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'Record crowd' at 25th Annual DuBois Area United Way Wing Fling

DuBOIS — It never rains at the annual DuBois Area United Way Wing Fling and Saturday’s 25th event was no exception.

“Oh my gosh. First of all, what a beautiful day, as it always is,” said United Way Executive Director John “Herm” Suplizio. “It has never rained on the day of the Wing Fling, so all you young brides out there if you’re looking to plan a wedding, plan it on the day of the Wing Fling. It never, ever rains.”

There were so many people at the DuBois Lions’ Sky Lodge Saturday afternoon for the fundraiser that Suplizio said he thought everybody in the City of DuBois was there.

“It was probably our biggest crowd yet,” Suplizio said about the fundraiser that helps the United Way agencies assist the less fortunate of the community and helps defray the cost of the annual campaign.

Eddie Walsh, a United Way board member, agreed.

“Today’s turnout was phenomenal. We got here at a quarter after 11 in the morning and people were already starting to line up,” said Walsh, noting that the Wing Fling started at noon. “We had record crowds. I take the tickets. I’ve worked the front gate for 20 years. Me and Joe Korb and Bubbs Suplizio. They were lined up farther than I’ve ever seen. The 50/50 raffle was substantial. I mean, we didn’t set the all time high, but it was pretty good, raising approximately $700.”

Though they don’t have an exact total of the amount raised Saturday, Walsh said they sold more tickets at the door this year than they’ve ever sold. With a donation of $10, one could eat all the wings, hot dogs and dessert they wished in addition to soft drinks.

“I think the nice weather brought people out in just droves,” Walsh said. “If you want to get married, get married on Wing Fling Day.”

Walsh said the fundraiser usually raises between $7,000 and $10,000 a year for the United Way.

“I look for the figures to be in that area this year, too,” Walsh said.

This year, more than 10,500 wings were donated to the United Way by area businesses, clubs and organizations, Walsh said.

“As you can see by the tubs out there, they’re almost all gone,” Walsh said. “It’s a community event. Anybody that sells wings in DuBois, Brockway and surrounding area, donates to this.”

Howie Allen, who has been a United Way board member for about eight years, said it’s a really great event.

“All of the businesses get to show off their wings or their new recipes,” Allen said. “The one that caught us all off guard was the peanut butter parmesan-flavored wings.”

About the peanut butter wings, attendee Matt Hoyt said, “They were amazing. I enjoyed all the wings, though.”

The co-chairwomen for the 2019 United Way Campaign will be Marla Minns and Bobbie Shaffer.

“You can’t ask for two better people who’ve embodied the entire United Way campaign,” said Allen.

Chase Bamat and his fiancé, Andrea Butler, both of Lock Haven, have been coming to the Wing Fling for about the last three years with local friends.

“It’s excellent and we always enjoy ourselves,” said Bamat. “It’s a great event to give back to the community and helps people at multiple levels.”

SoL Searching: Local studio promotes health and healing

DuBOIS — A local studio is providing a spiritual space for yoga and holistic wellness, as well as faith and a little ‘SoL’ searching.

SoL (Spirit of Love) Wellness and Gathering Space, located at 608 W. DuBois Ave., opened in August of last year, said Owner Lisa Sarick.

Sarick, who has taught yoga for about 15 years, is a woman of many trades — she is not only a business owner and yoga instructor, but a life coach, spiritual guide, interfaith minister and nonprofit organization founder.

The studio is meant to “give off a relaxed vibe,” with different scents and sights filling your senses as soon as you walk in. There are murals on the wall painted by local yoga student and art teacher Robin Craig, candles, flowers and wide open spaces, where people are encouraged to just “go with the flow.”

Workshops or events can be held in the two large open rooms downstairs, such as Christmas parties, baby or bridal showers and even weddings. Sarick aims to also give people a safe, sacred place for them to hold important life events.

There also are rooms for the massage therapy, life coaching and a reiki practitioner, someone who channels healing energy through their hands. Upstairs is considered the “sanctuary,” where Sarick holds her interfaith Sunday services.

The adult classes range from gentle to intermediate to difficult, and a local physical therapist who teaches deep stretching. There is even a tribal dance class, tai chi and prenatal yoga classes.

“People start to feel better — they smile more, they start to stand taller, they sleep better,” Sarick said of yoga. “It’s about working with your body and being friends with your body.”

SoL encourages people to be open to different tools and possibilities, aiming to help people help themselves. There are no judgements, stigmas or stereotypes, Sarick said.

“You don’t have to be a certain size or shape,” Sarick said. “Come how you are. We work with you as you are. Self love is our goal.”

The children’s yoga classes teach them how to focus and relax, but also let them have fun doing animal movements and expending extra energy. Parents and children can both take yoga classes at the same time in different areas of the studio.

