Latrobe, Pa., is a nice little town of 8,338 people not far from Pittsburgh. To football fans, it’s the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp. History and architecture buffs appreciate handsome old churches such as Saint Vincent College’s basilica (shown above), which stands as a beacon over the surrounding fields and subdivisions.
But those attributes are nothing compared to the annual event Latrobe is going bananas to celebrate this weekend: the Great American Banana Split Celebration, touted as “an official homecoming for banana lovers worldwide.” Latrobe is the “birthplace of the banana split,” where the fruit and ice cream confection originated in 1904.
Festivities this year started in July with the Latrobe Art Center’s month-long countdown to August 23. The center is displaying banana-themed art as well as the original soda fountain from Strickler’s Drug Store, where the banana split was born. Its restaurant, The Neighborhood Café, is offering special banana-themed recipes.
This weekend’s events include the unveiling of a banana-split mural and a Pennsylvania state historical marker commemorating the dessert. Festivities continue with a run/walk, a family fair and banana-based baking competition. Among the nostalgic touches: a sock hop, a classic-car display and hula-hoop and limbo contests.
For grownups, there’s a banana daiquiri cocktail hour and a yellow-tie gala “where men will be asked to wear yellow ties and women anything yellow,” according to the city’s website.
The highlight of the whole weekend could come on Sunday, though, with the “world’s first and largest banana peeling flash mob” on the same field at Saint Vincent where the Steelers practice. Fortunately for the players, they’ve already returned to Pittsburgh and therefore won’t have to worry about the potential embarrassment of a banana-peel-related injury.