Community Days will conclude with a bang

FOLLANSBEE – The various units in the Follansbee Community Days Parade represented some of the many things in which residents of the city, and all of Brooke County, take pride.

Local law enforcement agencies and volunteer fire departments opened and closed the procession, which also included performances by the Follansbee Middle School and Brooke High School bands and appearances by West Virginia University Mountaineer mascot Michael Garcia, who stopped often to greet spectators.

Senior members of the Brooke High School football team used their float to welcome their new coach, Mac McLean, and were greeted with applause from the many observers who lined Main Street.

There also was applause for local members of the National Guard, who drove a Humvee; and Brooke County Special Olympics athletes.

The parade also offered a chance to recognize Bill Schwertfeger, a Follansbee native and the Brooke County Veteran Memorial Park Foundation’s Veteran of the Year; and former Brooke football coach Paul “Bud” Billiard, who will receive the Governor’s Service Award later this month for his volunteer efforts.

The Macdonald Pipe Band of Pittsburgh performed patriotic music on bagpipes while The Driftin’ Hoopie Experience played country music.

The band was one of four represented in the parade after being recognized at the Follansbee Community Days Dinner as long-time participants of the festival. In keeping with this year’s theme of “Celebrating the Sounds of Follansbee,” the others were: Legend, the Original Fantasys and Vince Villanova Big Band.

And serving as marshal was Don Layburn, the Follansbee Community Days committee member who has arranged the many nationally known and popular local bands that have performed at the festival over the years.

The festival continues today at the Follansbee Community House parking lot with a classic car show from noon to 3 p.m., and beginning at 5 p.m., The Driftin’ Hoopie Experience, Original Fantasys and Shout: Legends of Rock and Roll.

It will conclude with a fireworks display, but there will be a lot of opportunities for food and fun in between.

In addition to inflatable attractions for children, members of the Brooke-Hancock-Ohio-Marshall Retired and Senior Volunteer Program have teamed with several businesses to offer games for youth.

Visitors also will find assorted crafts for sale and a wide variety of food, including steak, Italian sausage and pulled pork sandwiches, pizza, gelato, Mexican and Chinese food, soft pretzels, funnel cakes and kettle corn.

The Follansbee Knights of Columbus is among civic groups that have manned booths at the festival over the years.

“We’ve been here since day one. It’s one of our biggest fundraisers,” said Vince Croce, who said proceeds from the group’s booth go to the Anderson Children’s Home and Brooke County Special Olympics.

He and fellow Follansbee knight James McFadden welcomed their neighbor, Scottie Bornyk of Scottie’s Sandwich and Deli of Wintersville.

In his first year at the festival, Bornyk said, “I like it over here because there’s a lot of pride here.”

Ralph Dear of Steubenville said he was born in Follansbee and enjoys coming back to hear and dance to the musical entertainment, particularly Legend.

Steven Piccirillo was another Follansbee resident who returned home for the occasion with his wife, Beth; and three children: Renee, 11; Michelle, 8; and Travis, 5.

Piccirillo, who lives in Houston, Texas, said, “We try to come back every summer and this seemed like the best time of year to do it.”

He said his children enjoyed the inflatables, music, cheesy fries and the parade.

“There’s nothing like this in Houston. There’s nothing where people you know by name throw you candy,” Piccirillo said.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)