Ledgemont's a big family. Jared YoungI love helping people. Josh Fanti
“I love helping people,” Leroy Township resident Josh Fanti said as he doled out some chicken.
“Me, too,” added his grandmother, Doris West.
“It’s a great event,” chimed in Barbara Townsend, another volunteer, manning the pulled-pork station as the sun shone overhead.
“Fellowship, working together,” she added.
The three Grace Lutheran Church members celebrated their annual BBQ dinner at the Fourth of July celebration on Thompson Square last Friday. The event has been held for at least 30 years, said Deacon Bill Karnosh.
“It’s a great community event,” said Karnosh, who has been a deacon for many years. “It is part of our outreach program in our church.”
Dine-in and carry-out options were available, as well as baked goods and soda, sold by the women’s auxiliary and youth group .
Pastor Don Coulter leads the church, which began in 1955. It currently has about 300 members, although roughly 80 members attend weekly.
“It’s important we do events like this,” Coulter said as he and Karnosh collected meal tickets. “It gets us out into the community. We look at this as a service, helping others.”
The pastor said about 30 volunteers worked the booth.
Grace Lutheran Church is part of a segment of the Lutheran denomination known as the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. With 2.3 million members, the LCMS is the eighth-largest Protestant denomination and the second-largest Lutheran body in the U.S. after the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, according to the synod’s website.
Karen Pollari, of Middlefield Village, said last week’s celebration was like a homecoming for her. She graduated from Thompson not Ledgemont High School and has fond memories of the area.
“I love it here,” Pollari said as she walked around and talked to patrons.
Meanwhile, Montville resident Barb Townsend said she loved helping out by visiting with community members that came up to purchase food.
“It’s great just talking with them,” said Townsend, another Thompson graduate.
Fanti, nearby, said he felt serving others at the barbecue was doing God’s work and loved being part of the church.
Around the square, the community celebrated America’s birthday by visiting vendors, displays and participating in a fundraiser for Ledgemont High School’s football team.
Fifth-year head coach Joe LaRosa said, thanks to the help of assistant coach Jack Young, the football team acquired a late-1990s-era Chrysler minivan and painted it the colors of the team’s upcoming rivals.
Festival-goers could contribute and take out their frustrations on the opposing team by hitting the car. The football team also sold last year’s jerseys to raise money, LaRosa said.
“It’s a good way to build team spirit,” said LaRosa, who has coached football for a decade. “We’re looking at going to the playoffs this year, and we’re appreciative of the community’s support.”
The team will also hold car washes on Saturdays from July 12 through the start of football season from 8 a.m. to noon at the town square. LaRosa said.
Young’s son, Jared, is an incoming junior running back. He spoke of the importance of the fundraiser and of the festivities in general.
“Ledgemont’s a big family,” Jared said. “Everyone here is welcoming and knows each other.”
Later that day, Rick Loveland Jr. and his family explained their unique float, which contained a heart that said “I love you, America.”
He, his father, Rick Loveland Sr., as well as members of the Conklin family visited and participated in the annual parade.?
The parade contained floats and fire engines from nearby municipalities, Rick Loveland Sr. said.
“It took me over two hours to make,”?Rick Jr. said, laughing about putting it together. “The ‘I love you’ balloon was a Valentine’s Day decoration. The Jefferson one on the side? That was from Halloween.”
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