Oct. 2—NEW PHILADELPHIA — Saturday's gloomy, rainy weather did little to keep the smiles off the faces of young and old alike that attended the inaugural Schuylkill County Special Olympics Fall Festival.
The event that featured live entertainment, vendors and more was held at the Little League field along Little League Road.
Terri Gibbons, New Philadelphia mayor, said she strives to do things for the community and came up with the idea to benefit Special Olympics.
Gibbons said she took her idea to the New Philadelphia Community Organization, which wholeheartedly approved.
The mayor said she could not think of any organization more deserving of the financial assistance that will come from the festival.
"What a better group to partnership with," Gibbons said.
Along with raising much-needed funds, Gibbons said, the festival gives the public a chance to see how important Special Olympics is and what it offers to those involved.
"Educating the people of the community is a passion of mine," she said. "There is no better way than what we're doing today."
"This is my first mayor event and we hope to do it every year in October," Gibbons said.
Alyssa Eubert, of Pottsville, was at the event with her son, Dylan, 3, and her brother, Kevin Boris, 33, of Saint Clair. Boris is a member of the Schuylkill County Special Olympics Pennsylvania flag football team.
Eubert said the Special Olympics program was the best thing that could have happened for her brother.
"It boosted his morale," she said. "It got him off of the couch, and now he even has friends."
Coming from her brother's football game Saturday, Eubert said the rain didn't deter the three from attending the festival.
"You come out and support the cause, no matter what," she said.
Chris Ebling, program coordinator for Schuylkill County Special Olympics, said the program is a win-win because it gives county athletes a chance to shine and also puts a smile on their faces.
The rain, he said, was not a hinderance.
"It's liquid sunshine. It's not rain," Ebling said.
Ebling said the Schuylkill County Special Oympics program is funded solely through donations, making the festival that much more special.
"We hope this will be the first of many," he said. "Every little bit helps and this will be a big help."
Mark Mamrosh serves as sports leader for the county Special Olympics. He also braved the rain for what he called a worthy cause.
Mamrosh said people from the community will get a chance to learn what Special Olympics is and how it benefits those who participate.
"We're all about awareness so we couldn't ask for anything better," he said.
Mamrosh said a few of the vendors who were scheduled to attend canceled due to the impending forecast.
"We were expecting a hurricane," Mamrosh said of the remnants of Hurricane Ian that pummeled Florida and other southern states.
He said vendors paid $25 for a place under a canopy and also donated a basket of their items for the Chinese auction.
"All of the proceeds, 100%, will go to Special Olympics in Schuylkill County. It all stays here," Mamrosh said.
The rain, he said, will just make the first ever Special Olympics festival more memorable.
"People are showing up. It's all about having fun and a little rain is no big deal," he said.
Live music was provided by bands Good People, Drive Train, Hatter, Bliss and Fallen Pride.
Gibbons said she hopes the festival becomes an October staple in the borough and continues to grow every year.