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Homer City's Hoodlebug parade will recognize school achievements

| Thursday, July 10, 2014, 8:55 p.m.
Bruce Siskawicz - The Dispatch
Pete Maggio of Homer City unlocks the hood of his 1968 Camaro during the 2013 Hoodlebug Summerfest car cruise in Homer City.

Homer City will play host to the 17th annual Hoodlebug Summerfest July 13. The festival is named for a passenger rail car that made daily trips between Indiana and Blairsville, passing through Homer City, and the walking and biking trail that later replaced the train tracks.

The event attracts around 5,000 attendees each year, said Sheila Charnego of the Homer City Area Business Association, which sponsors the celebration.

“It's very well-attended,” Charnego said. “A lot of locals, and we've heard people say they schedule their family reunions to come back at that time.... It's kind of nice that way.”

The festival opens at 11:45 a.m. with a flag-raising at the Homer City Volunteer Fire Department.

Registration for the Hoodlebug Trail Bicycle/Run/Walk Poker Run begins at 9 a.m. at Floodway Park. Same-day registration for the 12-mile bicycle ride or 5K run/walk costs $15. Starting at 9:30 a.m., bicyclists will head one way from the starting point, while walkers and runners head the opposite direction, Charnego said. Participants will pick up poker cards at stations along the trail in hopes of collecting the best hand. Winners will be given their awards and prizes at noon on the festival stage near the fire hall.

Registration to compete in the festival's various contests opens at the information booth at noon. A hula-hoop contest is first, at 2:45 p.m. There will also be jitterbug, polka and eating contests.

A parade on Main Street, which begins at 1 p.m., will have the float theme “Wildcats Train To Fame” to recognize a year of athletic, musical and academic endeavors enjoyed by Homer-Center School District, Charnego said.

Between noon and 8 p.m., music from Todd Edwards, The Boomers, Kevin Dale and Somebody To Love will be featured on the festival stage.

A Kids' Zone will be open from noon to 4 p.m. at the fire hall, with activities and exhibits for children, and the Homer-Center Historical Society will conduct a duck race fundraiser at 4 p.m. at Floodway Park. The Homer City Community Pool will offer discounted swimming passes for $3 from noon to 6 p.m.

The Indiana Road Runners will conduct a 5K race, with registration beginning at 4:30 p.m. at Floodway Park and the race starting there at 6 p.m.

A pair of community events coinciding with the Hoodlebug Summerfest make their debut this year — a super-sized sundae race presented by Head Start and a girls' 11- and 12-year-old softball tournament at the Homer-Center Booster fields.

“It helps us both,” Charnego said of the community events the day of the festival. “They draw people in for us, we draw people in for them. It's a good thing.”

The softball tournament will start at 10 a.m. on July 12 with pool play, according to organizer Adam Marshall, and the tournament playoffs will be held on the day of the Hoodlebug Summerfest.

“It's something new, something different,” Marshall said. “The cool thing that we're doing is we're doing a homerun derby Saturday evening. That's something that's kind of unique that not many softball tournaments do. It's something kind of different, something kind of neat to watch.”

The super-sized sundae race will be held beginning at 2 p.m. at the Homer City Head Start center at 30 W. Elm St. Head Start staff members and volunteers will compete in teams to see who can construct their sundaes the fastest, and visitors will reap the rewards with more than 30 gallons of ice cream being served after the contest is over.

“We're going to have, hopefully, three teams of five if all my volunteers show up, and we're going to build the sundaes,” said Becky Carney, health and nutrition services manager for Head Start of Indiana County. “We're going to use it as a recruiting event. It will be right at our Homer City Head Start center, on the playground. We're also going to have our bus participating in the parade and hand out brochures.”

A mainstay at the festival for years, the Hoodlebug Car Cruise will have a new location this year. The cruise, which runs from 1 to 4 p.m., will take place in a field along Route 56 West, between the BiLo supermarket and MGK Technologies.

A shuttle will be available to transport visitors between a free parking area at MGK Technologies, on Cooper Avenue, to the festival grounds on West Church Street and back.

“If you want to go to the car cruise, you can simply get on the shuttle and ride it down there and also ride it back up, so that makes it convenient,” Charnego said.

Ethnic food, crafts, games and bingo will be available throughout the day. Visitors can bring lawn chairs to enjoy the entertainment offerings, but no alcohol, pets, bikes, rollerblades or skateboards are permitted on festival grounds.

Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913 or greinbold@tribweb.com.

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