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Bellaire natives share Italian-American honor

July 25, 2013
CASEY JUNKINS - For The Times Leader , Times Leader

WHEELING - Because of a tie vote by Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival board members, Bellaire natives Gilda Reed and Dr. John DeBlasis are co-Italian-American of the Year for 2013.

"Growing up in south Bellaire back then, if you weren't an Italian, we made you one," Reed said while accepting her award during the festival's Wednesday kickoff dinner. "I am thrilled to be an Italian-American."

DeBlasis, a physical therapist at Wheeling Hospital, said he owes his success to the work ethic his father gave him as a young man.

"My father was a great motivator, and any work ethic I have is a direct result of his tutelage," DeBlasis said.

Also recognized Wednesday for their contributions to the festival during its 31 years were former Chairman Robert Gaudio and former Chairwoman Kathleen Fantazzi.

Although the menu Wednesday focused on pork, chicken and potatoes, those looking to eat at the festival will be able to find anything from giant meatballs to elephant ears. Opening ceremonies for the event that is free to attend are set for noon Friday at Wheeling's Heritage Port.

There will be live music and entertainment throughout the weekend, with much of this activity taking place at the Heritage Port Stage. However, the stage will officially be known this weekend as the Williams Energy Stage, thanks to a $10,000 donation from the Tulsa, Okla.-based natural gas processing company.

During a special reception at West Virginia Northern Community College earlier this year, Williams Strategic Outreach Coordinator Scott Carney presented the donation to Festival President Marian Grubor, emphasizing the company's commitment to the community.

In addition to the traditional festival activities, there will be several new vendors on hand, as well as both mechanical and inflatable rides. The bocce ball tournament will have a new location along Water Street this year after being held close to WesBanco Arena in past years.

Festival entertainment for the weekend is set as follows. Events at the Williams Energy Heritage Port Stage Friday include:

Events set for the Cultural Area Italian Stage Friday include:

Saturday Events

Williams Energy Heritage Port Stage:

Cultural Area Italian Stage:

Sunday Events

Williams Energy Heritage Port Stage:

Cultural Area Italian Stage:



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