The Great American Banana Split Celebration, an official homecoming for banana lovers worldwide and a celebration of national banana split day, will be hosted by Dole Fresh Fruit, the City of Latrobe, the Latrobe Art Center, Latrobe Community Revitalization Program and Saint Vincent College on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, August 23, 24 and 25 in downtown Latrobe and on the Saint Vincent campus in Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands.
Designed to celebrate Latrobe's unique history as the birthplace of the banana split in 1904 and the placement of a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Historical Marker, the three-day event will be an all-American family celebration for people of all ages.
Dole's Bobby Banana (a 6-foot walk-around banana character) and Valley Dairy's Joe "Ice Cream Joe" Greubel will serve as the honorary co-chairs of the event and participate in the official ceremonies.
If you plan on staying overnight, book your room as soon as possible. Hotels and other accommodations fill up quickly for this festival weekend (view a list of nearby hotels on this page)!
The Latrobe Art Center will be doing a countdown to the celebration until August 23. During the countdown, the center's eatery, The Neighborhood Café, will offer recipes that are made from Dole products. They will also be uploading those recipes onto their Facebook, Website, Twitter, Mailchimp and Pinterest accounts. The Art Center will also be hosting a Dole pre-party on Tuesday, August 20 during its weekly Tunes-Day Evening in the Park that will incorporate the banana split theme in its music, food and décor. As a special attraction, the original soda fountain from Strickler's Drug Store, where the world's first banana split was created, will be displayed in the front window of the Latrobe Art Center. The banana split jelly bean mural, created by 28 children who took part in the Kid's Art Camp utilizing 30 pounds of jelly beans, will also be display. It was sponsored by the Quatrini Rafferty Law Firm.
During the entire month of August, Valley Dairy Restaurants will be offering a special banana split ice cream cone for just $1 at the downtown Latrobe, Rt. 30 Wildcat Commons and nine other restaurant locations. Valley Dairy has also commissioned a special "Latrobe First Banana Split" lapel pin that, in conjunction with the restaurant's 75th anniversary, can be purchased for only 75 cents by anyone who purchases a regular banana split. Others can buy the souvenir pin for $5 at all Valley Dairy restaurants. A banana split mural painted by Gabrielle Nastuck will also go on permanent display at the downtown Latrobe Valley Dairy location.
Official festivities will get underway at 11 am. with a ceremony dedicating the new Pennsylvania state historical marker on Ligonier Street at the site of the original Tassel's Pharmacy which later became Strickler's Drug Store. Special guests at the dedication will be Dole's Bobby Banana, Joe Greubel, and more. Activities will be centered in the downtown area that will be decorated with bunches of banana balloons, yellow ribbons and bows.
A Dole Banana Daiquiri Cocktail Hour will begin at 6 pm at the Quatrini Rafferty Building. Food will be available an hour later at the Yellow Tie Gala sponsored by the Latrobe Art Center which gets underway at 7 pm. The Gala is a special event where men will be asked to wear yellow ties and women anything yellow. Valet parking will be offered and patrons can walk the Yellow Carpet into the Art Center. Ligonier Street will be blocked off for the evening and a DJ playing oldies and taking requests will be located outside for dancing in the street. Other offerings include hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, an edible arrangement featuring Dole® fruit products, a do-it-yourself banana split station and a bananas foster station. Wine, beer, coffee and tea will also be available along with non-alcoholic banana drinks.
The tickets for the Yellow Tie Gala are $35 and you must purchase them in advance. Please RSVP by completing this form before August 16, 2013. The event is only for individuals ages 21 and older. No tickets will be sold at the door.
The morning starts off with a Dole Family Stroll, a fun walk/run through the streets of Latrobe with planned stops at a number of retail outlets which will present gifts to those who get a special card punched. Official Great American Banana Split Celebration t-shirts will be presented to the first 300 participants. Everyone will receive a Dole Banana at the finish line.
The Latrobe Business and Professional Women's Association will be coordinating and hosting a "Banana Ingredient Baking Contest," from 10 am to noon in the Quatrini Rafferty Building.
An old-fashioned family fair will be open from 11 am to 4 pm. It will feature mini banana split sundaes, banana ice cream cones, cotton candy, popcorn, French fries, face painters, caricatures and entertainment.
A car hop will be open from 11 am to 4 pm. It will feature over 50 antique and classic automobiles lined up along the north side of Depot Street.
The popular barbershop quartet Heart ‘n Soul from Somerset will be performing traditional favorites both inside and outside the downtown Latrobe Valley Dairy from 11 am to 2 pm.
A malt shop sock hop dance will keep the fun going from 6 to 9 pm at the Latrobe Art Center for a family fun night out. Ligonier Street will be blocked off and the dance floor will be outside on the streets with a DJ playing both outside and inside.
Happy National Banana Split Day!
On Sunday afternoon, the celebration moves to the Saint Vincent College campus where area residents will join students on the turf at Chuck Noll Field for the world's first and largest banana peeling flash mob. Participants are encouraged to bring a banana but Dole will have bunches on hand for those who don't. The flash mob will take place from 3:45 pm-4:30 pm
The fun concludes in the Robert S. Carey Student Center gymnasium where several do-it-yourself banana split bars will be set up from 4 pm to 6 pm, so that everyone can enjoy an original Latrobe banana split or a more healthy variation, courtesy of Dole Fresh Fruit.
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