Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Canonsburg PA’

Perry Como Honored in Hometown of Canonsburg, PA

McD Perry

Mr. C at the height of his career.

Small towns love their heroes, especially when they’re a big star like Perry Como. Canonsburg, PA has never forgotten Perry Como, although the younger generation might not be familiar with his name.

Como statue

This statue of Perry Como can be found at City Hall in Canonsburg.

   At the center of town in front of their City Hall, you’ll find a statue of Perry Como. When it was placed there it sang 24/7 but now it just sings sporadically. Como is dressed casually in his traditional style with slacks and sweater. Just down the street, you’ll find a two million dollar McDonald’s packed with memorabilia from locals who went on to stardom.

   Coming from a large family of ten children, Como was the first to be born in America to his immigrant parents, Pietro and Lucia Como.  He never spoke English until he was in first grade because his parents only spoke their native Italian at home.

   Italians love music so his father purchased an organ for $3 for their home. By the time Perry was three years old, he could play songs on the organ by ear. Pietro had all of his ten children take music lessons even if he could barely afford them since he made a living by working in the mill.

McD Perry the barber

This picture of the young Perry as a barber was found at McDonald’s.

   By the age of ten, young Perry tried to help his family by working after school at Steve Fragapane’s barbershop for fifty cents a week.  By thirteen, he had his own chair at the barbershop even though he had to stand on a box to cut people’s hair.

Como Church

This is the church the Comos were said to have attended.

   At the same time, Perry played trombone in the town’s brass band, played guitar, sang at weddings and was an organist at church. He also was a member of the Canonsburg Italian Band. Throughout his career, “Ava Maria” was his most requested song.

   When he was fourteen, his father had a severe heart condition, and Perry opened his own barbershop.  His goal was to be the best barber in Canonsburg. When customers would marry, they would use every treatment Perry had available in his shop while he sang romantic songs to entertain them.

Como_family_at_home_1955 TV Radio Mirror

This picture of the Como family at home shows a happy family.

   By the time he was twenty, he moved to work in his uncle’s barbershop at Meadville, PA, which was not too far from Cleveland. He went with friends to the Silver Slipper Ballroom, where they asked if anyone would like to come up on stage and perform. His friends urged him to try and director Freddy Carlone offered Perry a contract on the spot.

   But he wanted to talk it over with his father first. Since his father was an amateur baritone, he told Perry to take the chance or he would never know if he could be a professional singer or not. Financially, this was not a good move as his barbershop earned him $125 a week while the singing contract was for $28 a week.

Perry_como_1939_ Ted Weems Orchestra by Bloom

This young Perry Como is pictured when he joined Ted Weem’s Orchestra.

   He received his big break in the 1930s on a popular radio show, Beat the Band. His first recording with Ted Weem’s Orchestra on this show was the song, “You Can’t Pull the Wool Over My Eyes”.

McD Perry's bust

A bronze bust of Mr. C can be found at Canonsburg’s McDonald’s.

In 1943, he signed with RCA Victor and remained with them throughout his career. While in Canonsburg, a stop at McDonald’s is also a ‘star’ event. Here you will find memories of local stars including Perry Como, Bobby Vinton, and The Four Coins. When you pass by Mr. C’s bust,  “Catch a Falling Star” will automatically start playing.

Como golf

Pictures of Perry Como and his love for golf can be found at McDonald’s.

Perry Como loved the game of golf and in 1955 was Golfing Champion of the Garden City Golfing Club in New York. MacGregor even has a Perry Como Putter. When he wasn’t with his family or working, Perry was on the golf course enjoying his favorite hobby and passion.

McD Hit Parade

Inside the front door of McDonald’s, you will find this list of songs made popular by Canonsburg artists.

   Mr. C, as he was nicknamed, sold millions of records and had his own television show. Canonsburg keeps his memory alive through the statue erected in 1999 and McDonald’s memorabilia. If you’re ever in the area and enjoy hearing about the stars, Canonsburg is the place!

Canonsburg, Pennsylvania is located off I-79 at Exit 45 – PA 980/ Canonsburg. Watch for signs to direct you to the various attractions.
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Canonsburg PA McDonald’s Honors Musical Stars

McDonaldsWhen friends suggested a stop at McDonald’s during our visit to Canonsburg, PA, it was difficult to figure out why they insisted on eating here this evening. But once we entered the doors, the sound of popular songs of Perry Como, Bobby Vinton, and The Four Coins filled the air.

