The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

December 13, 2012

WaterFire planners aim to illuminate city

SHARON — Marilyn Fredenburg likes that it will be free. Bob Uhalie thinks it will enhance downtown Sharon. Bob Wilson promises it will be a world-class event.

They are all talking about WaterFire Sharon, the day-long community event centered around the Shenango River that will be lit for the first time Aug. 3.

The idea originated in Providence, R.I., and has grown over 16 years to bring millions of people and millions of dollars to an area already known for its arts community.

While local organizers do not expect the economic impact will be anywhere near what Providence has experienced, they believe people will come from 100 miles away to see WaterFire Sharon, bringing new tourist dollars into the community and bringing the community together.

“The project is especially appealing to me because it will have an economic impact, not only on downtown Sharon, but on our county and region,” Wilson, WaterFire Sharon board chairman, said Wednesday at what was be the first of several public meetings.

At a WaterFire event, fires of pine and cedar logs burn in baskets anchored in a waterway, with music playing, performance artists performing and crowds enjoying flying sparks, reflections on the water, the aroma of the burning wood and the heat of the fires.

“It touches all of your senses,” said Wilson, one of several committee members who have attended WaterFire Providence.

A video of a WaterFire Providence event showed a ritualistic lighting of the braziers, music setting a mood, and a crowd rapt by performing clowns, fire dancers and fire breathers.

The music and performances support the theme of the event, and the mood can range from celebratory to healing, he said.

While the torches are lit at dusk and kept burning until, say, 11:30 p.m., the event lasts all day with an art show and performances and other events during the day.

“It’s definitely needed,” said Fredenburg, of Hartford, who volunteered to help organize the art show. “I think it has great potential.”

Downtown Sharon is a “hidden jewel” and a river-centered event such as WaterFire will draw people to town, she said.

“We need something to revitalize and give us a boost,” Fredenburg said, stressing that the event is free to attend.

“It would be nice to have something fun and different,” she said.

“I believe it will be great,” said Uhalie, of Sharon, also spurred to volunteer. “I’m excited about anything enhancing the city of Sharon, especially culturally, socially, bringing people together.”

The volunteers who work the event become a family as they share their stories and talents toward the goal of bringing off the event, said Jennifer Barborak, committee vice chairman.

“You become one with the event,” she said.

Barborak has volunteered at WaterFire Providence events and knows the workings of the event “like the back of my hand.”

She promised the volunteer training will be on point.

“I will not let anyone flounder and not know what is going on,” she said, calling for people to load boats, light and fuel torches, organize food vendors and design brochures.

Volunteers already have started building the braziers and donations from local companies have greatly reduced the cost to make them, Barborak said.

“This will be a world-class event,” Wilson said. “We must be perfect and thorough.”

The committee is planning to install 50 braziers between Connelly Boulevard and Silver Street for WaterFire events tentatively set for Aug. 3, Sept. 14 and Oct. 12, with the streets closed at the bridges to allow for a figure-eight walking pattern past artist booths and food vendors.

Those food sellers will be from local churches and civic organizations, said committee member Gary Meszaros.

The committee has raised $300,000 in pledges to cover the start-up costs, which include building the braziers, buying a sound system, boats, benches and a boat dock, and training volunteers.

More funds are being sought toward a three-year plan that includes hiring a director, paying licensing fees, installing more benches, promoting the events and holding six in 2014 and 2015.

Information: www.waterfiresharonpa.org Donations can be made to WaterFire Sharon at the Shenango Valley Foundation, 7 W. State St., Sharon 16146.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Prison term upheld for sex offender

    A sex offender challenging a 4- to 8-year prison sentence for a probation violation lost an appeal of that sentence.

    April 23, 2014

  • Man, 24, must register as sex offender for life

    The Ohio man who exposed himself to Sharon girls on their way to school last fall must register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life when he gets out of jail.

    April 23, 2014

  • Man deemed predator – for now

    A former Sharon man was sent to the state prison system Tuesday for corrupting the morals of a teenage girl, but the question of whether his penalties under Megan’s Law will stand could be subject to future legal proceedings.

    April 23, 2014

  • Not even waste will be wasted

    Tom Darby admits he wishes the startup of the anaerobic digestion process at the Hermitage Water Pollution Control Plant had moved along much faster.

    April 23, 2014

  • 3rd Earth Fest draws families to Penn State

    Penn State Shenango’s Earth Fest has become a spring tradition for area residents.
    Families poured into downtown Sharon for the campus’ third annual sustainability celebration.

    April 22, 2014

  • Amish clean Shenango River Volunteers protect Shenango River

    Shenango River Watchers has spent more than a decade working to clean up the Shenango and improve recreational access to its water and banks.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • For many, recycling’s become way of life

    When Pennsylvania mandated curbside recycling for its larger municipalities in 1998 – those with more than 5,000 people – there was grumbling about government interference in the lives of everyday people.

    April 22, 2014

  • Many items can’t be thrown away

    The computer screen in front of you isn’t likely to do you much harm, at least not until it’s tossed in a landfill where the lead-filled components start to leak and eventually find their way into your drinking water, according to Jerry Zona, director of the Lawrence-Mercer County Recycling/Solid Waste department.

    April 22, 2014

  • David Sykes' solar panels Earthworks

    While touring Germany last year, David Sykes spotted solar panels resting in a residential back yard.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Burned using Icy Hot, woman claims

    A Grove City woman has sued Chattem Inc. and Rite Aid of Pennsylvania Inc., alleging she suffered a second-degree chemical burn using one of Chattem’s Icy Hot pain relief products.

    April 21, 2014

  • Family outing Family friendly

    “We’re No. 5’’ isn’t a sports cheer you’ll hear any time soon.
    But considering the lumps the greater area has gotten over the years on economic rankings, it’s an outright victory.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • To demolish or not Tear it down? Fix it up?

    In 2007, Richard D. Givens bought a home at 831 Knobwood Drive in Hermitage for $245,000.
    Today, the city of Hermitage is seeking the demolition of the now-vacant house, arguing the damage from water infiltration makes the structure not worth saving.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • News briefs from April 19, 2014

    April 19, 2014

  • Man admits having child porn

    A Mercer man accused of soliciting and downloading photographs of nude teenage girls pleaded guilty April 8 to sexual abuse of children for possessing child pornography.

    April 19, 2014

  • Police getting new tool to fight crime

    Sharon police working at crime scenes will be putting a powerful new investigative tool to work as soon as next month.

    April 19, 2014