ShareThis Page
News

Festival a moon shot

| Friday, July 21, 2006

Tressia Henry and Heather Johnson of Vandergrift are long-time friends that have been coming to the Apollo Moon Landing Celebrations for years.

Johnson kept up another tradition, too, trying her hand at the Birthday Game, where a coin on the name of a month and a roll of the dice decides the winner.

"I won the Steelers bear (Wednesday) night," Johnson said. "I looked up and saw it and I said to myself, 'That's going home with me.'"

Johnson added, laughing: "I went to my car to get more money."

Henry said the two friends have gone to the Moon Landing for at least 15 years. Now, Henry is bringing her son Jacob Fouse, 7.

"It's strange because you don't think about that then, that you're going to be bringing your kids here," Henry said.

After recovering from Monday's sweltering temperatures, business has been steady at the Apollo Moon Landing Celebration all week.

"The heat definitely had an affect on Monday, but we've had good crowds," said Bill Kerr, a board member for the celebration committee.

Tonight will feature fireworks dedicated to service men and women.

"We've done that the past few years," said Thomas Coulter, chief of Apollo Volunteer Fire Department No. 2. "We've had a lot of local service men killed, so it feels appropriate."

Those coming to see the fireworks should try to come early, Kerr said.

In the 1960s two residents -- then Mayor Duane Guthrie and Charles Leidy, a tax collector -- decided to promote the link between the borough's name and NASA's Apollo space program.

"So every five years when the nation celebrates the first moon landing, we already have this tied into the celebrations," Kerr said.

Even the county bears a name link to Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, Kerr pointed out.

The festival also offers something nearby to do for those not traveling far this summer.

"I think a lot of folks that aren't traveling because of gas prices," Kerr said.

About 10 community and church groups are involved in the festival, along with local fire departments, said Dennis McCain Sr., committee chairman.

Carlie Copeland, 6, and her brother, Cameron, 8, wound their way through the Monkey Maze that culminates in a twisting slide.

"It was my first time," Carlie said. "The slide was very fast and I like that."

The face painting tent had more than 100 kids stop by to get temporary facial art on Wednesday, according to Jan Meighan, a board member for the Kiddie Korner Nursery School in Apollo, running the tent.

"The 'sandy candy' also is a big hit," said Gina McDermott, a board member for the preschool.

Some of the most popular designs this year have been rainbow and cat faces along with Batman, Spiderman and camouflage.

"The 2- to 3-year-olds can't sit still so you have to paint fast, but the older kids, you can take your time," said Marquitta Guerrera, a teacher at the preschool.

Kiddie Korner will be holding raffles for Pirate tickets, Kennywood passes and gift certificates to local restaurants and family activities in addition to taking preschool registration.

Bill Swank, the owner of Swank's Steel City Shows, said setting up his festival rides, games and concessions is like a homecoming for him.

"I was a fireman for Apollo Hose Co. No. 2," Swank said. In fact, it was the fire department's involvement in the annual festival that got him started in the festival business, 28 years ago.

At Apollo, Steel City provided 14 rides, 25 game booths and six food vendors.

There are 11 other tents belonging to various community groups and churches and four tents belonging to local fire departments, McCain said.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me