Yoga is just as mental and spiritual as it physical, Sarick said. Sometimes, people are so busy that they barely realize things that are going on inside of them, until they stop and breathe.

“Yoga is about feeling your feelings and self acceptance,” she said. “One of the most important things we’re not dealing with is our mind, and that’s how we find peace — through yoga and meditation.”

SoL can be for anyone looking for a variety of different outlets, Sarick said, from someone just looking to slow down to a person looking for spiritual guidance or healing.

Passionate students also “donate” yoga classes, so that everyone can afford to try one, Sarick said. There is a wall of sticky notes, each representing a donated class, on the wall.

Sarick, who moved here from Saracuse, New York, was previously a fitness instructor. She has been well received by the local community, meeting people interested in healing and holistic nutrition.

Things like life coaching and yoga go hand in hand with one another, since one of yoga’s major lessons is to teach self love and relaxation — two things Sarick often speaks of in her Sunday services.

Life coaching helps people work on letting go of old habits, beliefs, traumas or stresses, just like yoga and mediation focus on the release of bad energy, she said.

“When people come and leave here, they have a different feeling,” Sarick said. “The intent is to find a way to live with more peace.”

SoL will be hosting a “Yoga in the Wilds” festival Aug. 25-26 at the Flying Dove Ranch in Ridgway, offering free workshops, outdoor yoga, Reiki, PA Wilds teachers, healers and experts, meditation instruction, aromatherapy, local vendors and artists and more. For more information, visit

For more on SoL Space, visit or the Facebook page.

File photo by Chris Wechtenhiser 

The DuBois Dream’s Albert Varacallo (31) pulls up for a shot against Providence during a game last season. Varacallo and the Dream are set to begin season No. 2 on Saturday after undergoing some major changes in the offseason.

Punxsutawney Groundhog Festival wraps up 52 years of success

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Last week marked 52 years of success and community togetherness for the town of Punxsutawney and all its fans.

The 7-day-long Groundhog Festival wrapped up on Saturday with performances by Steeltown Cowboy and Jeff Krick Jr. & The Spinouts.

Throughout the on-and-off rain and shine, organizers say everyone had a good time. The longstanding traditional event still brought in thousands of people to see Punxsutawney Phil’s famous hometown.

Punxstuawney Phil himself was seen dancing around the Barclay Square Memorial Park stage many days throughout the week, dressed in his “Festive Phil” shirt, of course, while also stopping frequently to take pictures with fans.

Children enjoyed face painting, balloon animals, cotton candy and everything else a festival offers.

Each year, the festival includes many things — fireworks on the Fourth of July, several musical groups and daily performances, and almost 80 food and street vendors.

Groundhog Festival Committee members also gear many of the events toward children, including an adorable diaper derby, tractor pull, scooter races and youth entertainment bands.

The festival first began in 1966, featuring a safe environment for families to enjoy a variety of entertainment outlets. It has since become a tourist attraction and community-wide celebration, said Festival Committee General Chairman Roger Steele. It’s also a way for local groups, businesses and organizations to come together and support one another.

Steele says this event wouldn’t be possible without such a dedicated and passionate festival committee and ongoing community support that began months ago to bring this year’s event to fruition.

In just a few months, the committee will begin meeting and planning for next year’s festivities, and the cycle will begin all over again — and organizers wouldn’t have it any other way.

Body of missing DuBois angler found Saturday

PATTON — The body of a DuBois man, missing since June 22 after a day of fishing at Prince Gallitzin State Park, was located Saturday.

Park Manager Jessica Lavelua said that the remains of Larry Gontero, 67, of DuBois were found at approximately 5:55 p.m. Saturday near the Beaver Valley Marina.

Lavelua said three dive teams from Murraysville, Monroeville and Shanksville were searching throughout the marina area Saturday. The teams were on their final explorations of the day, she said when state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources personnel, who were providing assistance to the teams, spotted Gontero’s body after it floated to the surface not far from where his boat was located on June 22.

She said Cambria County Coroner Jeff Lees was called Saturday to identify the body. She said Lees acknowledged Gontero and said he believes he died from a cardiac event. An autopsy will be conducted.

Gontero’s boat was found idling at Beaver Valley Marina by a park ranger late in the day on June 22. His vehicle was found nearby but he was unable to be located in the area. He was also reported missing by his wife.

Numerous search teams and volunteers combed the grounds around the 1,635-acre lake and its 26 miles of shoreline popular for fishing, boating and recreation.

Lavelua thanked the many emergency service units and volunteers that participated in the 16-day search.

“We are overwhelmed and grateful for the many dive teams, emergency response companies, individuals that volunteered as well as the many people and business that donated food. Mr. Gontero’s family and friends have been very good to work with and have been very understanding through this entire effort.”

Submitted photo