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Latrobe plans annual banana split celebration

| Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Now that the plaque recognizing Latrobe as the birthplace of the banana split has been firmly cemented outside the site of Strickler's Drug Store, local organizations are planning to contribute to an annual celebration of the dessert.

The Latrobe Community Revitalization Program has established a standing committee to feature the Great American Banana Split Festival as an annual celebration in the city, set for the same weekend next year, Aug. 22-24.

“We've gotten everyone's attention. People are still coming in and talking about it,” said committee member Gabi Nastuck, director of the Latrobe Art Center. “In time people will be marking (the festival) on their calendars.”

The committee, headed by the Rev. Wayne Sautter, is hoping to bring back successful events again next year, like the Yellow Tie Gala, Sock Hop and Car Show, in addition to making new ones, said Nick Felice, executive director of the revitalization program.

“Having more time to plan and lay things out and rethink will make it better,” he said.

Nastuck said she looks forward to working with Sautter.

“I think he's going to be an excellent leader, one that will keep everyone in line and focused,” she said.

The committee is comprised of representatives from each of the organizations that contributed to this year's inaugural event, including the Latrobe Rotary Club, the Latrobe Lions Club, the art center, St. Vincent College, the Latrobe Business & Professional Women's Club and the Hope Center.

Each organization will sponsor and organize a separate event, while the committee is charged with “infrastructure” of the festival, such as tents, permits and other planning aspects, Felice said.

The Latrobe Area Chamber of Commerce also intends to join in planning the festival, he said.

“We're happy to see them step up like that,” Felice said.

One consideration the committee will take up: more of those three-scoop treats.

Felice said visitors wanted more banana splits at the festival this year, so the committee may seek out more vendors to provide the namesake specialty.

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