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Blue Angels pilots and crew greet each other after landing in Latrobe.

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Memorial Day observances Saturday, Sunday, Monday

Memorial Day 2021 will be observed Saturday, Sunday and Monday in area communities.

According to history.com, Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day 2021 will occur on Monday, May 31.

Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the 1861-1865 Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades.

Unofficially, Memorial Day marks the beginning of the summer season.

On May 5, 1868, Gen. John A. Logan issued a proclamation calling for “Decoration Day” to be observed annually and nationwide; he was commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), an organization of and for Union Civil War veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois.

The website armyhistory.org explains: “Following the Civil War, Logan was instrumental in the founding of the GAR, a veterans group comprised of former Union Army soldiers, and served as the GAR’s second elected national commander; Gen. Stephen Hurlburt was the first commander in chief of the GAR. On 3 March 1868, Logan issued General Order No. 11, which called for a national day of remembrance for Civil War dead. This order served as the basis for what became the national holiday of Memorial Day.”

Area observances include:


“There will NOT be a Memorial Day parade, but a service will be conducted at the monument” (Veterans Memorial Plaza) at 10:30 a.m. Monday, May 31, according to Carol Greenawalt, corresponding secretary / treasurer of Thomas B. Anderson Unit 515, American Legion Auxiliary.

She noted the veterans and Boy Scouts placed American flags on veterans’ graves starting May 15, Armed Forces Day.

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Veteran Art Dira reported this Memorial Day marks the 20th anniversary of the dedication of Veterans Memorial Plaza. From 2001 to 2013, 1,008 bricks were sold and installed at the plaza.

He explained, “In 2014 we installed four granite markers and had all those names inscribed on the markers, as well as adding 127 names since then.

“This Memorial Day we will add the following 26 names”:

WORLD WAR I: Elmer D. Richwine.

WORLD WAR II: Erwin J. Crocker, Joseph L. Schott, Francis W. Hantz, Anthony J. Pesavento, John F. Murry Jr., Donald R. Everett, Dean L. Musick.

KOREA: James A. Moretti.

VIETNAM: Richard l. Woitkowiak, Raymond W. Mount Joy, Joseph C. Nolan, Thomas K. Everett, William R. Butler, Robert D. Stutzman, Anthony J. Pesavento, Richard A. Fry, Roy E. Fry, Barry W. Rummell, Stephen M. Shafran Jr., George H. Pry, Joseph F. Kuhn, Robert K. Kuhn, Stephen A. Semnisky.

GULF WAR: Lynn R. Fry and Theodore R. Black.

“This makes a total of 1,161 names inscribed on the granite markers, and we continue to add more names.”

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The Youngstown-Whitney Volunteer Fire Department will host Memorial Day services at the Baggaley Honor Roll at 9 a.m. and at Brody Park in Youngstown at 10 a.m., according to VFD spokesman Anthony Matuszky.

The invocation, homily and benediction will be conducted by the Rev. James F. Podlesny, OSB, from Sacred Heart Church in Youngstown and St. Cecilia Church, Whitney.

“Taps” will be played by Rob Porembka.

Wreaths will be laid by fire department members.


Along with Fort Ligonier VFW Post 734 with Commander Michael Hootman, the American Legion Byers-Tosh Post 267 with Commander Roy Hutchinson will host a Memorial Day program on Saturday, May 29. The program begins at 11 a.m. at Donaldson Field (203 Boquet St.).

Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce also announced that all are invited to attend a luncheon at the Fort Ligonier VFW, 149 E. Main St., beginning at noon.

There will be live music from 1 to 4 p.m.

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Old Salem Community Church, Route 982 north of New Derry, will hold a re-enactment 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 30, followed by a memorial church service at 2:30 p.m. with light refreshments.

Both will be held outdoors, according to spokeswoman Colleen Reeves.

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This is posted on Derry Borough’s Facebook page:

“Memorial Day parade lineup is at 10 a.m. at Y Street and West Fifth Avenue. Parade starts at 11 a.m. with a memorial service to follow at the Derry Borough Building.”

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New Alexandria’s Robert C. Dornan American Legion Post 652 will hold the main Memorial Day service on Monday, May 31, beginning at 11 a.m. at the New Alexandria Union Cemetery.

