Blue Streak roller coaster on track to run this year

Momentum is what makes a roller coaster work. It’s also what pushed The Blue Streak roller-coaster-renovation

project into the winner’s circle of the Pepsi Refresh Everything contest.

As a result, the landmark roller coaster at Conneaut Lake Park, Pa. — built in 1938 but sidelined since 2006 — likely will run again this season.

The Blue Streak, along with hundreds of other projects, was in the online contest in August to win $50,000 for its renovation.

It was in first place from just about day one, and when voting ended at midnight Tuesday, it was still in the top spot. The top 10 finishers each get $50,000; all others get nothing.

The project is now considered a finalist. It will undergo a verification process over the next two weeks to ensure that its application met all guidelines and that its project is able to be implemented. That process should be completed around Sept. 20, said Adrienne Caruso of the Pepsi contest.

The Blue Streak finished 15th in the July contest but was automatically rolled over into the August contest because of its strong showing (Pepsi does not reveal vote totals). “We had enough momentum coming from July to get us in an early spot quickly,” said Lisa Rawson, a spokeswoman for the project.

For voter support, the Blue Streak project relied on groups such as the American Coaster Enthusiasts as well as the thousands of people who grew up with the ride. Rawson did some extensive online networking, posting her plea on myriad Facebook pages for class reunions.

“I cant tell you how many hours I spent contacting roller-

coaster groups, carousel groups, all these little pockets that are out there,” she said. “I got one e-mail from the Youngstown area that said, ‘All of my childhood memories of Idora Park are gone, so fight as hard as you can.’

“Idora Park fans, Euclid Beach fans, Chippewa Lakes ... all were sympathetic to our cause because they lost their favorite park and they know how sad it is to drive by where it once was and see it’s now a shopping plaza.”

The Blue Streak has been undergoing renovations all summer (the $50,000 it just won will help pay for the work), and is now just about ready for riders. It is doing test runs this week with sandbags in the train seats, and awaits a final inspection.

Rawson said the rush of winning was incredible. But seeing the Blue Streak trains in motions is even better.

“I was at the park the other day, by the road where you can see just the curve of the Blue Streak because the rest of it is hidden by trees,” she said. “I was standing there waiting. And then all of a sudden I could hear it coming. ... I got goosebumps. Then when I saw [the train] round the bend, I started jumping up and down and hollering. ... It was like I was 10 years old again.”

Plans on drawing board

for Rosetta Stone rebirth

Plans are being formulated to reopen Rosetta Stone, the downtown restaurant-nightspot that closed abruptly last week.

The restaurant, owned by George Lanahan and Chuck and Greg Sop, has been an anchor of downtown nightlife since it opened 21⁄2 years ago.

Saddled with a sagging economy, the owners shut down the restaurant last Thursday. The move also silenced plans to open The Vault, a dance hall/rock venue in the basement of the building.

The Vault was to have a gritty, urban atmosphere, heavy on the glowing art and blacklights. The renovation of the room was nearly complete, and its opening was imminent.

Negotiations are under way to reorganize the business, said James Czar of Nineline Media in Cincinnati, who is serving as spokesman for the restaurant during this transitional phase.

He couldn’t comment on what the new ownership team would look like, because that has yet to be determined.

“The owners are adjusting their business model” to better serve their customers and face the realities of the economic climate, said Czar. He couldn’t get specific. “It’s still being hacked out,” he told The Vindicator. But the plan is to reopen, he said, although no target date has been set.

The upscale restaurant and bar was a lynchpin in the transformation of downtown into an entertainment-nightlife hub, and was popular with folks heading to — and coming from — shows at nearby venues.

Two rock bands score

opener slots at concerts

A couple of local bands are getting a chance to step up on a bigger stage.

Phoenix Rising, whose members hail from the West Side, will be one of the opening acts for Seether, which comes to Club Gossip in Austintown on Sept. 17.

And Fillmore Jive, a psychedelic fuzz-rock duo, will open for rising act the Black Angels on Sept. 10 at Diesel, on Carson Street in Pittsburgh’s South Side. The Austin, Texas-based Black Angels channel music from the psychedelic-rock era.

Fillmore Jive also will be at The Lemon Grove, 122 W. Federal St., Youngstown, Monday for a 10 p.m. show that will be a warm-up to the Pittsburgh date. Tickets to the Diesel concert will be spread around that night as giveaways and prizes.

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