Saturday, August 23, 2014

Great Banana Split Festival & Bank Robbery Anniversary!

Still time to dash to Latrobe to enjoy the 2nd annual Great Banana Split Festival, the highlight of last year being the robbery of a local bank. I thought I'd repost this today because they still haven't nabbed the culprit and I pine for a closure that would involve a chase and the felon slipping on a banana peel. 

Dang! Looks like my “Good Morning America” segment promoting my book got bumped.

And why not? Who wouldn’t rather see home videos of George Stephanopoulus’s tweener daughters riding in the back of a limo and giggling about attending the VMA’s?

Still, I was disappointed.

The segment was filmed Sunday afternoon and the producers said GMA was going to air it this morning.

My quote: “Thank you, Elizabeth. Great to be here! Yes, my book is ‘Use All The Crayons!’ It’s available for $15.95 at, Barnes & Noble and other fine outlets that care about bringing joy to all our lives and increasing the solvency of just mine.”

Perhaps the problem was I was about 400 miles from Robin, no one could see me, and my nifty little sales pitch was drowned out by nearly 1,000 other promoters who were waving fruit and shouting America needed to “Go Bananas!”

Yes, should it ever air, that will be the Rodell family in the very lower righthand  corner of your screen helping set the Guinness World Record for most people simultaneously peeling bananas.

And Mom used to wonder if I’d ever amount to anything.

It was the finale to Latrobe’s first Great American Banana Split Festival, a three-day extravaganza celebrating the official recognition that our old Tassel’s Pharmacy was in 1904 the site of the creation of the world’s first banana split by then 23-year-old pharmacist David Strickler.

Highlights included a banana split-themed sock hop, a banana split-themed street festival, a banana split-themed song contest and a bank robbery.

Can you believe it?

I mean the bank robbery not being banana split themed.

Yes, as many of our police on Friday at 11 a.m. were attending to the downtown ceremony where the historical marker was being unveiled, a crafty robber seized on the inconvenient logistics and held up the Citizen’s Bank one mile away before racing away to, I’m guessing, the Great American Crystal Meth Festival.

Oh, how I wish I could report the culprit was apprehended after slipping on a bank parking lot banana peel.

He and his driver got away with an undetermined amount of cash, which is now, like the suspects themselves, covered in gaudy red security ink. Reports say the radio transmitter-controlled dye packs exploded.

The same thing happened to Gale and Evelle Snoats in “Raising Arizona.”

I can’t believe any would-be bank robbers haven’t seen it. It’s a great movie. Very funny and parts of it are like vo-tech school for stupid crooks.

These exploding dye packs are very sound deterrents to criminal activity. They either stain or destroy the money, burn the robber with heat and tear gas elements and leave the getaway vehicles and the robbers themselves covered in indelible Disperse Red No. 9 ink.

Too bad they don’t have an equivalent deterrent to the Wall Street bankers who use clever accounting tricks to rip off banks and taxpayers of untold millions.

Oh, wait. They do. It’s  . . . none!

With reward money on the line, I’m on the lookout and am beginning to frustrate police with numerous citizen’s arrests. Note: for a person to be considered a suspect, more skin than just his or her neck has to be red.

It has me wondering if anyone will take extra precautions next August when Latrobe intends to again celebrate its role in the creation of America’s heirloom dessert.

For ceremonial purposes, I’d at least like to see if  sponsor Dole Fruits will pay to fill the packs with Disperse Yellow No. 9 ink.

Either way, I’m glad no one was hurt. I was in that very bank the previous week at the very time of the robbery

That’s my mother’s bank and I use that branch when I need to administer to her meager funds. Talk about your deterrents to crime.

So, naturally, I spent a good deal of the weekend wondering how I’d have reacted had the crime happened before my eyes.

Would I have tried to be the hero? Not a chance.

I would have run.

After all, turning yellow and splitting was for at least this weekend in Latrobe the civic thing to do.

Related . . .

The King of the Bank Robbers  . . . This was the 2005 story about America’s most prolific bank robber, Carl Gugasian. True crime fans will enjoy this one.

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