The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 27, 2012

On a spirited Saturday, events offer seasonal fun

Randy Griffith

— There was plenty of spirit-filled fun across the region Saturday with plenty of activities on a beautiful fall day.

Many of the events were getting a jump on Halloween, featuring costume parties and themed programs to celebrate the season.

Cambria City may have been Spirit Central with hundreds of ghouls, ghosts, cowboys and superheroes dressed up for the annual Great Pumpkin Masquerade Ball at Ace’s.

“We go all out,” co-owner Laura Matolyak-Neatrour said. “They love that we decorate so much for Halloween. It’s our biggest holiday, along with St. Patrick’s Day.”

Shades of June, Ribbon Grass and YUM kept the huge dance floor filled in an evening that featured costume prizes, specialty drinks and food.

Several band members came in costume.

“Halloween has always been a big time in our family,” Matolyak-Neatrour said. “It is not just for little kids to go trick-or-treating. Let’s all go get some costumes for a good time.”

Across the street at the Venue of Merging Arts, the monthly Blues Gathering performers took on the spirit of experimental/rock musician Tom Waits.

“Since it’s Halloween, why not pretend you’re somebody else,” lead singer Matt Miller said before taking the stage and doing his best Tom Waits-trademark growl.

Halloween also provided the theme for Johns­town Symphony Orchestra’s Spooktacular Concert, with costumed musicians. The annual event is geared toward children, who are also invited to come as they aren’t.

Participants were treated to darker tales of early rail travel during Spirits of the Staple Bend Tunnel. The National Park Service program included a bus ride and walking tour of the tunnel.

Meanwhile, squads from several local schools and gyms raised spirits of a different type at Bishop McCort High School cheerleading competition.

SpiritFest marked the 21st annual competition and featured peewee, elementary, junior high, high school and all-star levels.

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