Westmoreland Heritage promotes tourism ‘passport’
People who visit at least 25 Westmoreland County historic and cultural sites, art centers, theatres and community festivals this year can not only learn about the county’s history and heritage but get some prizes in return.
A passport program offered by Westmoreland Heritage, in conjunction with the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau in Ligonier, has a new twist this year by providing visitors to 25 of the 34 places listed in the pocket passport a “goody bag” of prizes from various sites, said Jessica Petrovich, coordinator of Westmoreland Heritage, a program of the Westmoreland County Historical Society. Plus, they have a chance at the grand prize drawing — a chance to win a stay at the Springhill Suites by Marriott, the Unity hotel located across from Arnold Palmer Regional Airport that was once owned by the late golfer.
“We’ve expanded the level of interest and participation in the passport program. It gives people more of an incentive to be involved, ” Petrovich said.
The passport previously was an informational pamphlet to educate residents and tourists about the county’s attractions.
Some sites will stamp the passport on pages describing the site or the event, while for others, a ticket stub to a concert venue — like the Lamp Theatre in Irwin or the Apple Hill Playhouse in Delmont — will be proof to qualify for the goody bag, Petrovich said. Visitors to some sites can register their visit by social media at #whpassport2019, Petrovich said.
The passport program “is an amazing collaboration between the sites,” Petrovich said.
Sites in this year’s passport include Fort Ligonier, Bushy Run Battlefield, West Overton Museum, Compass Inn Museum, New Kensington Art Center, Saint Vincent College, the Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festival, the Overly Country Christmas and Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra.
The program also aligns with the organization’s mission of “expanding Westmoreland’s cultural and history tourism,” said Petrovich, a former teacher who has been the coordinator in November.
The passport program runs until Dec. 31, Petrovich said. Passports are available at the Laurel Highlands Visitors Center in Youngwood and at the Westmoreland County Historical Society, which is in the process of moving its office from Unity to Hanna’s Town in Hempfield. Completed passports must be presented by Jan. 17 at the historical society’s new Westmoreland History Education Center at Historic Hanna’s Town.
Those who reach 25 stamps will be eligible for a drawing in January for the grand prize hotel stay. The Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce also will provide a plaque recognizing their accomplishment.
Petrovich said she believes the new passport program will give people a special incentive “to go to the (sites) they’ve never been before.”
“I’m really passionate about getting residents to go to these places,” said Petrovich, a graduate of Greater Latrobe High School and Saint Vincent College.
While the passports entice visitors to sites and events in central and northern Westmoreland County, as well as the Scottdale area, it does not list any site or festival in the West Newton area or the communities south of the Youghiogheny River — Rostraver, North Belle Vernon or Monessen.
“We are always open to suggestions,” Petrovich said.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .