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Elizabeth prepares for annual Riverfest

| Thursday, July 24, 2014, 4:06 a.m.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Trib Total Media
Elizabeth public works director John Grossi, in the fluorescent green T-shirt, works with fellow volunteer firefighter Chuck Smith on refreshing the white painted lines on Second Avenue, where the annual Elizabeth Riverfest parade will be held Saturday at 5 p.m.

The combination of preparations for Elizabeth's annual Riverfest and a midday coal train added to the usual traffic tieups on Wednesday in downtown Elizabeth.

A borough police car blocked off Second Avenue where volunteer firefighters were freshening up the white painted lines.

“This is the parade route,” borough councilman and Elizabeth Volunteer Fire Department Chief Chad Rager said. Approximately 50-60 units are expected to march down Second toward the fire station on Saturday beginning at 5 p.m.

Some motorists tried heading down Plum Street instead.

“Be careful with the white paint or you'll track it everywhere,” borough public works director John Grossi told a woman who needed a three-point turnaround between where Grossi and fellow volunteer Chuck Smith were applying paint rollers.

The work is part of what firefighters are doing to prepare for a tradition that kicks off Friday afternoon, primarily in Elizabeth Riverfront Park.

However, Rager said, “we put all of our kids' stuff up here,” across the railroad tracks from the park.

What's available ranges from face painting to bungee jumping and from inflatables to a petting zoo provided by Petscapes and pony rides provided by new animal control officer Robin Gaydos-Behanna.

Riverfest is the fire department's major fundraiser, with support from various businesses and companies in and around the borough.

“We put about $18,000 in it,” Rager said. “We probably make $5,000 to $9,000.”

The arrangements for Riverfest prompted Elizabeth council to amend a policy that otherwise exists for weekend events during summer months.

Usually outside serving of alcoholic beverages is allowed during Plum Street events on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

During Riverfest, however, with events for the kids in the Plum Street area, outdoor liquor sales are limited to a barge along the Monongahela River.

Liability is a factor.

“We pay for a million-dollar insurance rider for the whole event,” Rager said.

At the park, stand-up paddleboats will be available, with demonstrations and lessons on Friday from 3-6 p.m. and racing on Saturday with registration at 10 a.m. and action starting at 2 p.m.

“It is like canoeing,” Rager said, “but they're standing up. There will be a two-mile loop on the river and first, second and third prizes awarded.”

Disc jockeys will spin music on Friday from 5-8 p.m. and on Saturday from 1-5 p.m.

The rest of Friday's schedule includes a yoga demonstration on a standup paddleboat at 6:30 p.m., a parade of standup paddleboats at 8:15 and fireworks at 10.

On land The Elliotts will perform from 8 until midnight.

On Saturday Clairton police will provide a K-9 demonstration at 1 p.m. and Todd Jones will perform from 8 until midnight.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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