Latrobe 4th of July committee among annual chamber honorees
Latrobe’s 4th of July Celebration has provided patriotic fun for residents and visitors for half a century. This year, as the festival goes through a behind-the-scenes transition, its 30-member organizing committee is being recognized as Nonprofit of the Year by the Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The Latrobe 4th committee will be among organizations, businesses and individuals honored at the chamber’s 74th annual dinner, set for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 21 at Saint Vincent College’s Fred Rogers Center.
The 4th of July festival has been “a signature event for the city for 50 years,” said chamber President Briana Tomack. “It’s one of the biggest events in the city. People have really looked forward to it.
“It has changed and grown over the years. It’s very important to the economic development of the area.”
Tomack pointed out the mid-summer celebration draws many former residents back to the town, to stay at local hotels while visiting with family and friends and patronizing area restaurants and businesses.
The chamber honor comes as Carol Greenawalt, the festival’s longtime chairwoman, is stepping down and handing over the reins to a successor.
“I’m very proud of what I’ll be leaving behind,” said Greenawalt, who operates a beauty salon in Latrobe. She joined the festival in 1987, as a volunteer assisting with the Miss 4th of July Pageant.
“We wanted to keep the people in Latrobe for our little hometown event, but it got bigger and bigger, and here we are,” she said. The festival’s parade this year featured about 100 units.
Latrobe Fire Chief John Brasile announced this month that he has agreed to take over chairing the celebration and has a few changes in mind, including revised routes for the parade and for a five-mile run.
“I think it’s important that the city is going to continue the tradition, with some people with experience and maybe some new ideas,” said Tomack.
Other 2019 chamber honorees include:
• Brian Panichelle, president of BP Insurance, Volunteer of the Year. He serves as a chamber ambassador and as operations chair for Latrobe’s Great American Banana Split Celebration.
• Richard Cassidy, president of Kattan-Ferretti Insurance, Community Service Award. His family-operated business has donated to the Latrobe Rotary’s Backpack Bag-Of-Food Program, which provides nutritious weekend food for students in need at local schools.
• Judith Swigart, retired Greater Latrobe School District superintendent, Fred Rogers Good Neighbor Award. During her 11 years as the district’s top administrator, she led capital projects that developed an athletic and wellness complex at the high school campus, moved the district’s central office to the former Red Cross building on Latrobe’s Lincoln Avenue and constructed a new Latrobe Elementary School across the street.
• LESCO Federal Credit Union, Small Business of the Year. Formed in 1950 by employees of the Latrobe Electric Steel Company (now Carpenter Technology Corporation), it has evolved into a community credit union with a focus on financial literacy for young people. The credit union has been a driving force behind the chamber’s Young Professionals Group, which organizes an annual Kickoff to Giving dinner.
For more information, visit www.gllv.org or call 724-537-2671.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .