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St. Vincent students, locals fete ice cream treat with flash mob

Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Attendees raise their bananas and celebrate in unison on cue as part of the banana 'flash mob' event Sunday, August 25, 2013, on the campus of St. Vincent College in Unity Township.

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By Kate Wilcox
Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013, 10:42 p.m.
 

We may scream for ice cream, but residents of Latrobe go bananas for a good split.

Hundreds of St. Vincent College students and Latrobe residents gathered at the college on Sunday to celebrate National Banana Split Day and honor the town known as the birthplace of the banana split.

In what officials are proclaiming the world's first banana flash mob, the students and area residents assembled at Chuck Noll Field at St. Vincent College and held bananas high while screaming, “We love banana splits! Go bananas!” before racing off the field.

After the flash mob, participants went to the Carey Student Center to be treated to a sprawling banana split bar for complimentary do-it-yourself banana splits.

Both events were part of the Great American Banana Split Celebration this weekend hosted by the city of Latrobe, St. Vincent College and Dole Fresh Fruit.

Carter Buccigrossi, 8, of Latrobe was there to eat his first banana split and participate in the family's first flash mob, said his mom, Colleen Buccigrossi. The family celebrated all weekend with banana split events in town.

“We're here to celebrate another great first for Latrobe,” said Carter's father, Bob Buccigrossi.

Planning for the Great American Banana Split Festival has been in motion since April, when the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission approved Latrobe's application for the state historical marker, which commemorates the soda fountain dessert created by David E. Strickler in 1904 at Tassel Pharmacy — later Strickler's Drug Store.

Festivities this weekend included a banana ingredient baking contest, a car show, art exhibits, music and, of course, plenty of banana splits.

The festival, which ran from Friday to Sunday, celebrates the creation of the banana split more than 100 years ago at the Latrobe drug store, which spread in popularity, thanks to the nearby St. Vincent students.

“It's been a lot of nice community spirit,” said Don Orlando, the college's spokesman. “It's all-American.”

Kelli Glessner of Latrobe hopes the tradition continues.

Orlando said that while many people have expressed interest in seeing the event return, no definite plans have been made.

Kate Wilcox is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6155 or kwilcox@tribweb.com.

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