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Pressley Ridge event churns out ice cream creations

| Thursday, Aug. 19, 2004

If you want to get the scoop on the newest and most exotic ice-cream flavors, head to the North Side this weekend for a dairy dream-come-true.

Tropical Ice Cream Sunday, a charity fundraiser for Pressley Ridge, combines many live entertainment venues with an all-you-can-eat ice cream buffet. Pressley Ridge is a nonprofit agency that provides social services, special education programs, residential services and mental-health services to youths and their families.

Visitors can sample unlimited quantities of 11 funky flavors, created by 11 corporate sponsors.

Are you hungry yet?

"Of course, there should be some bananas in there somewhere ... banana splits, or tropical sundaes with bananas," jokes Donna Penoyer of Lawrenceville, who will perform at the event as her alter-ego Carmen Banana, a 10-foot, stilt-walking character with a fruit hat and pantaloons. "Because it's the bananas that make me so beautiful!"

Tropical Ice Cream Sunday features entertainment by Mister Rogers' Neighborhood Friends, and live music and dancing by the Royal Polynesians, a tropical entertainment group based in Franklin Park. Singers from area choirs, a petting zoo and pony rides also join the list of entertainers and activities at the tasty event.

Other performers come from Rosalene Kenneth Dancers in Green Tree. A group made up mostly of youths, some as young as 4, will wear brightly colored costumes and dance to several numbers in line with this year's tropical theme.

"We will have an exciting show; we always have a great response there," says Sherry Dusky-Brallier, a teacher with the studio and Cecil resident. The studio has provided dancers each year at the annual ice cream event, which is now in its 12th year.

Each sponsor -- including the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, PNC, PPG Industries and Mellon Financial Corporation -- worked with Reinhold Ice Cream, a North Side manufacturer, to develop its own original flavor. The companies name the ice cream according to the flavor and often the nature of their business, says Yvonne English Roebuck, director of communications for Pressley Ridge. For example, the Trib's flavor is Deadline Crunch, which mixes vanilla ice cream with chunky peanut butter, peanut butter crunch, and chocolate-covered peanut butter pretzels. WQED Multimedia has created Golden Anniversary Almond Crunch in honor of its 50 years.

Reinhold's, which has been in business for more than a century, donates all of the ice cream. A panel of judges chooses its favorite flavor, and visitors also will vote on the best-tasting ice cream flavor. The sponsors creating the two winning flavors each get a trophy.

While visitors enjoy the frozen delights, Pressley Ridge officials say, they can take comfort in knowing they are eating ice cream for a good cause. Call it a noble indulgence -- one that raised about $80,000 at last year's ice cream bash, officials say.

Pressley Ridge, which operates its headquarters on the North Side, serves more than 1,900 children every day in Western Pennsylvania, some nearby states, and some international locations. Pressley Ridge expects to provide more than $60 million its core programs by the end of this fiscal year, says Dr. B. Scott Finnell, president and chief executive officer.

Yet Pressley Ridge spends about $1 million every year for extra, uncompensated care, he says. Such extra money sometimes has sent a youth to college; however, more often it provides the little things that make a big impact on a child's life. For instance, Pressley Ridge has some bought girls prom dresses.

"The truth is that we are seeking ways to enhance every child's ability to reach his or her potential," says Finnell. "The community helps us do that by attending Ice Cream Sunday." Additional Information:

Details

Tropical Ice Cream Sunday

When: Noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Admission: $6; free for younger than 2. $20 per four people. Tickets can be purchased at the gate, or in advance by sending a check to Pressley Ridge Campus, 530 Marshall Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15214.

Where: Pressley Ridge Campus, 530 Marshall Ave., North Side.

Details: (412) 231-1662.

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