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Latrobe Festival and fireworks to celebrate Steelers' scrimmage

| Tuesday, July 17, 2012, 10:37 a.m.
Tribune-Review
Chris Ecton, Sports Turf Manager for the Pittsburgh Steelers, assesses the condition of the practice fields at Saint Vincent College near Latrobe in preparation for training camp. (Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review)

Latrobe plans to celebrate the Steelers' scrimmage at Latrobe's Memorial Stadium on Aug. 3 with a communitywide festival billed as a free, fan-friendly experience to celebrate the franchise's Super Bowl victories.

“This is a really big deal. With the Rooneys providing the draw — America's best football franchise — plus fireworks at the end of the night. All we need to do is roll out the red carpet and have an all-day Steeler Party to showcase one of America's best small towns,” city Manager Alex Graziani said.

St. Vincent College officials will discuss their plans for Steelers training camp during a news conference Tuesday at the Unity campus.

Players will arrive July 25. The first practice open to the public will be July 27, the last on Aug. 17.

Before the game on Aug. 3, the gates to the stadium at Legion Keener Park will open at 5 p.m., with the country-western band Saddle Up performing from 5 to 6:15 p.m.

The Steelers are expected to arrive at the stadium between 6:30 and 6:45, and sign autographs before the scrimmage begins at 7, said Mark Mears, Greater Latrobe School District athletic director.

After a two-hour practice, fans will be treated to fireworks by Zambelli Fireworks Internationale of New Castle, Mears said.

Members of the Steeler Nation, who can be seen at all the games away from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, will travel to Latrobe as well.

“There are so many people from other states who are coming in. We have mailed tickets to people in New York, Ohio and South Carolina. We had people come from the state of California last year,” Mears said.

With such an attraction drawing out-of-town visitors, officials with the city, the Greater Latrobe School District and the Steelers decided to entertain the fans with Latrobe Steeler Fest, which will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. along Memorial Drive near the stadium.

The Steeler faithful will have the opportunity to stroll down memory lane in the “Great Hall,” the traveling Hall of Fame trailer that features the team's six Super Bowl trophies — more than any other NFL franchise.

Much of the Steeler Experience that will be at training camp at nearby St. Vincent will be transported to the Latrobe Steeler Fest, giving fans the opportunity to show how well they throw and kick a football and run.

Fans will be able to try scaling a 24-foot Venture Outdoor Climbing Wall.

The fans coming to the festival will be able to buy official team merchandise before the scrimmage.

Food and drinks will be available from vendors outside the stadium.

“I envision a day, like the one I just witnessed for the Fourth of July,” when families come back to visit family and friends, Graziani said.

The Steeler Fest is being promoted as an opportunity for merchants to hold special promotions and sidewalk sales.

The city is encouraging residents, particularly those living near Legion Keener Park, to hold yard sales.

“Imagine the Steelers gear, not to mention all the Rolling Rock memorabilia, people have in their attics!” Graziani said.

The school district, which operates Memorial Stadium, has been busy preparing the field to the Steelers specifications, said Kevin Yandrick, a school district maintenance employee at the stadium.

Crews have fertilized and watered the field, rolled it to keep it level and cut the grass to 1 34 inches, Yandrick said.

A representative from the Steelers' ground crew at Heinz Field has checked the condition of Latrobe's field to make sure it meets National Football League standards, he said.

Ticket sales for the scrimmage will begin at noon to reduce the possibility of long lines when the gates open at 5 p.m.

Tickets will cost $5 for adults and $2 for senior citizens older than 65 and students younger than 18.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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