Charles A. McNaughton, commander of Post 652, will open the annual service, with guest speaker Pastor Sharon Waltenbaugh of New Alexandria United Methodist Church giving the address.

Special music will be presented by New Alexandria Community Choir under the direction of Debbie Resslar.

Resslar noted, “All are welcome to join us as we support our local American Legion, honor its members, our veterans, and those serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. After the service, everyone is invited to go to the New Alexandria Fire Hall for refreshments.”

In addition, McNaughton announced the following times for the weekend:

Sunday, May 30

Fenneltown Cemetery, New Alexandria, 11:15 a.m.

Congruity Church Cemetery, New Alexandria, 12:15 p.m.

Memorial Day, May 31

Calvary Cemetery, Unity Township, 9:45 a.m.

Church Street, New Alexandria, 10:15 a.m.

Union Cemetery, New Alexandria, 11 a.m. with speakers and New Alexandria Community Choir.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Area veterans organizations and others planning observances for Veterans Day 2021 may email details to Lifestyles Editor Louise Fritz via lb.society@verizon.net or drop off programs in the mail slot beside the front door of the Latrobe Bulletin, 1211 Ligonier St. across from Holy Family Church.

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Blue Angels to show off new jets, thrilling moves at weekend airshow

If they pay close enough attention, spectators that take in this weekend’s Shop ’n Save Westmoreland County Airshow may notice something different about the 2021 U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

Yes, the demonstration pilots still wear eye-catching blue outfits and perform thrilling maneuvers, but they’ll do so this year in new Super Hornet jets.

The updated aircraft are more powerful and about 40% larger than the previous models that dated back to the 1980s.

“From the crowd’s perspective, it might look like we’re actually closer to them than in years past,” said Capt. William Huckeba, pilot of the Blue Angels’ newest C-130J “Fat Albert” plane, during pre-airshow preparations Thursday morning at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport. “It’s really just due to the size.”

The Blue Angels, who are celebrating their 75th anniversary this year, headline Saturday and Sunday’s event at the Unity Township airport.

Because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the airshow has been moved to a “drive-in” format, in which 1,000 vehicles each day will be permitted on the field for the show. Attendees will stay near their vehicles in alternating rows to provide social distancing.

Aside from the Blue Angels, other performers include the F-22 Raptor Demo Team, Rob Holland, Jim Tobul, Skip Stewart, Skooter Yoak, Greg Koontz and the U.S. Navy Leapfrogs parachute team.

This year’s event will also feature a special “Heroes’ Tribute Flight” as a prelude to the airshow. Four performers from the show roster — Tobul, Yoak, Stewart and Holland — will trail smoke in formation on a circuitous 100-plus mile course over cities, towns and villages around Westmoreland County each day of the show.

The pilots will be flying a pair of World War II-era fighter planes — an F4U Corsair and a P-51 Mustang — along with a Stewart’s Pitts Special biplane and Holland’s modified MXS aerobatic plane.

Westmoreland County Airport Authority Executive Director Gabe Monzo said the tribute flight pilots will fly all over the county, including the Greensburg, Ligonier, Mount Pleasant, Rostraver and Vandergrift areas.

Monzo said the flights, which are slated to take off at 10:15 a.m. both days, are a tribute to first responders, frontline workers and essential workers who have kept the region together during the pandemic.

The Blue Angels are slated to perform more than 50 demonstrations in 2021. The Blue Angels took part in the 2017 Westmoreland airshow and also made back-to-back appearances in 2014 and 2015.

There was no airshow at the Unity Township facility last year because three major jet teams — the Blue Angels, U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and Canadian Forces Snowbirds — had filled their performance schedules and were unavailable for booking.

If the weather cooperates this weekend, Huckeba, 31, an Alabama native, said airshow spectators are “going to see a high show. That’s the most exciting thing, where we take a lot of maneuvers vertical, with rolls as well as loops.”

He said one of his favorite formations is the tightly-packed Diamond 360. He noted that each of the Blue Angels’ demo pilots spent three months training in California in order to be re-certified to fly the new Super Hornets.

“That’s where you’re talking about aircraft flying about 18 inches apart,” he said of the diamond formation. “That’s pretty incredible, just really showing the precision of the diamond flying.”

