Student helps organize tree-lighting event at Scott Park
People hear carols in a department store before Thanksgiving and want to talk about the Christmas season starting earlier and earlier.
But they haven't seen the inside of Abigail Augustinyak-Romano's Scott Township home.
Covered in crafts, ornaments, hot chocolate tins, holiday cookies and marshmallows, the 17-year-old's abode for weeks has been ground zero for preparing the community's annual tree-lighting celebration, slated for 6:30 tonight at the Scott Park amphitheater.
“It has consumed everything,” Augustinyak-Romano said. “It's not necessarily a bad thing, but I feel less like I'm supplying a small tree-lighting celebration than supplying everything for an entire army.”
It's one way to earn a diploma.
The Chartiers Valley senior gained permission from the township in early September to organize this year's event for her graduation project. With the guidance of township employees Peggy Ballo and Kathy Gazda, she arranged almost every aspect of the celebration, from collecting donations and setting up entertainment to making sure Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive on time.
“Christmas and all around that time is my absolute favorite time of the year,” she said. “And I always go to the tree-lighting celebration, so I'm pretty familiar with what goes on.”
Familiar, too, with piecing together a good party.
Augustinyak-Romano earned her stripes as a planner by helping organize school dances and spaghetti dinners at her church. But this event — with 250 people expected, and maybe half of those children — provides a new challenge.
“There is a ton of pressure. It's been very, very stressful,” she said. “I just went to a couple day-care centers, and I'd sit in the classroom and see what the kids like. Most of them like coloring, so we're going to do some coloring in the crafts area.”
Treat bags, offering a good deal more than the standard peppermint candy cane, will be distributed, as well. For older attendees, carolers and refreshments will be on hand.
And in keeping with the season's spirit, people also are encouraged to bring a canned food item to donate to the Pittsburgh Food Bank.
It wasn't easy getting to this night. Spending at least three hours a day laboring to create a celebration her community could be proud of — not to mention keeping up with school work — Augustinyak-Romano ran into some speed bumps along the way.
“Some of the biggest hurdles were businesses telling me they'd donate things, and this is a solely donation event, so if they didn't follow through I'd have to find another route to take,” she said.
The ups and downs of this successful saga are certainly helping Augustinyak-Romano graduate in the spring. But the experience may continue to serve her in the years to come, as she leans toward studying social sciences in college with a potential career in public service ahead.
“One of the big things I learned was how to approach people in a way that's inviting and welcoming and dealing with the public,” she said.
Dan Stefano is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5816.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers’ Rooney instrumental in bringing American football to Ireland
- Penn State kicks off Franklin era
- Secret judicial ruling blocks release of sexually explicit emails
- Penn State notebook: NCAA rebuts report of eased PSU sanctions
- Steelers wrap lackluster preseason with loss to Panthers
- Allegheny County sues hotel over unpaid taxes
- Preseason valuable for Steelers’ offensive line
- Experimental Ebola drug heals all monkeys in study
- Thousand-pound alligator caught in Alabama sets record
- ‘Victory’ for ARDC; Armstrong locks to open in 2015
- Jeannette traffic stop leads to drug charges