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Sunny day sweeps the clouds away as McKeesport fair weathers delay

| Friday, June 21, 2013, 11:17 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Visiting their grandmother from Delaware, the Davis family reaches into a duck pond at the Don't Worry Child Care Center booth at McKeesport's Good Neighbor Day on Thursday.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Amy Santoriello, deacon of Faith Lutheran Church in White Oak, helps 12-month-old Araya Miller of McKeesport reach for a Little Hug during Thursday's Good Neighbor Day in McKeesport.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Families and area day care centers brought groups of children to take part in Good Neighbor Day along Fifth Avenue in McKeesport on Thursday.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Emily St. Clair, 2, of McKeesport finds shade with her Lions Club balloon under one of many Good Neighbor Day tents along Fifth Avenue on Thursday.

Although it was delayed a week because of the weather, McKeesport's Good Neighbor Day didn't miss a beat.

Fifth Avenue on Thursday was packed between Market and Locust streets with people visiting the many booths to enjoy food, crafts, games and information.

Good Neighbor Day had been scheduled for the Thursday before Father's Day, as per tradition, but was postponed because of the threat of severe storms.

“Our decision to change the date was a good one,” recreation director Jim Brown said. “It's been a beautiful day to have so many people come out and participate in this wonderful event.

“There's a lot of kids here this year, and that's what's important. We do this for them — the kids and the families.”

Melissa Davis of McKeesport brought a group of her grandchildren who are visiting from Delaware. As the kids reached into a wading pool filled with rubber ducks to win a prize, Davis said she's happy to have them with her.

“It's very nice to spend time with them,” she said. “This is my first time at Good Neighbor Day. When I heard about it, I ran down here to be a part of it. There's so much for the kids to do.”

Kids bounced between booths carrying prizes and balloons and keeping cool with juice and snow cones.

Siblings Saxson, 10, and Eddie McKissick, 12, said they were excited to see friends and teachers during the summer.

“There's a lot of kids here,” Saxson said. “Everybody's out in the street, and it's fun.”

Halee Washowich, a member of the McKeesport Lions Club, distributed balloons and sunglasses to eager children.

“They were so happy,” Washowich said. “They got the biggest smiles on their faces just to get a balloon and to have someone say ‘hi' to them. They all said, ‘thank you.' It was so sweet.”

Alyson Rodriquez brought her children — Alexis, 8, and Minor, 6 — to the festivities.

“It's good for all the kids in McKeesport to see all of the great things we have in our community,” she said.

Good Neighbor Day included a roster of local churches, service organizations, human service and health care agencies, and businesses that participate annually to give back to their community.

Scheduled participants included Allegheny County Health Department, Allegheny Family Network, Allegheny Intermediate Unit's Head Start program, Angora Gardens, Betty Jean McClirk, Brightside Academy, Calvary United Methodist Church, Carnegie Library of McKeesport, Community College of Allegheny County and CVV Furniture.

Department of Public Welfare, Don't Worry Childcare Center, Family Links, First Commonwealth Bank, First Step Recovery Homes, Frida Cleaners, K-Dogs, the Mayor's Select Committee on Crime and Violence, McKeesport Area School District, McKeesport Family Center, McKeesport First Steps Parenting Program, McKeesport Human Relations Commission, McKeesport Lions Club, McKeesport Little Tigers, McKeesport Past and Present, McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center, McKeesport Trail Commission and Mobile Chef Corp.

Mon Yough Community Services, Mon Yough Center for Substance Abuse, Noah's Ark Community Center, Pat Kmetz Crafts, Riverside Care Center, the Salvation Army, state Sen. James R. Brewster's office, Smilemaker Gift Baskets, Sonshine Community Ministries, Style with Pure Scents, Third Day Luxury Soaps 'n Garden Teas, Trib Total Media/The Daily News and Wings & Things.

“Good Neighbor Day is an opportunity for businesses, churches and organizations to showcase the services they offer in McKeesport and surrounding communities,” Mayor Michael Cherepko said. “It's nice to pull everyone together in a street fair setting. It's an opportunity to socialize and be neighborly.”

Brent Robertson of Noah's Ark Community Center said the organization has been happy to be a part of Good Neighbor Day for four years, offering fish sandwiches, fries and other foods.

“It's always successful,” Robertson said. “This is our community, and we love our community.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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