   All these local men, who had gone on to become musical legends, were honored here by owner and operator, Ron Galiano. When the old McDonald’s on Bobby Vinton Boulevard needed to be replaced, Galiano wanted the new building to have a local connection. The new two million dollar home-town themed restaurant did just that.

McD Hit Parade

This Hit Parade listing just inside the front door lists the popular singles recorded by Canonsburg artists since 1944.

   Inside the front entrance, they proudly display “The Canonsburg Hit Parade”, which lists songs that have been released by Canonsburg artists from 1944 to 2006.  This is just a sample of over 400 songs that fit that description. This was and still is a musical town.

   Major focus began on Canonsburg’s native sons Perry Como, Bobby Vinton and The Four Coins. Together they had 196 top hits. Canonsburg was proud. The most recent addition has been Jason Walker, who is climbing the pop-dance charts.

McD Perry Photo

Several photos of Perry Como at all ages can be found throughout the restaurant.

   Pierino Ronald Como came from a large family and early in life became a prominent local barber. In the 1940s he joined the popular radio show, Chesterfield Supper Club as a vocalist.

McD Painting by Perry's wife

Perry Como’s wife painted this picture for him.

   Perry had his own television variety show and also appeared in several movies. During his career, he sold over 100 million records. His first big hit, “Till the End of Time”, stayed number one in the charts for eleven weeks in 1945. One of my favorites was “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes”.

 

McD Bobby Vinton

Bobby’s version of “Blue Velvet” hit the charts at No. 1 in 1963

Bobby Vinton was born Stanley Vinton, namesake of his father who was a popular bandleader. When Bobby was 16, he formed his first band. After attending Duquesne University and a short time in the Army, Bobby took his band to Guy Lombardo’s “Talent Scouts”, where he was awarded a contract with Epic Records.

   In the mid- 60s, Bobby even outsold Elvis Presley and therefore has been called the most successful male vocalist of the rock era by Billboard Magazine. His first No. 1 hit was “Roses Are Red”  and later recorded one of my favorites, “My Melody of Love”, which Bobby recorded partially in Polish.  The Polish Prince stopped by McDonald’s to sign autographs on a recent visit to Morgantown, WV.

 

McD Four Coins

In 2003 the group reunited and continue to perform at Doo Wop shows around the country.

   The Four Coins all grew up in Canonsburg as well. They formed a high school band and combined with Bobby Vinton to form the “Band of Tomorrow” orchestra. They were of Greek heritage and began singing as The Four Keys until they discovered that name was already being used by another group.

   They were known for their great harmonies and Doo Wop sound. Their biggest hit was “Shangri-La”, which earned a gold record. They appeared on numerous television shows, movies and toured the world with song.

 

McD Perry's bust

Perry Como received a Grammy Award and five Emmys. He has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

   Bronze busts of Perry Como and Bobby Vinton are situated within. They automatically play songs like “Catch a Falling Star” and “Roses are Red” when customers walk by. There’s a large number of memorabilia on the walls or in showcases donated by or purchased from local residents, collectors, and auctions.

 

McD Bobby Vinton

Billboard Magazine called Bobby Vinton the “all-time most successful love singer of the Rock Era” from 1962 to 1972.

   There’s so much interesting information that it might take several visits to enjoy it all. Check out the many photos, albums, yearbooks, clothing and instruments on display. They have discovered so much memorabilia that exhibits have to be rotated periodically.

 

McD Vinton favorite tux and highschool sax

Bobby’s favorite tux is featured in an enclosed case along with his high school saxophone and a red rose.

   This popular restaurant is located near I-79 so has a lot of traffic in their double-laned drive-thru. But you’ll want to head inside to view this special collection. It’s one of the few McDonald’s where after you place your order, they actually bring the food to your table.

   Sit back and relax over a Big Mac and your favorite soft drink while checking out the memorabilia that will take you on a journey back in time.

McDonald’s in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania can be reached off I-79 at Exit 45 – PA 980/Canonsburg. You are sure to spot the McDonald’s sign off the interstate.  The restaurant is located at  100 Bobby Vinton Blvd.

 

 

Sarris Candies Chocolate Factory and Ice Cream Parlour

Made By Our Family Just For Yours

Sarris Store

Sarris Chocolate Factory occupies an entire city block.

