Things to look forward to

Some thoughts as we head deeper into July:

¯ There are many events held each year throughout the Tri-State Area that have become staples of the yearly calendar. They’re things that people look forward to year after year.

One of those is the annual Steubenville-Weirton Community Night at PNC Park. Presented by the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times, the annual trip to a Pirates’ game is something area residents begin to talk about almost a year in advance.

This year’s event is scheduled for July 28. The opponent for the 7:05 p.m. game will be the New York Mets. As in the past, the trip is very affordable. For $65, you get an outfield box seat ticket and bus transportation from the Herald-Star parking lot to the North Shore. Each ticket includes $10 of loaded value, which you can use at concession stands inside the stadium.

If you want to drive yourself, tickets cost just $55.

It’s a fireworks night –which means you’ll stay after the game is over and watch one of the magnificent displays Zambelli Fireworks is known for. The pyrotechnic display occurs over the outfield wall, with the skyline of downtown Pittsburgh in the background.

Community Night offers that chance to enjoy a Pirate game with some old friends — and maybe make some new friends in the process.

But if you are thinking of being a part of the group, time is running out.

There aren’t a lot of tickets left. You can call Diana Brown at (740) 283-4711 for information or to reserve you ticket.

¯ Another gathering that people look forward to each year is the annual Community Stars dinner.

It’s an evening that’s set aside each year to honor those people who make a big impact on the community and who never seek any recognition — they are those men and women who do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do.

This year’s nomination process is under way and will run through Aug. 8. If you know of someone who meets that simple criteria, now is the time to get their name and brief description of what makes them a star to us. You can contact City Editor Jody Wisbith for details, or look for the nomination form that regularly appears in our newspapers.

A committee made up of editors and staff members will choose this year’s 10 stars, and they will be honored at a dinner scheduled to be held Sept. 17 at Froehlich’s Classic Corner at the corner of Washington and Fifth streets in Steubenville.

The only stipulation we place on nominees is that they must be a resident of Jefferson or Harrison counties in Ohio, Brooke or Hancock counties in West Virginia or Washington County in Pennsylvania.

Community Stars is a program that has grown steadily since it was started in 1998. Part of the reason for its continued success is the support of Weirton Medical Center, which is returning once again as presenting sponsor, and M&M True Value Hardware, which is providing gift certificates for each of the honorees.

While it’s tough to pinpoint why the program generates so much interest, we’re convinced a big reason is that it recognizes area residents who are willing to work hard to make the region a better place to live.

¯ Meanwhile, it was sad to learn that when the annual fireworks display wrapped up shortly about 10:40 p.m. on June 30, a tradition that has spanned more than two decades likely came to an end as well.

Thunder in Ville, which has come to signify the unofficial start of the area’s Independence Day celebrations, is in real danger of not returning next year, organizer Tom Straka shared in a story that appeared in our July 1 editions. There are many reasons why this year’s two-day festival could have been the last — Straka said it was a combination of factors, including his age, increasingly more difficult fundraising and the need to secure a new venue. He said it was time to retire as committee chairman, and members of his staff have decided to hang it up as well.

Those are problems many organizations are facing not only in our region, but around the country. Fewer people are willing to volunteer to handle the day-to-day work needed to keep events like Thunder in the Ville running. Even fewer are willing to donate their time to help out. And, yes, businesses and individuals are not donating as much money as they have in the past.

Even more troubling is that the event will need to find at least a temporary home for the next couple of years. The Wintersville campus of Indian Creek High School won’t be available while the new high school is being built.

It’s a tough situation for any individual or group to find itself in.

Thunder in the Ville has become recognized as one of the Tri-State Area’s top fireworks festivals, but unless new volunteers can be found to take on the planning, execution and fundraising — as well as being able to find a suitable location — it’s likely the thunder will be silenced.

And that would mean there would be one fewer event for area residents to look forward to.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)