Monessen gears up to Celebrate America at festival
The third annual Celebrate America Festival will be held noon to dusk Saturday at the Herman Mihalich Memorial River Launch in Monessen.
The event is sponsored by The American Medical Community Foundation Inc., located in Monessen. The foundation is a charitable organization that was founded in December 2004 for the purpose of “restoring and rejuvenating the Mon Valley Community, building the morale of the youth in these communities, and raising money to assist the less fortunate of Southwestern Pennsylvania.”
In March 2011, the Salvation Army honored the American Medical Community Foundation founder Robert “D.J.” Dojonovic during its “Doing the Most Good” awards dinner.
The foundation built the Great Pumpkin Patch at an abandoned ball field on Summit Avenue in Monessen. Each fall, that site features a large pirate ship, an erupting volcano, a lighted arch during the winter light-up season, a petting zoo and a gingerbread village, among other things. They help kick off the Salvation Army's red kettle drive prior to each Christmas season.
The organization also buys houses in Monessen for people who can't afford a home.
“We are honored to take part in an event that not only pays tribute to our servicemen and -women but also brings the local communities together in support of one another,” Dojonovic said. “All proceeds from this event benefit local charities, and all of the entertainment is free to the public.
“Join us as we celebrate our country with a festival filled with family-friendly activities and entertainment. There will be an abundance of things to see and do all day long, including wrestling matches, a concert, Star Wars-themed entertainment and much, much more.”
Two former WWE stars — the Patriot and Salvatore Sincere — will highlight the wrestling card. They are now part of the Championship Wrestling Federation.
The Patriot appeared in the WWE in 1997 and 1998 and, on an edition of “Monday Night Raw,” pinned then-WWE heavyweight champion Bret “Hit Man” Hart. A short time later, the Patriot came up just short of capturing the title from Hart on the WWE's “In Your House: Ground Zero” pay-per-view on Sept. 7, 1997.
Sincere performed for the WWE from 1996 through 1998. He appeared on several pay-per-view shows, most notably taking on the Rock on the preshow for “In Your House: It's Time” on Dec. 16, 1996. Sincere is the only man the Rock ever faced in a pay-per-view singles matches whom he did not pin. Sincere also took part in the 1997 and 1998 Royal Rumbles.
Other CWF stars on the show include heavyweight champion “Big Time” Bill Collier, Monessen native Powerhouse Hughes, Mon Valley champion “Hot Stuff” Chris Marx, Keystone champion Jason Gory, Tag Team champions Party Gras (Lord Zoltan and Justin Sane), the undefeated Kato, the Mercenaries (Sniper and Nasty Nick), Dan Sandwich, Chris LeRusso, Shane Taylor, “King of Karaoke” Steve Flash, Dean Radford, Thunder, D.C. Bentley, Dave Daniels and Brittany Force.
There will be three title matches, a dunk tank match, the annual eight-man Celebrate America Festival tournament, a women's match, and bouts including both the Patriot and Sincere.
Local country band Dallas Marks will perform. They have opened for acts such as Randy Travis and Trace Adkins. The concert will begin at 7 p.m.
There will appearances by the Rebel Legion and the 501st. They will be dressed in authentic Star Wars costumes such as Darth Vader, Anakin, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, just to name a few, walking through the crowd. The characters will be available for pictures.
The R2Builders will also be at the festival with their droids. In addition to these characters, The Steel City Ghostbusters, Star Fleet International and the Mandolorian Mercs will be in attendance.
For the third straight year, the festival will feature a Battle of the Barrels. Throughout the day, local fire companies will compete for a chance to win a 6-foot tall trophy.
There will be plenty of activities for children at the festival, including the bouncy castle and slide, face painting, and carnival games.
In addition, river battle boats will come to the river launch as well as a car show along the river.
Food and merchant vendors will be present. The festival will culminate at dusk with a fireworks display, sponsored by the Giant Pumpkin Patch.
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.