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