Concerned with a rash of July 4 travel-related traffic accidents, Latrobe officials and residents decided 44 years ago to stage a community celebration that would keep families safe and closer to home.
The result is Westmoreland County's biggest annual holiday party, with this year's theme "A Tribue to Honor our Local Business and Industry." Festivities are so numerous that the celebration began June 16 with the crowning of Cristen Scifo, of Bradenville in Derry Township, as Miss 4th of July.
"It's a nice tradition for a small town," said Ashlee Lupchinsky, chair of the beauty pageant.
The three-week festival is run by all-volunteer, nonprofit Latrobe 4th of July Celebration Inc., which operates largely on donations.
"We don't ask for much, just community support," Carol Greenawalt said.
While she has been involved in the event from the start, she and her husband, Gary, assumed chairmanship 24 years ago.
Upcoming activities include:
• Friday: Annual 5-mile run and 2-mile walk that begins at 7 p.m. on Irving Avene and concludes with awards at Latrobe Memorial Stadium.
• Sunday: Crafts, food, and game booths open at 5 p.m. in Legion Keener Park, 1658 Catherine St.; doggie pageant at 5 p.m. at the park band shell; baking contest at 6 p.m.; 8:30 p.m. dance performance in the band shell.
• Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: Amusement rides, crafts, food, and game booths open at 5 p.m. in Legion Keener Park; bingo at 6 p.m. in the large pavilion; bands at 6 p.m. in the band shell;
• July 4: Parade begins at 10:30 a.m. on Irving Avenue; amusement rides, crafts, food, and game booths at 1 p.m. in Legion Keener Park; bands and contests all afternoon in the park, concluding with fireworks at 10 p.m. in the park area.
For a complete schedule and mandatory registration forms for some events, visit: www.latrobe4thofjuly.com.
Margaret Smykla, freelance writer; email@example.com.