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Latrobe banana split jingle contest hits final 10

| Tuesday, July 30, 2013, 8:52 p.m.

Out of 23 submissions extolling the virtues of Latrobe's most-famous ice cream dessert, 10 have been chosen as finalists in the Latrobe Art Center jingle contest. Now it's up to the public to choose a favorite.

Maria Graziano of the art center said judges chose the 10 songs that were “catchy,” to best be performed live at the Great American Banana Split Festival, Aug. 24-26. During the festival, the state will dedicate a historic marker recognizing Latrobe as the birthplace of the banana split, created by David Strickler in 1904.

Judges also considered the songs that best represented the history of the city and the banana split.

After finalists were announced July 22, voting began online at the center's website and in person at the center.

Patricipants cast 850 ballots in one day, Graziano said.

“I didn't think it was going to be that big, but I'm glad people got so excited about it,” she said.

“Ukulele” Joe Comm stopped into the Latrobe Art Center, 819 Ligonier St., to cast his ballot, which is allowed once a day in person and only a single time in the online poll.

“I'm a competitive person because I was the middle child growing up,” he said. “I definitely want to win.”

His submission, which features silent movie-style captions and photos, is the first original song Comm, a teacher at Mt. View Elementary School, has written on the ukulele after having parodied others for retirement celebrations.

“It's a fun contest, and the ukulele is a fun instrument to play,” he said of his simply titled “Banana Split Song.”

Greater Latrobe Community Choir has more traditional instrumentation in its song, which features piano and drums along with the 30 members of the chorus, made up entirely of senior citizens between their 60s and 80s.

Director Pat Darbous, who wrote “Splittin' in Latrobe,” said the group hopes the jingle comes away as the official winner.

“We're not real good with technology, but our grandchildren and our nieces and nephews are,” she said.

The choir filmed the video in the Valley Dairy Restaurant on Jefferson Street and dressed in yellow, pink, brown and white to respresent the banana split.

“Everybody had a little bit of a hand in it,” she said. “It's our opportunity to have fun and our opportunity to give back.”

Darbous said the contest, along with the entire festival, is a chance to celebrate the history of Latrobe and garner pride for the city.

“It has brought a level of excitement to our little city,” she said.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or