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6th annual Village for Kids a success despite rain

| Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, 4:01 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Trib Total Media
State Sen. James R. Brewster, Village for Kids co-chairs Dexter Hairston and Alison Piccolino and McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko crown the International Village princess Ashley Kifer, 8, of Liberty and prince Brandon Walton, 7, of McKeesport.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Trib Total Media
Tiffanee Heywood leads enthusiastic youngsters in an afternoon Zumba class on the Lions Bandshell grounds in Renziehausen Park.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Trib Total Media
Making giant bubbles at the Faith Lutheran Church booth, from left, are Natalie Amantea, 9, of North Huntingdon Township; Ella Kristen, 3, of McKeesport; and Hannah Amantea, 6, of North Huntingdon Township.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Trib Total Media
White Oak brothers, from left, Corey Mesiarik, 6, Michael Mesiarik, 9, and Devan Kimble, 11, make their way through the Village for Kids with sweet treats and other prizes.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Trib Total Media
Laura Gazdich of WJS Psychological Assoicates helps 8-year-old Abbe Harlow of Baltimore, Md., and 7-year-old Sophia Minyon of McKeesport plant seeds in miniature flower pots.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Trib Total Media
Gracie Martin, 5, of White Oak shelters herself from the rain with a bright ladybug umbrella during the Village for Kids event in Renziehausen Park on Monday afternoon.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Trib Total Media
Volunteers J.T. Thieret and Patrick Fisher serve a hot dog to Aliyah McCoung, 9, of McKeesport.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Trib Total Media
Adrian Roma, 5, of Port Vue; Bailey Mellon, 6, of McKeesport; and Avah Mellon, 5, of Lincoln enjoy freeze pops during the Village for Kids on Monday.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Trib Total Media
McKeesport police officer Candace Tyler helps Nicole Vavra of McKeesport keep fingerprint records for her 15-month-old son Raeden Plutt.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Trib Total Media
At last year's Village for Kids, Sommer Rainey, 5, of McKeesport takes her pencil prizes from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank booth as other children, including Chloe Axon, 5, of Elizabeth Township, wait their turns to answer questions about food and nutrition.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Trib Total Media
Neamiah Reid, 6, of Duquesne shows off his prize at the Auberle SNAP program booth, operated by Stephanie Vozar and Darlene Salih.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Trib Total Media
Paige Gorscak, 8, of McKeesport; Sydney Gorscak, 6, of McKeesport; and Brooke Cain, 8, of White Oak applaud the prince and princess of International Village as they are crowned during the Village for Kids on Monday.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Trib Total Media
Chantel Wallace paints a glittery spider on the hand of 6-year-old Antoine Smith, joined by his grandmother Yvette Lindberg of Versailles.

McKeesport area children didn't let Monday afternoon showers put a damper on their Village for Kids experience, as they enjoyed food, games and dancing in the rain.

The Lions Bandshell grounds in Renziehausen Park was filled with happy kids hiding under hooded sweatshirts and umbrellas for the sixth annual Village for Kids event that precedes the three-day International Village food and heritage festival on the nearby Stephen Barry Field.

“All of the kids had fun, even though it was raining,” parent Marianne Coughenour of McKeesport said. Coughenour attended with her daughters Victoria, 4, and Evelyn, 2, who normally attend with their preschool program. “This is my first time here, and there's a lot for kids to do.”

Civic organizations and social service agencies from across the Mon Valley hosted food booths, games, crafts and health screenings for children of all ages.

“It's pretty cool,” 9-year-old Serena Dillard of McKeesport said. “There's a whole bunch of people here, and we appreciate everything they do.”

Village for Kids co-chairs Alison Piccolino and Dexter Hairston thanked the event's community partners for making it a continued success.

“This is an event that was scheduled to be a one-time thing for the 50th anniversary of International Village,” said state Sen. James R. Brewster, who continues to be a primary sponsor of the Village for Kids. “Here we are in our sixth year continuing a great tradition for the children of McKeesport and surrounding communities.”

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said the city is proud to host another great program that brings people in from neighboring municipalities.

“The kids' event has grown to be a tremendous asset to International Village,” Cherepko said. “It's a day to get our kids excited about the International Village tradition by dedicating a special event to them.”

Each year, the prince and princess of International Village are crowned during the kids event.

Ashley Kifer, 8, of Liberty was named princess, and Brandon Walton, 7, of McKeesport was named prince. It was the first time either had attended the Village for Kids, and both said they had a great time despite the rain.

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

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