Gathering at French Creek

Bentley Edwards, 2, and his father, Isaiah Edwards, had it made in the shade at Union City’s Gathering at French Creek on Saturday.

UNION CITY — With a nearly full moon providing the backdrop, the fireworks at Union City’s Gathering at French Creek on Friday turned into a celestial event.

As it turned out, the weather was perfect Friday and Saturday for the ninth annual event that celebrated Union City’s background of being a gathering place along both water and land routes. The event was held on the grounds of the Union City Area School District.

“The fireworks were amazing — they always are,” said Tara Lineman, chairwoman of the festival sponsored by Union City Pride. “Overall, it was a very successful event.”

Kasey Laughery, an eighth-grader at Union City Area Middle-High School, attended the Gathering with her two classmates, Kiri Terrill and Elizabeth Mangol.

“I like hanging out with my friends,” Laughery said, “and I loved the fireworks.”

The borough’s history is what keeps Sandy McGinnett and her husband coming back to the Gathering each year. She spent time in the Union City Area Historical Society’s history tent, inspecting a large map that outlined the borough in 1895. She found the location of her present home on Hemlock Street near French Creek.

“I like to see all the people here and I enjoy seeing the photographs of all the old buildings,” McGinnett said.

Food was also a big part of the event, as vendors lined Academy Drive.

Corvette Morrison stayed busy over the weekend cooking and selling hot food with her family’s business, My Daddy’s Concessions, of Pittsfield.

“Business has been really good,” she said as she served up two sausage sandwiches piled high with onions and peppers and a large order of curly fries.

After years of serving barbecued chicken dinners at the Gathering, the Union City Volunteer Fire Department rented a food trailer and also sold sausage sandwiches.

The rising cost of chicken forced the change, but Tammy Stephens said the strategy worked.

“Things have gone really well,” said Stephens, the department’s vice president. “We bought sausage for the whole weekend, but we sold out on Friday. We had to buy more on Saturday morning.”

Carl Gawlinski of Union City displayed his 1932 Chevrolet at the third annual cruise-in to support the Edward Margie Memorial Scholarship Fund. The classic car originally sold for $490 eight decades ago.

Gawlinski said the scholarship, established to honor longtime Union City wrestling coach Ed Margie, who died in 2012, is a worthwhile cause.

“Ed was nice guy, and this is good way to keep his memory alive,” Gawlinski said. “This helps the kids.”

The Gathering also featured games for kids, craft vendors, live music by local musicians and living history with re-enactors.

WFSN, Union City’s new low-power FM radio station at 96.7, made its first public appearance at the Gathering. The station, operated by the Union City Family Support Center, recorded its “WFSN Fifth-Grade Challenge” in the middle-high school auditorium. The program, a game show that pitted fifth-graders against adults, will be broadcast at a later date.

Randy Hurlburt, a counselor with the support center’s Camp Smile, worked the WFSN’s remote studio at the Gathering.

“The station brings a new experience for the community,” Hurlburt said. “Since the station is open to the community, anybody can do a show. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Hurlburt also is a fan of the Gathering.

“I bring my kids to the festival every year,” he said. “I love the food and the children’s activities.”

Lineman said Union City Pride plans to hold the 10th annual event in 2015.

“We hope people come away with having a good time with their families,” she said. “The festival benefits all the nonprofits that give out scholarships.”

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