Visiting the Sarris Candies Chocolate Factory is a candy lover’s dream come true. Most adults feel like a kid again in this total candy atmosphere from the ceiling chandeliers to walls covered with candylike themes. Even their handrails look like pieces of licorice.

Frank and Athena Sarris

Athena and Frank Sarris

   Frank Sarris developed this dream after trying to find the perfect gift for his sweetheart, Athena. Frank presented her with a gift to match her sweetness – a box of chocolates. The box he purchased just wasn’t the quality he expected so Frank began making his own chocolates.

Castle

Their 12′ high Chocolate Castle contains 2600 pounds of sweetness at a cost of $130,000.

   Sarris Candies has been on the scene since 1960 when Frank started making chocolates in the basement of their Washington County, Pennsylvania home.  He learned the secret of producing chocolate from a lifelong friend John Macris, the founder of Philadelphia Candies.

Sarris Bear

A friendly bear greets you inside the front door.

   It wasn’t long before the business outgrew their basement and he built a small candy shop next door to their house. Over the years, this company has grown to over 350 employees and $16 million in annual sales.

Sarris Ice Cream

Their Ice Cream Parlour offers all combinations of cool ice cream treats.

Licorice Handrails

Licorice handrails led to their busy ice cream parlour.

    Frank never forgot going to the soda shop or buying penny candy and wanted to incorporate those items into his candy store. In 1982, his son, Bill, helped him create his very own old-fashioned ice cream parlor complete with red and brass booths and crystal chandeliers.

Sarris Odd Fellow Sundae

Sarris’ Odd Fellow Sundae has a chocolate topping, of course.

   People come from miles around to sample homemade Sarris Ice Cream with wonderful toppings. You can select one of their many favorites or design your own sundae.

Sarris Frank's orchid

A painting of Frank’s candy-striped orchid can be found near the Chocolate Castle.

   As a philanthropist, Frank donated to many local organizations and causes. After Frank’s kidney transplant in 2002, their family established the Frank Sarris Outpatient Clinic, which provides pre and post-surgical care to transplant patients. There’s a library named for him and even a candy-striped orchid at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

Sarris Candy Counter

Their candy counter is the perfect place to select your favorite piece of chocolate.

Sarris lights

Even their ceiling is decorated with Candy Land scenery.

   Before Frank’s death in 2010, he arose early each morning, seven days a week, to greet his employees and customers. He cared about his hometown and returned the rewards of his success and good fortune to make it a better place to live. His love for every piece of candy will continue to make the world a sweeter place for years to come.

Sarris Pretzel

Their chocolate covered pretzel is a hometown favorite. Shelves were a little bare when stopping just after Valentines Day.

    Today his son, Bill, continues the legacy of fine chocolates with the help of his mother, Athena, his sister and brother-in-law, and his two daughters. The family chocolate tradition continues with customer favorites being the peanut butter meltaway and their chocolate covered pretzels.

Sarris Lion

Life-sized stuffed animals can be found throughout the store.

   Now the Sarris Chocolate Factory and Ice Cream Parlour in Canonsburg take up the length of a football field. That’s 100 yards of chocolate,  penny candy, ice cream, gifts for every holiday and lifelike plush toys. It’s always great to find a place that contains products made in the USA.

Sarris Candy Truck 2

Their trucks are always ready to deliver products for a fundraiser to your school or organization.

   But it doesn’t stop there, as now Sarris has expanded to over 1,200 locations in over ten states. Their mail order business is very popular as well as their fundraising opportunities for schools and churches.

Sarris Perry Como Statue

This singing statue of Perry Como had laryngitis during a recent visit. Nice to see the town still remembers musical legends from Canonsburg.

   While in town visit the statue of home-town singing barber Perry Como. Stop by McDonald’s where you’ll find walls covered with a tribute to local musical artists Perry Como, Bobby Vinton and the Four Coins.

Sarris stained glass

Decorative stained glass marks the entrance to the Ice Cream Shoppe.

   Be sure to stop at Sarris Candies on your next trip through Canonsburg and surround yourself with the smell and taste of chocolate. It’s more than a candy store!

   The love story of Frank and Athena continues through their candy stores. After one taste, you too will fall in love with Sarris Chocolates.

Sarris Chocolate Factory and Ice Cream Parlour are located just a couple blocks off I-79 at Exit 45 – Canonsburg.  The street address is 511 Adams Avenue. There’s plenty of parking very handy to the store.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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