by David Croyle
While families travel to find exceptional Halloween activities in Armstrong County, one of the best-kept secrets may just be in Leechburg.
The town is being transformed into next week’s three-day celebration called “Halloweenburg!”
The event is just one of many seasonal activities coordinated by LACA – the Leechburg Area Community Association. The group started out as a business organization; however today, it recruits massive participation from business, retired professionals, and high schoolers.
Betty Smail from Gilpin Township is a long-time volunteer who formerly worked at First National Bank of Leechburg and First Commonwealth.
“Being a banker here in town, we did whatever needed be done in our community. I have been helping out the community ever since its conception. I have helped since day one,” she said.
Judy Provias owns an antiques/collectibles store in town called “La Dee Dah”. She is thrilled with the participation of local individuals in the group.
“Anything that will help the town and bring people into Leechburg and make people realize it is a kewl town,” Provias said. “We all just throw in our opinions and see what we come up with. There’s no actual one person in charge. One lady was up at one of the stores and found (decorations) dirt cheap and we said, ‘Let’s use this’. We made ghosts!”
Provias said she is looking forward to the scarecrow contest. Another volunteer, Paula Henry, said the contest is already in full swing. There is a $10 entry fee. A bale of hay is provided and the business owner or resident decorates the scarecrow.
“We had a contest with the kids in the school – fourth, fifth, and sixth grade. They wrote an essay as to why they would like to be Mayor of Halloweenburg. We go through their essays and pick out five kids. One kid will be the mayor and the other four will be the council members. We take pictures of the scarecrows and put them on a PowerPoint presentation. The kids have a council meeting on October 26 in the borough building and they vote on the scarecrows based on the pictures. The winner wins $100 prize.”
Halloweenburg is scheduled for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday – October 27-29.
The community kicks off the event on Thursday, October 27 at 7PM with its annual Halloweenburg Parade. Judging begins at 6PM in the Leechburg Fire Hall parking lot and the parade starts at 7. An open invitation is extended to anyone who wishes to be in the parade including adults, children, pets, fire companies, ambulance services, ghosts, and witches. Also the Halloweenburg “mayor and council members” will be riding in the parade.
Thursday night is also the famous Pumpkin Carving Contest. Those individuals wishing to be contestants bring their carved jack-o-lantern to the “Weenie Wagon” (a wagon where hot dogs are sold) located in the Klingensmith parking lot at 153 Market Street. Judging begins at 8PM.
On Friday night, a Halloweenburg Bingo Game is planned at the fire hall. For a donation of $20, participants receive one lap board and a buffet dinner. The doors open at 5:30 and dinner is served at 6:15 PM. Costumes are encouraged but not required.
Saturday moves Halloweenburg into the daylight hours, beginning at 10AM with the Pumpkin Trail. According to Henry, the three-hour event hosts over 400 children each year who go door-to-door to local businesses.
“It’s where the kids go store to store from 10 till 1. We are handing out fliers to all the students in elementary school telling them all of the participating businesses. There will be cards in all those businesses that they can pick up. They get the card, then they turn it in for a chance to win a prize. Then the kids all get a hot dog and a drink down at the firemen’s lot (truck garage).
Henry said there are various prizes including a 3-foot box of art supplies.
“There’s also a Paint Party at the Leechburg Library from 12:30 till 2:30,” Henry said. “It’s sponsored by Market Street Art.”
Another activity is a Scavenger Hunt from 1:00-3:00 PM in the firemen’s lot that culminates with a $50 prize. Various vendors will also be setup in the lot for purchase of items.
The next holiday event will be a kick-off to the Christmas Season with “Luminate Leechburg”. It is an all-day activity that begins at 10AM on Saturday, November 26 with various groups participating in musical concerts and other events. It concludes with a Christmas Parade at 5PM.
“Last year, they did gingerbread houses and you could have your picture taken with Santa. It’s also has a Small Business Saturday emphasis,” Henry said.
If anyone wants to participate in LACA activities, you are welcome to call Paula Henry at 724-845-7097.