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Roots of Faith helping promote Sharpsburg businesses

| Monday, June 19, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Ava Hawes, 4, and her brother, Stephan, 7, feed this horse named Linda, on June 10, at Open Streets Sharpsburg.
Christine Manganas | For the Tribune-Review
Ava Hawes, 4, and her brother, Stephan, 7, feed this horse named Linda, on June 10, at Open Streets Sharpsburg.
Ruth Ann McGarry welcomes visitors under her tent to cool off from the hot temperatures on June 10.
Christine Manganas | For the Tribune-Review
Ruth Ann McGarry welcomes visitors under her tent to cool off from the hot temperatures on June 10.

Sharpsburg residents may soon see nearly 1,000 rocks from Lake Erie hidden around their one square-mile town.

Kathleen Lapinski, director of the Roots of Faith organization located on Sharpsburg's Main Street, drives to Lake Erie monthly to bring back hundreds of rocks to her hometown. And the purpose, she said, is to promote the small town's local businesses.

“There will soon be one rock painted for every business in Sharpsburg,” Lapinski said.

The thousands of people that flooded the streets June 10 for Sharpsburg's second annual Open Streets celebration painted hundreds of these rocks as part of the Pittsburgh Rocks movement. In an attempt to promote local businesses, the rocks will be hidden around the community and those who find them may be rewarded.

From 6th Street to Station Street on Sharpsburg's Main Street, food stands, booths, dancing and more consumed each block as live music filled the background to celebrate the town's 175th anniversary.

More than 90 vendors from Sharpsburg and surrounding neighborhoods packed the streets, offering free activities, games and for Ruth Ann McGarry, free plants.

McGarry is garden coordinator for the Sharpsburg Community Garden that sprouted behind the library three years ago thanks to a grant from Grow Pittsburgh.

“A lot of people think that it is a private garden down there, but its not,” McGarry said.

Throughout the five-hour event, the group handed out hundreds of free strawberry, tomato, Brussels sprout and pumpkin plants.

“This is such a great event,” McGarry said. “I just love the camaraderie in this town.”

The event was intended by the borough to not only entertain its residents but also bring in people from different communities to learn a little bit more about Sharpsburg.

For New Castle resident Melany Silvis and her three children, that's just what it did. Her father has lived in Sharpsburg for 15 years, but Open Streets has given her a better sense for what the town is about.

“The food is great and it brings out a lot of businesses you may not have known about,” she said.

One of those emerging businesses is Art in Motion Pittsburgh, which used the event to showcase its studio's offerings. The international and classical dance company moved to Sharpsburg from Bloomfield last year, offering classes to both children and adults. For Open Streets, the instructors brought the studio outdoors, welcoming people onstage to Samba and belly dance in an attempt to attract interest from Sharpsburg residents.

“We love our Sharpsburg studio and the vibe of this community,” Jeannine Stanko, instructor, said.

And to emphasize the town's anniversary, political luminaries such as Sen. Pat Toomey, Sen. Bob Casey and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald joined the crowd in a presentation honoring Sharpsburg.

Christine Manganas is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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