“We’ve had retirees work on this since the beginning,” he said.
Barney Strassburger, a Grandpa Gang member who used to work in the former AK Steel research lab, said the set-up work for Light Up Middletown begins on Oct. 1 and takes until the popular attraction’s opening on Thanksgiving Day. After New Years Day, the Grandpa Gang begins tearing down the displays and putting them into storage.
Strassburger said in 2016, there were about 50 volunteers from AK Steel helping out. But it’s the end product that makes Light Up Middletown special to him, he said.
“Just to see the kids and everyone enjoy it is worth it,” he said.
Jester said Light Up Middletown is one of a number of projects that Middletown Works employees have taken on.
“This will be our third year of participating as part of AK CARES for Light Up Middletown” she said. “We are pleased to be able to help with the set up of this long running holiday event that means so much to the Middletown community.”
Melissa Benedict, senior manager for community relations and executive director of the AK Steel Foundation, works with AK Steel employees at all sites to support the AK CARES program.
Jester said other volunteer projects that AK Steel employees from Middletown Works have participated in have included planting and sprucing up the area around the Sorg Opera House; raking, planting and picking up trash in parks as part of the community’s annual spring Clean Up Middletown day; countless hours supporting Middletown schools; and the many nonprofit programs in the Middletown community such as Hope House, SELF and Shared Harvest Food Bank.