COLUMBIANA- Columbiana alumni and the general public will have some options for entertainment this weekend, with the first ever Firestone Park Homecoming Race scheduled for Saturday and the 50 Plus Alumni Reunion Sunday, which is also the annual Street Fair weekend.
The 5K race is open to all, but coordinator Crystal Siembida-Boggs is hoping it will also draw a crowd from alumni.
"Many area high schools have their class reunions (then) so race organizers hope these classes will enter teams for bragging rights, as well as for commemorative dog tags to be given to all participants," Boggs said in a press release announcing the race.
The race will benefit the city's Restoration, Renovation and Beautification (RR&B) Committee's Firestone Park Restoration project. The course is the same as the Visions for Veterans 5K race, and will be scored individually, as well as cross country style for teams of five or more.
Runners will have the opportunity to participate alongside celebrity runners and walkers like Harvey Lewis, who finished first in the 2014 Badwater 135 ultra-marathon at Death Valley, doing 135 miles in less than 24 hours, according to the release.
Matthew Garrod, who ran 116 miles for first place honors in "A Day for the KIA's" 24-hour race at the Oval at Ohio State University earlier this spring, also ran alongside Lewis in the ultra-marathon, and will be participating in the Firestone 5K.
His daughter, Ava Garrod, 5, will also be participating. She finished her first marathon in Cincinnati, doing one mile a day for 25 days.
Others are Christian Largo, 15, a para-athlete in weight lifting and wheelchair basketball, and Larry Kannal, 75, of Kent, who graduated from Fairfield High School and starred on the basketball team.
Columbiana alumni with celebrity race status already signed up for the 5K are Rich Berryman, who will start the race, and Steph Case, Dave Bailey and Dale Murphy, Boggs said in the release.
The race will also feature a reception honoring Melvin E. Newlin, a 1966 Wellsville High School graduate and U.S. Marine killed in action on July 4, 1967, and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
His brothers Joe and Bob Newlin and sister, Mary Crago, will attend the reception.
Online registration can be found at www.SandBFoundation.org, or early registration is available from 3 to 7 p.m. the evening before the race at The Dutch Village Inn. Registration will also be held from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. the day of the race at Pavilion no. 1.
Cash prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place individuals in both male and female categories, and top three finishers aged 40 and over and grandmaster's, aged 50 and over divisions.
Top three finishers will be awarded medals in the remaining categories.
More information about the race can be obtained by calling Boggs at 330-482-9105 or Dave Garrod at 740-593-5284.
Vaughn Musser, a trustee of the RR&B Committee and president of the 50 Plus Alumni Reunion said the alumni has added something new to their annual event, scheduled for noon Sept. 7 in the Columbiana High School Commons.
"Some of us were thinking about getting a speaker just to make a 15 or 20 minute presentation from someone who graduated from Columbiana for 50 years or more. I contacted Tom (Mackall) because he is a graduate of Columbiana High School and I know people are very interested in the projects that he is working on to complement or benefit Columbiana," she said.
Mackall is moving forward with a major development project along state Routes 7 and 14 in Columbiana through his corporation, Firestone Homestead LLC. It consists of two parts, a Town Center and Marketplace, with the Town Center planned to be a depiction of the way Columbiana was when Harvey S. Firestone lived there.
Musser said Mackall's knowledge of Firestone is what drew her to ask him to speak at the banquet. He will not be speaking about his project, but sharing that knowledge, she said.
"Harvey Firestone brought Thomas Edison and Henry Ford to Columbiana, and they used to meet out at the homestead. My father told me that he actually flew the plane that brought these two gentlemen to Columbiana. I've always been fascinated by the fact that Columbiana was the meeting site for such great minds and men who did so much for the industrialization of the United States," she said.
Mackall had spoken about Firestone and his friendship with the two presidents at a recent Columbiana Area Chamber of Commerce Breakfast attended by RR&B committee member Pat Tingle.
"(She) told me what a great job he did," she said.
The homestead is the two-story house across from the Columbiana Maze Craze, which now has a new location. Mackall purchased the home through Firestone Homestead LLC earlier this year, and it will be an office for the new development.
Reservations for the alumni banquet can be made by contacting Jack Dowd at 330-482-3630. Brian Brown, who graduated in 2003, will also be providing an update on the Alumni and Friends Scholarship.