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Organizer ready for next week's Jeannette's Community Days festival

| Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Community Days and Jeannette's 125th anniversary celebration kicks off in one week.

The festival runs July 24-27 in the Magee Avenue lot and helping to organize the event once again is Cris Lowstuter.

She got started planning a community-wide event 29 years ago when she and a group of former Jaycees members began organizing Jeannette Community Day at Idlewild Park.

Lowstuter was joined in those early days by Bill and the late Sheila Swartz and their daughter, Teresa, Paula and Ed Schultz, Mike and Jenny Avolio, Robert Carter, Felix and Debbie Samulski, Cindy Hall and her daughters Charlotte and Danielle, Mark Acito, Cindy Fenton and Terri Ketter, among others.

“We had a wonderful organization here in Jeannette, a good group of people,” said Lowstuter. “We had the dance companies perform, a citizen of the year and we had a raffle that had really super prizes. People brought their own food and would spend the whole day at the park.”

During those years, the city held a separate Fourth of July festival in the Magee Avenue lot. Nearly a decade ago, the two committees decided to join forces and hold one big community event.

The date was changed to the end of July because it was easier to get vendors and the city fireworks don't have to compete with other displays.

“I enjoy doing. I enjoy people, I'm very social. The Idlewild picnic day we were able to keep the ticket price low enough to be affordable and that's the same with the Community Days. It's nothing to get in to the festival, it's free entertainment, free fireworks. There are lots of families who can't afford that for their families and Community Days does that for them.”

Every year, Lowstuter takes some time to stand on the overpass near Fourth Street to look down and see all the thousands of people who have gathered for the festival.

“That's what I do it for, bringing people together. I like the positiveness in the community. The city is a wonderful city to live in despite the negativity,” said Lowstuter. “This 125th anniversary is to bring people together. People came together to form this city socially and industrially. We still want to bring people together.

“Once you unite, you're strong. One hundred twenty-five years ago, it was strong enough to built it to its peak and it's gone down, but it will build up again.”

The 125th anniversary is a subcommittee under the Community Days committee, which has partnered with the Historical Society for this year. Bob Tanyer and Mayor Robert Carter are co-chairs for the joint effort.

This year's fireworks will include a special surprise, which Lowstuter isn't revealing. Once again the display will be performed by Schaeffer Pyrotechnics and the company is donating some fireworks this year in honor of the 125th anniversary.

Elliott Company is sponsoring the fireworks and has donated $10,000 to the event. Community Days is always run entirely on donations and fundraisers, it is not sponsored by the city or tax dollars.

“We're looking forward to having more people come through and we welcome all business owners to showcase their businesses,” she said. “We bring in 10,000 people in a three-day period so with a four-day period it will be more than that.

“In honor of the anniversary, all booths have been asked to offer items for $1.25 or $12.50, just to have a 1-2-5 in the price.”

Those participating in the car cruise Wednesday night will receive commemorative dash plaques.

“Over the years, I want to thank everyone who has come out to the committee and donated time,” said Lowstuter. “They all worked hard and put blood, sweat and tears in to make it happen. From the bottom of my heart, I thank them. It takes a special person to volunteer their time to make others happy.”

Details on the celebration including a schedule of events can be found throughout this week's Jeannette Spirit.

Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 724-838-5154.