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Ross Independence Day celebration has grown each year

| Monday, June 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
File photo | Andy Marchese | For the McKnight Journal
The petting zoo always is a popular attraction during Ross Township's Independence Day celebration. Two young goats sit in a cage in the park outside the Ross Township Community Center during last year's event, which was Sunday, July 1, 2012.
File photo | Andy Marchese | For the McKnight Journal
Singer Chris Kardasz performs with his band, KardaZ, during Ross Township's Independence Day celebration Sunday, July 1, 2012, at the Ross Township Community Center. The band will be back for this year's festivities on Sunday, June 30, 2013.
File Photo | Andy Marchese | For the McKnight Journal
Victoria Mahofsky (left) and Faron Stanford watch the fireworks display during Ross Township's Independence Day celebration at the Ross Township Community Center on Sunday, July 1, 2012.

The annual Ross Township Independence Day celebration, which is Sunday, began 18 years ago with a parade but has grown in the number of activities and people in attendance ever since, Ross Commissioner Lana Mazur said.

Mazur started the parade in 1995 and said it has grown steadily ever since with festivities at the Ross Township Community Center that end with fireworks and a movie in the park.

“This is such a good family event, to see all the kids and parents spending time together,” Mazur said. “Anyone who visits the festival is guaranteed to have a good time.”

The parade, which begins at 4 p.m. and runs along Perry Highway, is led by the Ross police and North Hills Senior High School marching band. Many other organizations and local businesses participate and often throw candy, gum or even volleyballs to onlookers, Mazur said.

After the parade, everyone is invited to the community center and surrounding park, where the celebration continues with food, games and music, said Eloise Peet, director of the township's Parks and Recreation Department.

“It's kind of become a family tradition to go to the community center after the parade,” Peet said. “Bring your picnic and your blanket and your chair.”

For the first time, all of the vendor food at the festival will be provided by one restaurant. The Flame BBQ, located in Shaler Township, will run the outdoor concession stand, said Vickey Trader, parks and recreation assistant director.

In past years, the administration and staff of the township would purchase food, prepare it themselves in the community center kitchen and rely on volunteers to run the concession stand all evening, Trader said.

The band KardaZ will perform classic rock music beginning at 7 p.m. and play until the fireworks display by New Castle-based Pyrotecnico at 9:30 p.m.

“You can pretty much see the fireworks from anywhere in that area,” Mazur said. “A lot of people sit in their backyards and watch them.”

Immediately after the fireworks display, “Rise of the Guardians” will be shown as a free movie in the park, Mazur said.

Organizers never will refuse anyone who wants to volunteer at the event or even anyone who still wants to be in the parade, Mazur said. Anyone interested can call the municipal center at 412-931-7055 and ask for Peet or Trader.

The majority of planning and arrangements for the Independence Day celebration already were done when Peet began the job of parks and recreation director on June 12.

“I can't take any credit this year,” Peet said. “The festival is a well-oiled machine, and families look forward to it each year.”

Melanie Donahoo is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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