AE2 Andy Bennett, 30, a member of the avionics crew who is from Wayne County, not far from Scranton, said the team “has been chomping at the bit to get on the road and show everybody what we’ve got.”

This weekend’s airshow will also provide an opportunity for Bennett to return to Pennsylvania, where he hopes to spend time with his wife and children, who are making the trip to the Keystone State from the Blue Angels’ home base in Pensacola, Florida.

There is another Pennsylvania connection on the squad, as Huckeba’s father-in-law lives in Pittsburgh.

“We’re excited to be here with all these rolling hills,” he said.

Gates will open at 11 a.m. both days of the airshow. Airport officials said a limited number of tickets were available at select Shop ‘n Save stores, including the Latrobe location along Lincoln Avenue, as of Thursday morning. Purchasers must choose which day they will attend.

Car passes cost $100 per vehicle, with up to eight occupants, with an additional charge for oversized vehicles. VIP tickets are sold out, Monzo said.

While no static displays will be at this year’s airshow, Monzo said airport officials anticipate having four to five major exhibitors that guests can visit during the two-day event, including exhibits from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, Shop ‘n Save and more.

The airshow will also be livestreamed on the airshow Facebook page and broadcast on local radio. The show will be broadcast via radio on 1480 AM beginning at 9:45 a.m. Saturday, with 98.7 FM and 910 AM to pick up coverage at 11 a.m. Additionally, 1480 AM will continue coverage until the end of the day. The airshow will be broadcast on all frequencies Sunday, with coverage to begin at 9:45 a.m.

A number of airshow-related road closures are planned this weekend in Unity Township: Route 981 from Henry Road to Schmucker Road, 2 to 4 p.m. Friday and 1:45 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, and Airport Road from Route 981 to Earhart Road, Earhart Road from Airport Road to Xavier Road and Haines Road from Airport Road to Sessi Road, 2 to 4 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

For more airshow details, visit www.palmerairport.com.

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Latrobe's 4th of July Celebration, fireworks display returning this summer

Latrobe’s annual Fourth of July Celebration is officially back.

This year’s one-day event, set for July 3, will feature a 5K race, inaugural car cruise, food vendors, music, and of course — the community’s popular fireworks display.

Blackout Tinting in Unity Township donated $51,000 towards sponsoring the fireworks display which is scheduled for 9:45 p.m. July 3 at Legion-Keener Park.

“I grew up on St. Clair Street (in Latrobe),” said Blackout Tinting owner Josh Poponick. “Every Fourth of July, me and my family would walk down to the baseball field at Legion-Keener to watch the fireworks.”

He said that Fourth of July in Latrobe was one of his favorite days of the year growing up.

“I remember (the fireworks) being really, really awesome, and so that’s sort of what I wanted to do again,” Poponick said.

Beth Straka and Ann Powell, co-chairs of the Latrobe Fourth of July Celebration committee, took over planning the celebration in January 2020. However, Latrobe officials canceled last year’s Fourth of July Celebration amid concerns of large gatherings.

Straka said the pandemic hampered the committee’s ability to hold fundraisers throughout the past year, but Blackout Tinting stepped up by helping to organize a virtual gun bash, held April 10, which funded its donation towards the fireworks display.

“Every penny we made from that gun bash went into the celebration,” Straka said. The donation also covered expenses and permits carried over from last year.

“Blackout Tinting has been one of the biggest supporters, sponsors for the fireworks,” she added. “Josh wanted to do the fireworks. He wanted to revamp them. He wanted to do whatever he could to give us a good fireworks display.”

When Gov. Tom Wolf in early May announced that COVID-19 mitigation orders expect masking would be lifted on Memorial Day, Straka said the committee hustled to organize activities following the latest guidelines.

“We were running around trying to figure out something to do for the community,” Straka said. “Everybody’s ready to get out there and celebrate being able to be involved in something.”

Poponick plans on sponsoring the event

Schedule for July 3

The Fourth of July 5K run begins at 9 a.m. at Latrobe’s Memorial Stadium. Registration for the race hosted by Latrobe-GLSD Parks & Recreation will take place at 7:30 a.m.

There will be road closures July 3 from 8-11 a.m. for the race — with a route yet to be determined.

For more information, visit latroberecreation.org.

