Serra Band Show Has Romantic, Spanish Flavor

August 16, 2021 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: Entertainment, McKeesport and Region News

Serra Marching Band student leaders are, in front from left, drum major Abigail Bernick, tenor sax soloist Maigen McGinty, and flute soloist and heroine Paige Rock. In back are Joe Crossen, drum major, trumpet soloist, and matador; bass clarinet soloist Jordan Premozic; and color guard captain Madalyn Peairs.

Surprises and finishing touches still were being tweaked as Serra Catholic High School’s marching band students and adult personnel completed the first week of camp for “El Matador” on Aug. 13.

“This year’s show is about a matador who falls in love with a beautiful lady in the crowd,” band director Jesse Bush said. “There is of course a bullfight in the show, and hopefully a really awesome ending that I don’t want to spoil.”

Drum major Joe Crossen has a trumpet solo. In addition to his musical talents, he’s tasked with bringing the story of the matador to life.

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Tiger Band’s Fall Show a Ray of Sunshine

August 16, 2021 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: Entertainment, McKeesport and Region News

Some of the Tiger Band musicians prepare to step off during a short break from intermittent heavy rain during their annual camp. (Bonnijean Cooney Adams photo for Tube City Almanac)

If you go...


“SOLARbration!” parent and public preview night

Where: Weigle-Schaeffer Memorial Stadium
At McKeesport Area High School

When: 6 p.m. Aug. 26

More information: Twitter and Facebook

A giant sun prop stage in the middle of the field will be featured when McKeesport Area High School Marching Band kicks off its 2021 season with a return to competitions, festivals, and home and away football game performances.

“We wanted it to be exciting, festive, happy, a celebration of life,” band director Drew DeCarlo said of the “SOLARbration!” theme.

Band booster Mark St. Clair designed the sun prop, with painting by Anna Chapell.

A trailer for the show in May on the band’s YouTube site showcased how different cultures throughout history have celebrated the sun. “After last year (with COVID-related performance restrictions and other difficulties), we wanted something very different,” DeCarlo said. “There is a lot of percussion, even a rainforest-like sound.”

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Four Casturo Scholarship Winners Announced

August 13, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Announcements, McKeesport and Region News

The Casturo family has been awarding scholarships at International Village for three decades — and didn’t want to break the streak just because there was no event last year.

Usually, two scholarships are announced on the last night of the event, Tracy Casturo said.

This year, despite a severe thunderstorm on Thursday night that forced entertainment at Renziehausen Park to end early, four winners of Casturo Family Educational Achievement Awards were announced from the main stage.

Two scholarships were awarded for 2021 and two for 2020, Casturo said Friday. “We have been doing this for 29 years and didn’t want to skip it” for 2020, she said.

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Attendees Delighted at Village’s Return

August 13, 2021 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The Rankin Junior Tamburitzans practiced for months for their day on stage. The group performed Wednesday night. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)

Despite intermittent rainy weather and hot, humid days, many residents from McKeesport and surrounding areas came out to Renziehausen Park to enjoy different nationality foods along with entertainment.

Held Tuesday through Thursday, the three-day celebration of ethnic heritage was welcomed after last year’s cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Susan Skvarla of Irwin, who attended along with her husband, Skip, said their favorite foods are halushki, pierogies and stuffed cabbages. Skvarla said she hadn’t been to International Village for years because it fell on days when she was vacationing.

“A friend mentioned International Village was happening so Skip and I wanted to have the experience this year,” she said.

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Authority Lifts Water-Use Ban, Hints at Legal Action

August 13, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Despite three recently repaired holes in Rebecca Street and shiny new bolts on this fire hydrant near McKeesport Auto Body — site of a massive fire on July 16 — officials of the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County will not confirm or deny they have done any work in the area. (Tube City Almanac photo)

Almost a month after a massive fire destroyed a McKeesport car-repair shop, the water authority serving the city has lifted the final restrictions on drinking water in the area.

In giving five homeowners the “all clear” on Thursday to resume using their water, the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County also hinted that it will take legal action to recover what it called the “excessive” costs of dealing with the contamination of the water supply in parts of the lower 10th Ward.

But when pressed on who or what the authority wants to hold responsible, a spokesman refused to answer questions.

“I have told you all I have to say on this issue today,” Matt Junker, authority spokesman, told Tube City Almanac on Thursday afternoon.

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Trash Bin Fire Not Suspicious

August 06, 2021 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A fire in a pile of construction debris on Thursday afternoon was likely started by a lit cigarette, McKeesport firefighters said.

