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Patriotic service to feature music, inspiration

| Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Mary Stynchula remembers that attendance was low when the Patriotic Interfaith Service started 26 years ago as part of Latrobe's Fourth of July celebration. One year, she said, there were five people on stage and 10 or 12 in the audience.

Things have changed considerably. Last year, there was standing room only for the annual event at the Latrobe Elementary School auditorium. Stynchula, the program coordinator for 22 years, expects an equally good turnout for Sunday's service, and it's not too late to participate.

"Anyone who wants to sing can still join us," she said. "Just show up for our last rehearsal."

That's being held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the lycium of Holy Family Church in Latrobe. There are no auditions nor requirements to become part of the performance.

This year's choir has more than 50 vocalists of all ages and abilities, from people who sing in church and chorale groups, to those who just like to sing. The diversity and commitment are part of the spirit behind the event.

"Latrobe is such a warm community, and this just pulls everyone together," Stynchula said.

She is no stranger to the town's hospitality. In 1948, after her mother died, local people "opened their arms" to her, and she's been involved with Latrobe ever since. Her volunteer and community work are so extensive that she received the local Chamber of Commerce's last Community Service Award.

Patriotism is always the theme for the service that's sandwiched between week-long activities in town. This year's timely topic, "The Conditions of the World and Iraq," will be presented by John Spisso, of Greensburg, civilian aide to the U.S. Army, Pennsylvania West. Russell Lowden, from the Rolling Rock Detachment, United States Marine Corps League, will focus on "Freedom is Not Free." Barbara Nakles, chairwoman of the conservation trust of the high school's art collection, will present "Keepers of the the Dream."

The music will include a medley of military songs from all branches of the service, and Coreen Poklembo will sing "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree" as a tribute to the troops still overseas. Among the other selections are "God Bless America," "You Are The Wind Beneath My Wings," "United We Stand," and the national anthem.

Holocaust survivor Robert Mendler will give the invocation, the Rev. Hezekiah Foster, pastor of the Second Baptist Church in Latrobe, will give the benediction, and Nancy Stynchula will talk to children about respecting the flag. Retired naval captain Jim Bendel and Mayor Warren Marckioni also will speak, and Dan Stumpf will lead the Latrobe American Legion Post 515 color guard in flag ceremonies.

The interfaith program draws people of all faiths and, Stynchula said, "We have people who don't go to church at all."

What they all have in common is the desire to celebrate America's favorite summer holiday with their neighbors. For Stynchula, that turns into a year-long event.

"I start planning the next one on my way home," she said.

Fourth of July festivites


The queen and her court will preside over the Greater Latrobe Fourth of July Celebration. Stacey Hawkins, daughter of Dave and Barb Hawkins, of Latrobe, is the queen. Court members are Megan Datsko, of Blairsville (first runner-up), Katie Torb, of Latrobe (second runner-up), and Brittany Bureau, of Latrobe (Miss Congeniality).

Here is what's on tap at the Greater Latrobe Fourth of July celebration:

Today

7 p.m.: Big Wheels Race, Memorial Drive; registration, 6 p.m.

Friday

7 p.m.: Rolling Rock five-mile run; registration, 5:30 p.m., Latrobe Memorial Stadium (Irving Avenue side).

9 p.m. : Rolling Rock party, Mountain View Inn; $10 (free for five-mile runners)

Saturday

8 p.m.-midnight: Firecracker Frolic, Latrobe White Eagles Club, Weldon and Jefferson streets

Sunday

7 p.m.: Patriotic Interfaith Service, Latrobe Elementary School, Ligonier Street.

Tuesday

5-10 p.m.: Midway open

6 p.m.: Kross Roads, variety music, Legion-Keener Park

July 2

5-10 p.m.: Midway open

6 p.m.: Mike garris and Pure Country Band, Legion-Keener Park

July 3

5-10 p.m.: Midway open

6 p.m.: The Dancer's Workshop, Legion-Keener Park

7:30 p.m.: Wade Martz & Eddie Z, Legion-Keener Park

July 4

9 a.m.: Parade lineup

10:30 a.m.: Parade begins at Irving Avenue, left onto Ligonier Street down to Main Street, left onto Main Street, left onto Jefferson Street, left onto Chestnut Street

noon-10 p.m.: Midway open

1 p.m.: The Front Page, Legion-Keener Park

3 p.m.: Lenny Lavin, Elvis tribute: Legion-Keener Park

4 p.m.: The Doc Rockers, Legion-Keener Park

6 p.m.: Lenny Lavin, Legion-Keener Park

7 p.m.: Scotty & The Blues Peddlers, Legion-Keener Park

9:30 p.m.: Fireworks

July 5

9 a.m.-noon: Blood drive, Red Cross office, Lincoln Avenue.

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