“We want to work with every organization in town to make this a community event,” Straka said. “When we took over the celebration, that was our main goal to bring everything back to the community.”

The Latrobe Legion baseball team takes on backyard rival Unity, 1 p.m. July 4, at Legion-Keener. On July 3, Latrobe Legion hosts Derry at 2 p.m.

Food vendors and music by DJ Don are scheduled from 2:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the stadium. Meanwhile, from 3 to 7:30 p.m., the celebration’s inaugural car cruise will occur at the stadium’s parking lot.

The first 200 cars receive a dash plaque. There will also be games of chance and 50/50.

The Rogers-McFeely Memorial Pool is open from noon until 5 p.m. on July 3. Pool parking will not be available in the stadium parking lot. Parking is suggested at Memorial Drive.

Food vendors include: Speals on Wheels, Rosemary’s Country Kitchen, Waterford Volunteer Fire Department, Kona Ice, Lynne’s Franks, Kettlecorn Clinic, Kettle Dad BBQ and Latrobe F.O. Eagles. Meanwhile, Greater Latrobe’s track and field and football boosters will be selling drinks at the stadium’s concession stand.

The stadium will be closed to all parking from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. for the car cruise, while fireworks parking will be available after 7:30 p.m. in the stadium’s lot.

The stadium area will be one-way around the stadium starting at Memorial Drive, going into the area from Chestnut Street, exiting on Irving Avenue.

Parking is also available in the parking garage on Spring Street, parking lots surrounding the downtown area or legal street parking.

Also, the Fourth of July Celebration is holding a home and business decorating contest. Participants are invited to decorate their home or business in honor of the nation’s independence.

Entries must be submitted by 4 p.m. June 18. Registration forms are available at Latrobe’s municipal building and at select businesses in the community.

Prize packages will be given to homeowner winners, plus a “Get Your 4th On” trophy.

There won’t be a Fourth of July parade downtown this year.

No paper Monday, Bulletin closed for Memorial Day

The Latrobe Bulletin will be closed and there will be no paper published on Monday, May 31, in observance of Memorial Day. There also is no Parade magazine in today’s (May 28) edition of the paper. The office will reopen at 8 a.m. Tuesday, June 1.

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New Latrobe Farmers Market season begins Tuesday

While the Latrobe Farmers Market managed to weather the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and still have some semblance of a season in 2020, organizers are looking forward to a more normal summer this year.

The local staple will open its new season from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 1, and will continue each Tuesday through Oct. 12.

The market will be held at Legion-Keener Park, near the wooden playground. New and returning vendors can sign up online at www.latroberecreation.org and click the “Updates” tab to access the 2021 farmers market vendor packet, or vendors can register in person the day of the market.

Latrobe-GLSD Parks and Recreation Director Craig Shevchik, whose organization runs the market, said the weekly event generally boasts about 20 vendors during the first few weeks. By late June, he noted that “it starts picking up” and another 10 vendors or so join the market contingent.

What makes the Latrobe market unique, he noted, is the open space at the downtown park and the organization’s “flexibility” in welcoming new vendors.

“We’ll find a spot for you,” Shevchik said.

The Latrobe Farmers Market, which has been run the past few years by Latrobe-GLSD and the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program before that, is sponsored this season by Latrobe Dairy Queen.

Shevchik said the farmers market last year introduced “market dollars,” which can be used for items at the event.

“Every other week, we have a drawing and you fill out a paper at the market manager’s stand and the following week, we draw it and it’s worth $5 of market dollars you can spend in the park,” he said. “Then (Latrobe-GLSD) reimburses the stand those dollars were used at.”

This year, Shevchik said the Latrobe Farmers Market is slated to host weekly special events, such as cooking demonstrations, guests from Excela Health, Adams Memorial Library storytime at the park and an appearance from the Latrobe Police Department where officers show off their vehicles and answer questions from the community.

While Shevchik noted that a second market time has been discussed, he acknowledged the Latrobe Farmers Market’s weekday format differentiates it from other area markets.

“It may sound great to move it to Saturday, but we are an afternoon market,” he said. “That’s what we are and I don’t think we should get away from it.”

For more information about the Latrobe Farmers Market, visit the market’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LatrobeFarmersMarket.