get God Started” in 1987, after which she helped form Stage Three, an Off-Broadway acting company.

She was discovered by casting directors in Los Angeles while performing in the company’s production of ”The Johnstown Vindicator.” Heaton was subsequently cast as the producer/daughter in the television series ”Room for Two” in 1992.

She also had major roles in the series “Someone Like Me” in 1994, “Women of the House” in 1995 and “thirtysomething” in 1987. She also starred in the television movie “Miracle in the Woods” in 1997.

After performing in television series and movies, she landed the role of Debra Barone, wife and mother, on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” which ran from 1996 to 2005. She co-starred in the series with comedian Ray Romano in the comedy about a young family that lives next door to its in-laws.

After “Everybody Loves Raymond,” Heaton starred opposite Kelsey Grammer in the FOX comedy series “Back To You.” Since September 2009, she has starred in the ABC comedy “The Middle.”

Heaton has also appeared in films, including “Beethoven” in 1992, “The New Age” in 1994 and “Space Jam” in 1996.

She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on May 22, 2012.

Berryman said he’s not sure what kind of hat he will win from Heaton. “But whatever she happens to send we’ll be proud to put on display,” he said.

Bob Niedbala worked as a general assignment reporter for the newspaper for 27 years in the Greene County bureau. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh.

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