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July 15, 2012

Thunder in the City to roar in early August

MEADVILLE — Rain, shine, whatever: For two days early next month, Thunder will roar in downtown Meadville.

And the more people who ride in and come out for that localized event, its forecasters say, all the bigger — and better — it’ll be.

The fourth annual Thunder in the City Car & Bike Show, sponsored by the Meadville-Western Crawford County Chamber of Commerce, comes back to town Aug. 3 and 4, with an array of free events at the city’s Diamond Park and throughout downtown Meadville.

The downtown Thunder stage near the intersection of Water and Chestnut streets will come alive starting at 5 p.m. with the sounds of Necessary Experience and the Breeze Band, according to organizers, and this year’s Friday night kick-off also includes displays by featured local artists and crafters at Diamond Park from 5 to 8. Lang Motors is also hosting a cruise-in starting at 6 at its location (821 Market St.), and fireworks will fill the sky over Thunder with color during a show starting at dusk.

Aug. 4, according to organizers, is a Saturday full of cars, bikes, live music, crafters and artisans and open-market vendors galore from Diamond Park to Market Street. Like last year, once night falls, events will wind down with a free, family-friendly movie in Diamond Park.

Dave Stone, who serves on the event’s planning committee and also owns Mickey’s Central Fire Station bar and restaurant downtown, said Thunder’s organizers have taken cues from other area cities in planning and presenting the event over the past four years. Business community-organized local events like the city of Erie’s Roar on the Shore, for example, “have been very, very successful in bringing commerce to their (respective) areas,” said Stone — and that benefit extends further throughout the region as visitors spend dollars at area businesses all along their ways in and out.

For that reason, “we’re trying to make (Thunder) bigger and better every year,” said Stone. “The whole idea is to bring people to Meadville,” he added, and “the major goal is to bring economic prosperity to the Meadville area.”

And for that weekend, according to some other local business owners, it’s been working.

“It brings people in who really don’t know what Meadville is all about,” said Chipper’s Pub owner Ron Gebhardt. “It showcases the town a little bit,” he added — “how nice and comfortable it is. ... I’d like to see (the city’s business community leaders) do more of these” types of events.

“I’ll be ready,” Gebhardt said.

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The latest proposed expansion plan for the Crawford County Courthouse potentially would eliminate the former Tarr Mansion on Diamond Park to make room for a county administrative building. Should the 1860 mansion be demolished?

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