The Patriotism Behind "Stars and Stripes" Gymnastics Competition - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

The Patriotism Behind "Stars and Stripes" Gymnastics Competition

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More than 1,000 gymnasts from Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio crowded the Bayfront Convention Center on Saturday in day two of the thirteenth "Stars and Stripes" gymnastics invitational.

It's the Erie Gymnastics Center's biggest event to date, all with a patriotic message behind it.

Planning for the center's first competition started in 2001. The details were nearly finalized - location picked and paid, and date (and theme) chosen: the Groundhog Day invitational.

Then, the tragedy of 9/11 struck.

"We thought it was awfully silly to be celebrating a rodent when there were so many heroes from the police, the rescue, the fire workers. We thought those were far more deserving of our gratitude and thanks," said Doug Pershun, director of the Erie Gymnastics Center.

Since then, the competition has been titled "Stars and Stripes." A portion the proceeds from each year's event goes towards an organization that provides public service for the community.

In the past, funds have been donated towards various police departments, fire departments, and VA hospitals. This year, Northwest Pennsylvania's K-9 Search and Rescue team is the selected organization.

Three dogs from the team mingled with all the young gymnasts, who played and posed for pictures with the "officers."

1,400 competitors are on the roster for the 2014 competition, including men's teams for the first time.

The USA-sanctioned invitational continues all day Sunday. Tickets cost $12 for adults and $7 for kids. All police, fire, rescue, and military personnel are admitted free of charge.

 

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