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Overly’s Country Christmas lights at Westmoreland Fairgrounds get shiny new addition

Tribune-Review
| Tuesday, November 18, 2014 9:20 p.m
ptrLIVoverlys4111914
Rebecca Emanuele | TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Westmoreland County Community College Student Travis Liston of Dunbar balances inside of a 22-foot snowman sculpture, while bolting on the snowman's arms. The sculpture made by welding students of WCCC was assembled on site under the supervision of (not pictured) welding instructor Ben Bilott, at Overly's Country Christmas, Westmoreland Fairgrounds, Monday morning, November 17, 2014.
ptrLIVoverlys2111914
Rebecca Emanuele | TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Westmoreland County Community College student Jon Mullin of Latrobe tightens bolts, inside of a 22-foot snowman sculpture as fellow students look on. The sculpture made by welding students of WCCC was assembled on site under the supervision of (not pictured) welding instructor Ben Bilott on Monday, November 17, 2014, at Overly's Country Christmas, Westmoreland Fairgrounds.
ptrLIVoverlys3111914
Rebecca Emanuele | TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Ben Bilott (center), welding instructor at Westmoreland County Community College, supervises as the 22-foot snowman sculpture made by the welding students of WCCC was assembled on site, at Overly's Country Christmas, Westmoreland Fairgrounds, Monday, November 17, 2014.
mpjlooverlys112014
Kelly Vernon | TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Westmoreland County Community College welding students Ted Black of Stahlstown (left); Trevor Lilja of Monroeville (center); and Ed Hurley of Saltsburg (foreground) unload an aluminum snowman for display Monday at Overly’s Country Christmas at Westmoreland Fairgrounds in Mt. Pleasant Township.
ptrLIVoverlys4111914
Rebecca Emanuele | TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Westmoreland County Community College Student Travis Liston of Dunbar balances inside of a 22-foot snowman sculpture, while bolting on the snowman's arms. The sculpture made by welding students of WCCC was assembled on site under the supervision of (not pictured) welding instructor Ben Bilott, at Overly's Country Christmas, Westmoreland Fairgrounds, Monday morning, November 17, 2014.
ptrLIVoverlys2111914
Rebecca Emanuele | TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Westmoreland County Community College student Jon Mullin of Latrobe tightens bolts, inside of a 22-foot snowman sculpture as fellow students look on. The sculpture made by welding students of WCCC was assembled on site under the supervision of (not pictured) welding instructor Ben Bilott on Monday, November 17, 2014, at Overly's Country Christmas, Westmoreland Fairgrounds.
ptrLIVoverlys3111914
Rebecca Emanuele | TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Ben Bilott (center), welding instructor at Westmoreland County Community College, supervises as the 22-foot snowman sculpture made by the welding students of WCCC was assembled on site, at Overly's Country Christmas, Westmoreland Fairgrounds, Monday, November 17, 2014.
mpjlooverlys112014
Kelly Vernon | TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Westmoreland County Community College welding students Ted Black of Stahlstown (left); Trevor Lilja of Monroeville (center); and Ed Hurley of Saltsburg (foreground) unload an aluminum snowman for display Monday at Overly’s Country Christmas at Westmoreland Fairgrounds in Mt. Pleasant Township.

Stephanie Tomasic, executive director of Overly’s Country Christmas, has long dreamed of adding a metal sculpture garden to the organization’s annual light display at the Westmoreland Fairgrounds near Greensburg. This year, her wish began to come true as welding students from Westmoreland County Community College created an enormous tubular aluminum snowman that will join the display just in time for its Nov. 21 opening day.

The project came about after Tomasic visited WCCC this past spring and noticed an impressive metal sculpture in the lobby. She contacted the school’s welding instructor, Ben Bilott, and asked if his students could create something similar for the Christmas display. Bilott was happy to oblige. “I thought it was a great idea,” he says.

Bilott received approval from the school administration to carry out the request as a club project for the school’s American Welding Society Student Chapter. After that, he handed the project over to the students.

“I gave them carte blanche for the design and the materials they would need,” he says. “I tried to let it be truly a student project. They deserve all the accolades.”

The snowman is over 15 feet tall and weighs half a ton. It is made of about 2,000 feet of 1-inch diameter aluminum tubing made by Samuel & Son Co. of Scottdale. The Elliott Group donated funds to make the snowman a reality.

“It all came together so quickly,” Tomasic says. “It’s so nice to have so much community involvement.”

The fabrication of the snowman was challenging and rewarding for the students.

“They had to manage this just like a real-world project,” Bilott says. “In the end, this is going to be a good experience for them.”

He credits club president Ted Black for organizing and managing the project. The entire process lasted about six weeks from the first day of work to the Nov. 17 delivery date.

“We appreciate the opportunity to be involved,” Bilott says. “It’s for a great cause.”

Proceeds from the light display benefit numerous community outreach programs for children and families.

The snowman will be set up near the bonfire at the heart of Christmas Village. “It’s going to be pretty impressive,” Tomasic says. The sculpture will be lit with LED spotlights and will reflect the bonfire and surrounding lights.

Additional innovations at Overly’s this year include 13 new light forms made by MLP Steel in Scottdale. The children’s play area also will be expanded with new items sponsored by Mr. Water Heater.

“We try to be old-fashioned,” Tomasic says. “Leave your cell phones and stuff at home for a couple of hours.”

Cynthia Bombach Helzel is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

Oglebay lights

Fans of holiday lights also may enjoy a trip to Wheeling, W.Va., to see the 80 large-scale light displays at Oglebay Resort and Conference Center.

The resort’s holiday attractions also include an O-gauge model train display, a laser show and trolley tours several times per evening.

The display is open until Jan. 4, from dark until 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. A one-time per-car donation is requested.

Details: oglebay-resort.com/fol.htm

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