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Up to 10,000 visitors expected to attend upcoming Vandergrift events

August 12, 2018

Vandergrift is about to get crowded.

The borough is expected to be inundated with between 5,000 and 10,000 people for its annual Festa Italiana di Vandergrift as well as the Western Pennsylvania Firemen’s Convention the weekend of Aug. 11 and Aug. 12.

The Western Pennsylvania Firemen’s Convention is being hosted by Vandergrift Fire Department No. 2. It begins Aug. 9 and will run through Aug. 15.

Festa Italiana di Vandergrift takes place Aug. 12 from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Despite the large number of people expected, No. 2 Chief Steve Potoka, who is also the borough’s emergency management coordinator, doesn’t expect the crowd to cause too many issues for residents.

He said extra police and EMS units will be out and neighboring emergency services will be assisting the borough.

He said the only time any streets will be closed is for the firemen’s parade on Aug. 11 and during the Festa on Aug. 12.

“It shouldn’t cause an issue,” he said.

Borough Secretary Steve DelleDonne said the borough isn’t expecting any issues.

“The more, the merrier,” he said.

Mayor Barbara Turiak said the borough is ready for events.

“All I can say is that we will do the very best with any situation that arises,” she said. “I think we’re very much prepared.”

Turiak said she’s ready to welcome all of the new faces to town.

“We’re very excited,” she said.

Potoka said this is the first year Vandergrift has hosted the convention since the 1960s.

He’s glad to be able to show off the borough to up to 5,000 firemen from across Western Pennsylvania.

Potoka said the convention is a year-end celebration for firemen, a way to recognize outstanding members and a fundraising opportunity for the fire department.

Much of the convention’s events will be held at a “tent city” that will be located at the fire department’s 27-acre property at the end of Longfellow Street Extension.

Potoka said the two events weren’t intended to be on the same weekend, but it just happened that way, and neither could be rescheduled.

“We tried to move it, we tried to juggle it around,” he said. “We just had to make it work.”

Events open to the public include a cornhole tournament and car cruise on Aug. 10, a Battle of the Barrel and parade on Aug. 11 and a memorial service Aug. 12.

“We’re there to make money for ourselves, have a good time for the community, show them that the fireman care and see what the fireman are all about,” Potoka said.

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