By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor

Since the creation of the Shinnston Development Authority in 2010, its function has been to promote, develop, and advance the business prosperity and economic welfare of Shinnston.  Its members, however, also recognize the importance of appearance, and since late 2015, one of its focuses has been to raise funding that would be spent on repairs to and updates of the City’s downtown Christmas light displays.

One SDA member Vice-Mayor Pat Kovalck stated, “We feel that the Christmas lights are an expression of the pride we have in our City – something we can give to our citizens, those visiting our businesses and those passing through.”

After being thoroughly examined, it was determined that some of the displays could be repaired; however, others needed to be fully rebuilt and the cost was significant!  A Go Fund Me account was established with a goal of $15,000.  Some donations were made and several local civic organizations, in addition to private donations, were made.  The monetary goal has still not been met, however.

Last year in May, the SDA held a Mystery Dinner Theater event to help with fundraising for the holiday lighting project.  SDA President Jill Fratto said they were pleased with the turnout at last year’s event.

“It was held at the Woman’s Club clubhouse and we had a full house.  Every seat was taken and we felt that if we hosted it again – somewhere with a larger seating capacity – we could do even better,” she said.  “So this year’s Mystery Dinner Theatre will be held at the Shinnston Moose Lodge where we are hoping to have twice the turnout.”

From donations and what funds were raised at last year’s dinner theatre event, SDA had accumulated close to $6,000, which was put towards repairs.  During the holiday season this past December, only a portion of the fixtures (those that needed the least maintenance work) were hung sporadically along Pike Street.  In order for work to continue, more funds must be available.

Bear in mind that the displays were originally purchased 27 years ago, and during the ensuing years, they have suffered from exposure to winter weather conditions and of course age.  Some were cracked, wiring was frayed, and some, it was determined, would require welding repairs and even new control boxes.

“The Shinnston Development Authority remains committed to this project,” Fratto added.  “The upcoming Mystery Dinner Theatre is our big fundraising event of the year and whatever funds we raise will ALL go towards the repairs of more holiday lighting displays.  We will continue until all the lights are in good condition and can once again fully line Pike Street during the holidays.”

Communities, both large and small, know that presenting a pleasing appearance in their business district is important.  Not only is it gratifying for the residents of a community, but it adds to home values and helps attract business investment.

By supporting the SDA’s upcoming Mystery Dinner Theatre, you can enjoy a special evening in fellowship with your community neighbors and at the same time know that you are contributing to the enhancement of the City’s holiday appearance.

The Mystery Dinner Theatre will be held on Friday, May 19th beginning at 6 p.m. at the Shinnston Moose Lodge.  The meal will be catered by Casey’s and the menu will include baked steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad and dessert.  Tickets are $30 per person and include dinner, dessert and the dinner show presented by Vintage Theatre Company.

Jill concluded, “Everyone who attended last year had such a good time and are looking forward to attending again this year.  For those who may never have attended a mystery dinner theatre before, it can best be described as a ‘whodunit’ event that gets the audience involved.  It is very energetic and entertaining and the Vintage Theatre Company truly does an outstanding job with it.  This is a great way to bring our residents together for something that is enjoyable and, at the same time, it contributes to the betterment of our community.”

Tickets should be purchased in advance at the City Administrative Offices located at 40 Main Street.

The GoFundMe account is still up and running as well and taking donations.  Visit   ‘Go Fund Me Shinnston Christmas Lights’ and you can make your donation electronically.  Or you can contribute at the City Building; please make checks payable to the City of Shinnston and be sure to mark “Christmas Lights” on the memo line.

If you plan to attend the Mystery Dinner Theatre, it is advised that you don’t wait too long to purchase tickets.  If the turnout is once again a sellout, there will be no tickets sold at the door!