Irish pub begins celebration

Donating to and seeing children at St. Jude Children’s Hospital opened Chelsy Skalada’s eyes — and motivated her to give up all of her hair.

“I told myself that I’d do anything to help find a cure” for childhood cancers, the Austintown woman said after having all her hair shaved off during Saturday’s sixth annual Pre-St. Patty’s Day Bash at O’Donold’s Irish Pub & Grille in the Austintown Plaza on Mahoning Avenue.

The all-day event also featured 30- to 45-minute sets from 17 local and regional bands that played a variety of hip-hop, rock ’n’ roll, reggae and alternative music inside the eatery or in a heated outdoor tent in the parking lot.

Skalada was one of at least 30 people who volunteered to shed their hair to raise money for the Pasadena, Calif.-based St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a 12-year-old volunteer-driven charity dedicated to funding research to find cures for childhood cancers and giving survivors long, healthy lives. A goal of Saturday’s gathering was to raise $30,000 for the organization, noted Christian Rinehart, O’Donold’s owner.

St. Baldrick‘s is the second-largest funding source for childhood cancer-research grants, according to its website.

Watching children struggle with the disease was primarily what spurred her to participate in Saturday’s event, said Skalada, who works at Goodwill Industries Inc. in Austintown and who came with her mother, Ruth D’Amico.

Also taking a seat in one of two barber chairs just outside the eatery to lose

all of her long, blond hair was Monica Rich of Austintown, the mother of five children age 3 months to 12 years.

“I thought this was something good I could do,” explained Rich, adding that she has a friend with a child who has cancer.

Rich said she was nervous but excited to have her head shaved for the first time.

Those who had their hair removed walked away with green buttons that read, “Ask why I’m bald.”

Many performers also were happy to support St. Baldrick’s, including Chuck Shaffer, one of four members of Particle 17, which was one of the gathering’s 17 bands.

“Our music is kind of funky and friendly on the ears. We try to keep people moving and dancing,” said Shaffer, who described his band’s style as “funky rock.”

Particle 17 formed last August and is made up of former members of other area groups, noted Shaffer, adding that he also wants to promote the local music scene.

Another relatively new band was Pilot the Mind, which formed just over two years ago, said Paco, who plays guitar and keyboards with the three-piece group.

The band, which specializes in “alternative, progressive, experimental rock” and plays a lot of instrumental music, gets its sound by fusing members’ interests in astronomy and art, perceptions of life and interpretations of many of life’s changes, as well as cause and effect, Paco explained.

Pilot the Mind also hopes to more firmly establish itself as part of Youngs-town’s entertainment scene, added David Mauerman, drummer.

The third member is Chris Krejci, who handles vocals, bass guitar and piano.

Saturday’s Pre-St. Patty’s Day event also had a basket auction and was a prelude for O’Donold’s annual St. Patrick’s Day gathering, which will be from 5:30 a.m. Saturday to 2:30 a.m. next Sunday, Rinehart noted.

That event will feature traditional Irish food and music, step dancers and bagpipe players and will benefit Hospice of the Valley, he said, adding that an estimated 61,000 people attended last year’s festivities.

Also on hand, Rinehart said, will be an estimated 20 designated drivers from DD 4 Hire of Boardman.

Source: Sean Barron,


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