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Poland celebrates once more

POLAND — Those who know — or don’t know — Brittney Marinelli likely have noticed she’s undergone a significant growth spurt of late.

“I do circus work on the side — hula-hoops, fire eating and stilt walking on the side,” Marinelli, of New Springfield, said.

What she lacked in fire and hoops, Marinelli made up for in stilts, which made it possible for the 5-foot, 2-inch woman to become 8 feet, 4 inches tall.

Marinelli, in her smaller version, is a prekindergarten teacher, but as someone who towered over the 6-foot, 9-inch basketball legend LeBron James, she was a source of entertainment, which added to the festivities of Saturday’s Celebrate Poland Fall Festival at the Poland Village Town Hall, 308 S. Main St.

Marinelli recalled having started walking on stilts more than four years ago, but said it took about six months “for me to get really comfortable” with the art of careful and delicate balance.

During the fest, Marinelli took occasional breaks every 45 to 60 minutes, though on another occasion, she stayed on stilts for a five-hour stretch, she added.

“Five hours is the longest I’ve been up on these,” Marinelli continued.

Among those drawn to her were sisters Adelina and Gabriella Hernandez of Boardman, 3 and 6, respectively.

Besides having their photographs taken next to Marinelli, the most entertaining aspects of the fest for the sisters were following Cinderella and Spider-Man. They also enjoyed seeing the wide array of decorated pumpkins, said their mother, Jenna Hernandez — adding that the family members also are big Disney fans.

Before coming to the festivities, the family had stopped at Countryside Farm Barn Venue in Poland, and bought pumpkins and other items. Visiting the business and Saturday’s festival were a natural back-to-back fall-themed fit for each other, Jenna added.

The fest featured about 54 local artisans and other vendors, and this was the second time it was held in the fall, Cindy Best, the Celebrate Poland Committee’s president, noted.

The fall version, which also was a fundraiser, is smaller than the annual June event. Its value also was in helping to offset the higher-than-expected cost of the summer gathering, which was about $45,000, Best explained.

New this year was a pet costume contest with trophies for most creative costumes, as well as decorate a cookie.

“We think we covered it for everybody to have a good time,” she said.

Among the items for sale were handmade custom jewelry, earrings, pendants, keychains, crocheted pumpkins, baseball cards, pet treats, paintings, repurposed clothing, baked goods, scented candles, fall-themed sweatshirts and autumn wood products.

Also on hand was Savannah Carroll, who runs Identity Skin Spa in Boardman and was selling an array of skin-care products. Carroll is an esthetician, a professional whose sole focus is on skin care and beautification. She also has expanded into oncology esthetics – with a specialty in treating patients with “cancer-related skin side effects,” she said.

Oncology esthetics focuses on the effects cancer treatments have on the skin while allowing the provider to administer safe skin care treatments with modifications to ingredients and techniques. Those ailments include neuropathy, pain, hair loss, anxiety and stress, abnormally dry and itchy skin and radiation dermatitis – all of which many people with cancer experience, Carroll noted.

She also works with hospitals and is connected with Yellow Brick Place, a nonprofit wellness organization that offers free nonmedical support to those with the disease, as well as their loved ones. YBP’s primary purpose is to “nourish the mind, body and spirit during the fight against cancer, along with providing a hopeful environment for cancer survivors, families and caregivers,” its mission statement shows.

The entertainment and festivities also included a performance from the band Vegas, followed by a parade.

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