Crews were dispatched to the 500 block of Fifth Avenue, Downtown, when callers reported that debris in a large metal dumpster was on fire.

The blaze was quickly extinguished. Firefighters and McKeesport police reviewed surveillance video and determined that a cigarette probably ignited construction material that had been discarded, said Gene Esken Jr., deputy fire chief.


Two Injured as Fire Sweeps Vacant House

August 06, 2021 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Two city firefighters sustained burns battling what a McKeesport deputy fire chief called an “aggressive” and “very, very hot” blaze at a vacant home on Versailles Avenue.

McKeesport police and the Allegheny County fire marshal’s office are investigating the fire at 3004 Versailles Ave., which Gene Esken Jr., deputy fire chief, said is suspicious in nature.

“The home has been unoccupied for several years,” he said. “There is no gas service to the house and although the electric meter was attached, there was no one living in the house.”

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Drop in Available Workers Vexs Local Employers

August 04, 2021 |

By Siana Emery | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

About 80,000 workers have left the local labor force since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the area’s largest employers are finding it harder to fill vacancies.

According to a recent study by the Pennsylvania Economy League of Greater Pittsburgh, employment in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area in May 2021 was only 93.5 percent of what it was in May 2019. Of major American metro areas, only Cleveland, Boston and Detroit saw larger declines.

Experts blame a variety of factors, including health care workers who are burned out after 18 months of the pandemic and a lack of college students in the local job-training pipeline.

The problem in Pittsburgh is aggravated by two factors — a high percentage of older workers who were already near retirement age, and a stagnant and declining population base.

“There is evidence nationally that older workers have disproportionately dropped out of the labor force due to COVID,” said Chris Briem, a regional economist at the University Center for Social and Urban Research at the University of Pittsburgh. “The Pittsburgh region has a relatively older workforce, so if older workers were more impacted by COVID, it would make sense we are seeing concentrated impacts here.”

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‘Village for Kids’ Celebrates 12th Year

August 03, 2021 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Participants in the 2019 “A Village for Kids” enjoy a game at Renziehausen Park. Along with the return of McKeesport International Village, the kids’ theme event is also returning on Aug. 9. (Submitted photo courtesy State Sen. Jim Brewster)

If you go...


“A Village for Kids”

Where: Renzie Park Band Shell

When: Monday, Aug. 9 from noon to 4 p.m., rain or shine

Tickets: Free

Also available: Free Covid-19 Vaccines for ages 12 & up, administered by Allegheny County Health Department. Pfizer and J&J vaccines will be offered. County health department will return on Aug. 30 at the same time for people to get their second dose, where applicable. Walk-ups welcome, or pre-register at

More information: Alison Piccolino, (412) 380-2242

An outpouring of support from community groups and the partnership with International Village has made it possible for A Village For Kids to continue on Monday (Aug. 9) for the 12th year.

Both it and International Village were among McKeesport events canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“This event began as a celebration of International Village’s 50th anniversary and we’re still here,” said chair Alison Piccolino, who has been involved with the planning since the first year.

“We are partners with International Village and, after speaking with their committee and they were going with their amazing event, I got the go-ahead for Village for Kids,” she said.

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Village Returns to Renzie After COVID-19 Hiatus

August 03, 2021 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Weather permitting, Tube City Online will broadcast live entertainment from International Village on Facebook and YouTube, and at our home page, Coverage will begin each day at 5 p.m.

International Village, a three-day festival of traditional ethnic food, music and dancing, returns to McKeesport’s Renziehausen Park Aug. 10–12 after a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some ethnic groups have elected not to participate after being unable to practice for health and safety reasons. (Tube City Almanac file photo by Denise L. Ritter)

When it’s 3:01 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 10, longtime International Village emcee Mikey Dee knows where he’ll be — Renziehausen Park in McKeesport — and how he expects to feel.

“That’s when I’ll feel like we’re getting back to some kind of normal,” he said –- the minute after the ethnic celebration of traditional food, music and entertainment kicks off after a year’s hiatus because of COVID-19.

“I love the crowds. I love the familiar sights, sounds, and smells of the Village. I’m a big, traditional guy,” he said.

Dee said he’s been involved with International Village since 1990. In addition to his emcee duties, which he’s splitting with stage manager Patrick Fisher so he can perform with his own group Wednesday, Aug. 12 in the Jakomas Blue Top Pavilion, he’s the entertainment coordinator.

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