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Festival crew works behind the scenes to get Ligonier ready

| Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Eric Schmadel | Trib Total Media
Jake Boyd, left, and Todd Kimmick, both of Ligonier, work as part of the stage assembly crew in preparation for the Fort Ligonier Days parade on October 6, 2013 in Ligonier.
Eric Schmadel | Trib Total Media
Tom Stablein, (from left) Todd Kimmick and Bill Stablein put the finishing touches on the info booth on the diamond in preparation for the Fort Ligonier Days parade on October 6, 2013 in Ligonier.

Fort Ligonier Days has always been a part of Tyler Coleman's life. He remembers getting the day off from school as a young boy and participating in the events at the Kid's Korner.

By the time he was a teenager, the Ligonier Valley High School Class of 2007 alumnus was already helping — first as a student volunteer and then as a fire department volunteer.

“When I look back, I never intended to be a part of it. It kind of just happened,” he said.

For the past five years, Coleman has taken on the role of festival crew chairman.

Now, he is in charge of putting into motion the behind-the-scenes set-up process. Beginning early on the Sunday morning prior to Fort Ligonier Days, Coleman and a crew of about a dozen volunteers start by assembling the reviewing stage for the parade in front of Town Hall.

“When the festival week comes along, you just make yourself available and do whatever it takes to make the event a success,” Coleman said. “We all work together and do what needs to be done.”

As fort week progresses, so does the list of tasks to be completed. Road signs and parking informational signs go up by Thursday. On Saturday morning the crew is out early preparing for the arrival of parade participants. They rope off lots for the parade and set up the welcome tent. The crew gets the golf carts up and running because they know the morning will be filled with transporting people to various locations on the parade route.

Coleman said the most satisfying moment for his crew during the entire week actually happens at the end of the parade.

“It has been a longtime tradition to follow the last float down the street,” Coleman said. “The people recognize us for the endless hours we put into it.”

He said it is the time when they get recognition from the crowd for all of the work they do to make the event ready for the crowds.

So, when you see Coleman or one of the other crew members — Chayne Anderson, Anthony Beckman, Jake Bolby, Jake Boyd, Ben Faas, Graham Fitchko, Matt Graham, Tom Kokoska, Jason Palmer, Josh Robert, Nick Snyder — riding on the back streets of Ligonier in a golf cart this weekend, know that they are busy keeping the festival a fun place to be for visitors and natives alike.

“Ligonier is a unique place and Fort Days is one of a few events out there that is based around a town and a fort,” said Coleman. “We need to stand behind our town and continue to provide (this opportunity to promote) the history of our town.”

Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or