PHILIPSBURG — Community took on special meaning as Heritage Days took over Philipsburg on Wednesday.
The homey festival’s theme is “Celebrate Philipsburg” this year, and the town is celebrating by taking care of those who need a helping hand.
In front of her BioSalon, Jackie Mostyn was manning a booth for a special one-day-only event called “Community of Care, Heartbeat of Hope.” The bright purple that has become automatically associated with miracle child Emily Whitehead, who became a local and Internet phenomenon as she successfully battled cancer, was complemented by an acid green for Brandon Denochick, the West Branch boy fighting for his life.
At the booth, volunteers threaded purple tinsel into little girls’ hair, sold “hair bling” like spangly scrunchies and bejewled headbands, and offered up popcorn and freshly-made cotton candy. Denochick, a baseball fan, will benefit from the raffle of a baseball and bat autographed by Philipsburg’s own St. Louis Cardinal Matt Adams, as well as an original portrait of the former Mountie pitcher.
Mostyn said using the community event for such a charitable purpose just seemed right.
Down the block, at the Osceola Mills Recreation Committee booth, new Clear-Centre Pool manager Morgan Coleman was painting faces. While other fundraisers there — such as a gun raffle, a 50-50 and small games of chance tickets — were going for the pool itself, Coleman and her lifeguards were painting snakes and fairies on kids to raise money for another cause.
Dylan Keith, 19, of Houtzdale, never a strong swimmer, died last week when he drowned. As the pool offers swimming lessons this week, the lifeguards decided that raising money for the family at the same time was important.
Maya and Sela Alexander, of Brooklyn, N.Y., saw something special in the community, too. They brought their traveling art experience to Heritage Days, giving kids the chance to express themselves through painting jungle animal masks.
Maya Alexander said they see an appreciation for the arts in Philipsburg.
“We love seeing parents sit down with their kids to paint, not rushing them through to get on to the next thing,” she said. “You can tell that these are people who love art.”