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Preston Park group creating interactive series

Tony Stagno is leading an initiative to create a video series about Preston Park, highlighting specific places in the park, like the geography lesson outside the lab. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle

BUTLER TWP — The Friends of Preston Park Foundation will take guests of the group’s Light up the Night event Friday, June 21, on a tour of Frank Preston’s lab without anyone having to leave the Atrium.

Tony Stagno, executive director of the foundation, will show a demonstration video at the third annual fundraiser event in which he leads the viewer on a tour through the lab and speaks in voiceover about what the viewer is seeing. Friday’s event is the first unveiling of this recent initiative, which Stagno said is planned to be a series of several videos which each feature a different part of Preston Park.

While the project is in its early stages, Stagno said he ultimately wants the videos to create a virtual tour of Preston Park, which visitors access by scanning QR codes placed around the park. Stagno has cut back on the number of tours he gives of the park, but he said he hopes the video series can be a replacement to his in-person tours.

“We see this as a series of 12 to 15 videos throughout the park,” Stagno said. “One video will be just general knowledge, the way I envision it... another will be the arboretum, another will be the flag pole, the two-story building, the geography lesson. Some will be five minutes, some will be three minutes.”

The Friends of Preston Park Foundation is working with videographer Chris Leisie, who will record and edit the video for the project. Stagno said the foundation is raising money to help cover the cost of making the videos, and he plans to show the videos to other groups to gain more financial support.

Stagno said the Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau gave the foundation a $2,500 grant to fund the project, and NexTier Bank also chipped in the same amount, making both organizations “executive producers” on the project.

Stagno said the video part of the project probably won’t be finished until at least next year, and the foundation is still looking at ways to implement the QR codes around the park. That part will probably come later, Stagno said.

The test video Stagno plans to play Friday shows him speaking about the Preston lab, the house-shaped structure on the northwest side of the park. Normally, the building is only opened by Stagno for tours, but the video will give people a deeper look at the property. With the long-term future of the aging structure uncertain, Stagno said a video about the building will be valuable to future visitors of Preston Park.

“If this works the way I envision it, we have captured the essence of what was there,” Stagno said of the demo video.

Although Friday will be the first glimpse of a project that will take more than a year to complete, Stagno said he is optimistic that the videos will provide insight to not only people who visit the park, but people who come across the series online.

“I'm really excited about the project,” Stagno said. “If it catches on, it could be big on Visit Pa, maybe internationally.”

Stagno said people can still buy tickets to Light up the Night online by visiting the Friends of Preston Park Foundation website at friendspp.org.

Tony Stagno, director of the Friends of Preston Park Foundation, speaks about the geography lesson at Preston Park on Tuesday, June 18. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
Tony Stagno, director of the Friends of Preston Park Foundation, speaks about the Preston lab on Tuesday, June 18. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
Tony Stagno talks about the maps Tuesday, June 18, in a room in the Preston lab at Preston Park, where the Friends of Preston Park Foundation is making a video series. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
A little gazebo over looks the pond as the Friends of Preston Park Foundation is making a video series on Preston Park, which people will activate via QR codes that will be placed around the park. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle

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