Niagara Gazette — Despite the threat of rain and thunderstorms, residents from both sides of the Erie Canal gathered at noon on Sunday on the Renaissance Bridge to officially kick off the 32nd annual Canal Fest of the Tonawandas.
Representatives from the cities of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda gathered for the opening ceremonies. To start things off, recent North Tonawanda graduate, Marisa Zakes, sang the national anthem and the attention turned to the flag on the west side of the bridge for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Canal Fest President, Larry Denef, took the time to thank each of the people who work hard to not only put the festival together but also those who manage the events that keep things exciting.
"For us Canal Fest is eight days," said North Tonawanda Mayor Robert Ortt. "But for these folks Canal Fest is 365 days. As soon as this Canal Fest is over, they start planning for next year."
After the opening, the winners of the annual Tim Frank Memorial Canal Fest 4-Miler were announced. In the women's section, Kim Vona took the best time with 25 minutes and 11 seconds, and in the men's category, Benjamin Snodgrass came in first, setting a record with a time of 20 minutes and eight seconds.
Then the winners of Saturday evening's Canal Fest Pageant were presented to the crowd, The title of Tiny Princess went to Tonawanda's Peyton Langworthy and the title of Little Princess went to Ella Meierer, also of Tonawanda.
The title of Little Mister went to Anthony Billi, Junior Princess went to Adrianna Warriner, the Teen Princess title was awarded to Alexis Brock and the title of Canal Fest Queen went to Victoria Lyle. All four of these winners are from North Tonawanda.
Next the recipients of the John Rutherford Memorial Scholarship were announced. The North Tonawanda students taking home the $750 scholarship and plaque are Aaron Giambra and Liz Sieracki. The Tonawanda students to receive the award were Jenna Ivancic and Ashlyn Keser.