a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Saturday, August 29, 2009

We can't get enough of these gals

The 2008 Monongahela "calendar girls" made a command appearance this month as bridesmaids in a hippie-themed marriage renewal ceremony to mark the 240th birthday of their city in southwestern Pennsylvania. The event also marked the 40th anniversary of the opening of an unusual riverfront park in the town otherwise known as Mon City.

The following is a story about the event published in the Observer-Reporter newspaper in Washington, Pa.

By Scott Beveridge

MONONGAHELA – The bride wore an orange tie-dyed long dress Sunday to renew her marriage vows and her toenails were painted with flowers to match her hippie style.

Elissa Stein of Monongahela walked down the aisle as her daughter sprinkled white rose pedals to the white gazebo in Monongahela’s Chess Park where she meet her husband, Bill, for the ceremony.

“We loved it,” said Bill Stein, 62, after the event sponsored by the Monongahela Area Chamber of Commerce.

The organization wanted to have a hippie-themed, wedding-type event to mark the 40th birthday of the city’s landmark arena that rises from the banks of the Monongahela River in the nearby downtown.

Elissa Stein, 61, said she volunteered to participate after reading about the plan in the newspaper.

“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t that be fun?’” said Elissa Stein, a welfare supervisor.

Bill Stein, chief executive officer of CLI Corp., wore blue jeans and leather sandals to the affair.

Meanwhile, a group of older women who became local celebrities after posing semi-nude last year for a benefit calendar served as bridesmaids.

They arrived at the park to applause riding in either a 1972 pink Cadillac convertible, classic Volkswagen or 1932 white Model A Ford. One of the women who is in her 70s relied on a walker for the short stroll to the John Moreschi Gazebo.

Monongahela Mayor Bob Kepics carried out the service wearing a black wool tuxedo with tails under a humid sky and the temperature approaching 90 degrees.

A disc jockey then played Sonny & Cher’s signature song from 1965, “I Got You Babe,” as the couple left the gazebo.

“The city was just great,” said Lorys Crisafulli, who organized a number of events over the weekend in honor of the Noble J. Dick Aquatorium.

Built in 1969, it has wooden benches painted to appear like the U.S. Flag and seats more than 3,000 people. It’s about to close to undergo more than $1 million in rehabilitation work.

“This whole town came together for this,” said Crisafulli, one of the “calendar girls” who came to Sunday’s ceremony wearing a cowgirl skirt and colorful hippy beads around her neck.

Nearly 100 people witnessed the ceremony, she said.

Bill and Elissa cut a cake in the park before going to their Monongahela home with their four children and friends for a Champagne toast.

“These people put together a wonderful celebration,” he said.

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