The Kraft Hockeyville USA events in the area are under way, and there are plenty of fun activities scheduled through Sunday.
The festivities began Sept. 6 with a national anthem contest at the Hard Rock Café in Pittsburgh, with Jordan Walker of Cranberry Township winning.
A Rise Against Hunger event Thursday will take place at the Convocation Center on the campus of California University from 8:45 a.m. until 1 p.m. It is closed to the public as students from Cal and local high schools will be packaging food for the needy.
“I am very happy with how things are coming along,” said Jamison Roth, chairman of the nonprofit Belle Vernon Local Organizing Committee. “Community support has been amazing and has rallied around each other with these activities.”
There will be a private viewing of the Stanley Cup for the students who work the event, but the Cup will be taken around campus on a parade route for the public to see. The route is explained on the school’s website www.calu.edu.
The Cup will then be taken to the Rostraver Ice Garden where there will be a public viewing from noon until 2:30 p.m.
On Friday, a gala will be held at California’s Convocation Center and is sponsored by the Mon Ice Project, a non-profit whose goal is to support local programs in learn to skate and learn to play.
Former NHL star Jeremy Roenick will be master of ceremonies for the casino-themed event and there will be a silent auction.
Tickets are available online and cost $75. They can be purchased at www.moniceproject.org.
A busy Saturday begins with the annual Belle Vernon Area Middle School 5k color run.
Registration begins at 7:30 a.m., the race at 8:30.
“This was a great opportunity for our groups to partner for one race instead of doing two different 5Ks in the community,” said Belle Vernon Middle School principal Greg Zborovancik. “With all of the Hockeyville activities, we were able to line up the Washington Township course so that planners could have full access to the North Belle Vernon Community for the parade and other activities.”
At 10:30 a.m., a parade will take place on Broad Avenue in North Belle Vernon.
“Anyone interested in it can still sign up,” said North Belle Vernon fire chief John Garber. “Setup for the parade is 8:30 and anyone who wants to get into it after 8:30 can.
“My wife, Kim, has been my right hand through this whole thing and we have been told that it will be a Pittsburgh-style parade that could last a few hours, but we are anticipating an hour-and-a-half.”
Following the parade, the Penguins are sponsoring a youth hockey game at the Ice Garden. Penguins game night staff members will be there to provide an NHL atmosphere.
“The Penguins pitched the idea, it is open to the public and everyone thought it would be really cool,” said Roth. “Kudos to the Penguins.”
There also will be a Fun Fair in the parking lot.
On Sunday, the Penguins will arrive at 10:15 a.m. and have a one-hour practice that begins at 11 a.m. before the team will head to the UPMC Lemiuex Sports Complex in Cranberry Township, where it will play the St. Louis Blues in a contest that was originally going to be played at the Ice Garden.
Those who won the lottery for tickets to the game can pick them up at the Ice Garden Wednesday night from 4-9 p.m., Thursday from 3-6 p.m., or Saturday at the Fun Fair from 3-7 p.m.
There will be no will call at the practice or game Sunday.
Despite the game being moved out of Rostraver, Roth pointed out the positives of the entire Hockeyville USA experience.
“The Ice Garden is still receiving the $150,000 grant and the whole community will benefit from it,” he said. “Yes, the game will be played in Cranberry on Sunday, but the upgrades to the Ice Garden will live on for years.
“We truly do thank the corporate sponsors in Kraft, Heinz, the NHL, and the NHLPA as well as the Penguins, who really stepped up.”