By Joy Leiker
Herald Staff Writer
Typically, screaming and jumping up and down in the hallways of Sharpsville Area Elementary isn’t allowed.
But the rules were meant to be broken Friday, as students and staff welcomed “Sharpsville’s royal couple,” Andy and Sarah Barabas. The two were married on live TV after winning the 2012 WFMJ Today Wedding.
The early morning wedding – their vows were sealed with a kiss before the 7 a.m. start of The Today Show – gave the bride and groom time afterward to come to school, where the former Sarah Stewart has worked the past four years.
“I felt like we owed it to them,” Sarah said of the students. “They asked me a million questions a day.”
So the Barabases, and their parents and wedding party, came to school for a parade through the school.
Wedding songs blared through the school speakers and students lined the hallways. Many made signs and cards for the couple, and all cheered and squealed as the bride and groom got closer. Groomsman Dustin Carter egged them on, repeatedly telling the already-hyped-up students “I can’t hear you!”
As one girl waited for the couple to approach, she wiped tears from her eyes. “I’m so happy,” she said with a weepy smile. Her classmates, wearing matching “First Grade Rocks” T-shirts, nearly knocked the bride over as they flocked to hug her.
The excitement had been building for nearly two months. On March 25 Stewart and Barabas learned they had won the TV station’s contest, thanks to receiving the most votes online of the three final couples. After that, there were weekly votes by viewers to pick everything from the flowers and reception menu to the bride’s dress.
All along the way, Sharpsville Elementary was in the couple’s corner, voting for all of the bride’s favorites.
In fact the whole idea of the couple entering the contest started at school. A fellow Title I aide, Rosanne Kish, encouraged them to apply. She went so far as to print the paperwork. “I just have a feeling,” Kish told the bride-to-be.
In the end, it resulted in a wedding with bright, colorful flowers in the art museum and an untraditional cake to match. The bridesmaids wore short coral dresses and walked beside groomsmen in black tuxedos. Somehow, everything still seemed to fit the bride’s personality, mother-of-the-bride Patty Stewart said.
“She added her own touches,” Patty Stewart said.
And while it was a TV wedding, it was just as much a Mercer County event. Barabas, a fork lift operator for T. Bruce Sales in West Middlesex grew up in Greenville, and his parents, David and Muriel Barabas, still live there. Sarah Stewart is a Sharpsville girl, and her parents, Scotty and Patty Stewart, still call the borough home.
Sharpsville’s Borough Manager Ken Robertson, a family friend, officiated the ceremony. A musical talent familiar to most in the Shenango Valley, Mary Beth LoScalzo sang. One hundred friends and family attended the ceremony and reception at Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown.
Because it all happened so early in the day – the bride was up at 1:45 a.m. and at the hair salon with her bridesmaids at 3 a.m. – the stop at school at 11 a.m. was near the end of the day’s official agenda.
Andy Barabas said, “It hasn’t set in yet.”
After a few more photos in Buhl Farm park, Andy Barabas suggested the next order of business: “I’m going to need a nap.”