Johnstown has held a holiday parade for two decades, but it wasn’t until Melissa Radovanic joined the Discover Johnstown Partnership that it really began to “light up.”
“I said to the group that I wanted us to be known for something and that we were going to have a name for ourselves,” said Radovanic, who was elected president of the volunteer organization three years ago.
Radovanic spearheaded a fundraising effort to put a Christmas tree in a downtown park last year, raising $80,000. After raising the money, a tradition was born and now a 36-foot-tall tree covered in lights sparkles to the tune of holiday music.
“Normally the Light Up Night might attract 300 people,” Radovanic said. “There were a couple thousand people in Central Park that night.”
In addition to the holiday event, the partnership also sponsors a cleanup day, window painting and an Easter egg hunt.
“We will certainly always be known for Christmas, that’s definitely what we are always going to hang our hat on,” Radovanic said. “But we are a 12-month-a-year organization.”
Johnstown Mayor Frank Janakovic praised Radovanic for her work. He said the tree has been a great draw for the city and the other efforts have helped to improve Johnstown’s image.
A life-long Johnstown resident, Radovanic said she once dreamed of moving to “the big city,” but came to appreciate all her hometown had to offer. While raising the next generation of Johnstowners, Radovanic said she and her husband hope to inspire their own children to volunteer in the community too.
“We are very involved in all the kids’ sports and extracurricular activities because we owe it to the community and our organizations to do that,” she said.