The Characters

The Characters, of Windber, will play for Roxbury Bandshell Preservation Alliance’s Fat Friday fundraiser on Feb. 21, 2020, at Richland Township Fire Department’s banquet hall on Scalp Avenue.

A piece of the Big Easy is coming to Johnstown.

Roxbury Bandshell Preservation Alliance will host its 14th annual Mardi Gras-themed Fat Friday fundraiser Feb. 21 at Richland Township Fire Department’s banquet hall, 1321 Scalp Ave., Johnstown.

Doors open at 6 p.m. A catered dinner provided by Flair of Country will follow at 6:45 p.m.

Organizers call the event Fat Friday – a spin-off Fat Tuesday – because the local event is held prior to the start of the Lenten season.

Fat Tuesday is traditionally the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Christian observance of Lent.

“This is our major fundraiser of the year,” said Mary Borkow, alliance president.

“We want to do something unique and interesting that’s a casual, nonformal event that would be fun while also raising money for the Roxbury Bandshell restoration. People just have a good time meeting up with their friends and enjoying a wonderful dinner.”

Because the event has a Mardi Gras theme, attendees will receive Mardi Gras beads when they arrive.

“We encourage anyone who wants to dress in a Mardi Gras theme to do so,” Borkow said.

The $100 tickets include dinner, open bar and an opportunity to win a number of prizes, including $10,000 on a reverse raffle.

The $30 tickets include dinner, open bar and a chance at a variety of door prizes.

The event will also feature a 50/50, pull-tab gambling tickets and a prize every time game as well as additional raffle games, where attendees can win cash prizes.

“Every year we try to shake it up with the games to make it more interesting for people,” Borkow said.

“It’s all about having fun.”

Dance music will be provided by the Windber-based band The Characters, specializing in rock ’n’ roll,

blues, country, folk and Americana music.

“They play a little bit of everything and they play to suit any audience and take requests,” Borkow said.

“They have a rather large following, so we’re excited about having them.”

Proceeds will go toward restoration of the Roxbury Bandshell.

To date, $500,000 has been invested in the restoration project.

“We finished several months ago with the exterior lighting project on the bandshell,” Borkow said.

“This year, we are working on the interior and we’d like to spruce it up so eventually we will be able to host gatherings. There’s a lot to do to get it up to code.”

In addition, plans are in the works to install a seasonal canopy over the bandshell stage area to protect performers from the rain and sun.

Funds also will be used for the ongoing maintenance of the bandshell.

Last year’s sold-out event attracted nearly 500 people.

“It’s very impressive and it has exceeded my expectations that so many people in our area view this project as important to preserve this historical monument for future generations,” Borkow said.

“It’s so important to preserve the bandshell because it’s part of Johns-town’s history.”

This year, Jerry Zahorchak will serve as master of ceremonies. Dan and Sue Heller, of Windber, will once again co-chair the fundraiser.

The Fat Friday fundraiser event is being dedicated to the late Luke Speicher, who in 2005 paid off the $20,000 bond on the bandshell, stopping its demolition.

It’s recommended that tickets be purchased in advance by calling 814-509-6623.

If tickets are still available, they will be sold at the door.

For more information on the event, visit

Kelly Urban is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. She can be reached at (814) 532-5073. Follow her on Twitter @KellyUrban25.

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