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St. Sebastian Parish Festival to feature rides, games, activities

| Thursday, June 30, 2016, 8:55 p.m.

A new attraction will highlight this year's St. Sebastian Parish Festival in Ross from July 11 to 16.

For the first time, ride vendor Powers & Thomas Midway Entertainment is bringing the Swing Buggy to the festival, said Mario Grana, co-chairman of the festival committee.

“It's an awesome, awesome ride,” Grana said.

The base of the ride is similar to the Muzik Express at Kennywood, but the cars hang from a structure that allows them to swing freely.

“Cars you sit in go forward and backward and up and down,” Grana said.

It will be hard to miss on the festival grounds. There are more than 50,000 lights on the ride, Grana said.

The event has a strong lineup of kiddie and adult rides, he said.

“We bill it as a little mini-Kennywood,” Grana said. “That is the quality of the rides.”

Festival hours will be from 6:30 to 10 p.m. each night except for July 16, when the fun starts at 5 p.m. The parish campus is at 311 Siebert Road.

The festival's Kids Zone, with activities designed to appeal to children ages 9 and younger, will feature a new program, the Carnegie Science Center's “Science of Baseball” program, which will be in the “zone” from 7 to 9 p.m. July 12, Grana said.

One “back by popular demand” activity in the Kids Zones, he said, will be the opportunity to visit the Snow Queen, who easily might be mistaken for Elsa from “Frozen,” from 7 to 9 p.m. July 14 and 15.

The featured activity from 7 to 9 p.m. July 16 is cookie decorating with Smiley and his Cookie Cruiser from Eat'n Park. Children decorated about 2,000 cookies at last year's festival, Grana said.

This year, Big Bob's BBQ ribs and pulled pork will be available all six nights, instead of just two.

“They line up for his ribs,” Grana said. “We've been trying to get him for every night for the past five years.”

Grana, 66, of Ross, said he has been a co-chairman of the festival for about a dozen years, and his favorite part of the festival is the people who attend. From 12,000 to 15,000 are expected.

Organizers hope to raise $125,000, about 80 percent of which will go to the parish school and faith-formation programs, Grana said.

But, he said, the festival is about more than that.

“It promotes faith, family and friendship,” he said.

Madelyn Dinnerstein is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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