RENOVO - He may not actually control the weather, but it is sure looked as though Newswatch 16's Joe Snedeker could stop the rain on Sunday in Renovo.
Snedeker, who is on his 11th annual "Go Joe" charity bicycle ride to raise money for St. Joseph's Center in Dunmore, started his seven-day trek from the 16th Street Park in Renovo where he received an amazing sendoff from the people of western Clinton County. As it turns out, it was Renovo's enthusiasm for their favorite meteorologist that afforded them the opportunity to play host to the kick-off this year.
Newswatch 16's Chief Photographer Paul Kielbasa is the only person outside of the Snedeker family to have taken part on the road in all of the previous Go Joe rides. He said Renovo's hospitality when Joe rode through town five years ago helped to determine that this year's ride should kick off here.
Joe Snedeker started off “Go Joe XI” on 16th Street in Renovo Sunday night.
KEVIN RAUCH/THE EXPRESS
Tom Mazzula asked Snedeker to sign a copy of The Express, which featured Snedeker on the cover. “I’ve never looked that good,” the weatherman commented.
KEVIN RAUCH/THE EXPRESS
"It was amazing the support he received here last time" said the photographer. "He cannot possibly stop for everyone that stands along the road cheering, but in Renovo there were three places with about forty people in each spot waving money, how could he not stop?"
Whether or not Renovo's citizenry even realized they had made such a distinct impression a half-decade ago, on Sunday they provided the best sendoff the weather would allow.
Dozens of people had gathered by 3PM at the 16th Street Park, and more continued to stream in on a constant basis. The Renovo Fire Department helped the Renovo Council set up several activities to help raise money for Snedeker's ride. Groups such as the Renovo Community Choir were on hand ready to sing. The Flaming Foliage Festival Committee painted "Go Joe XI" on faces and arms.
Despite the high humidity the crowd continued to grow, until a heartbreaking announcement. The National Weather Service informed the fire companies that a severe thunderstorm with 60 MPH winds was about to come through.
Surprisingly, the spirit of Go Joe was about to shine through the rain, because the hundred or so Snedeker fans- known as Snedheads- weren't about to be chased off by the rain, which lasted for more than an hour.
Just before the rain stopped, Snedeker came out of his RV, which follows the ride and provides transportation for his wife and kids.
The crowd gathered around Snedeker, who repeatedly thanked everyone for waiting. The weatherman proved true to his television personality, joking with the crowd and even making sure that the town's name is pronounced "Renovo," not "Renova".
Renovo Council president Randy Bibey said that the turnout was great, as it was estimated that the people of Renovo had united to donate thousands of dollars to St. Joseph's Festival.
"We have several clubs, groups and businesses hand over some big chunks of money, hopefully we really made an impression as having a big heart up here" said Bibey.
Kielbasa said that the message came through loud and clear.
"I don't want to get into specific numbers, but this is without a doubt one of the top two biggest send offs that we have had.
"This turnout was great."