Local man makes tribute to athlete, Warren

WARREN – A Warren man is showing his enthusiasm for the city and one of its athletes.

Brandon Giovannone, 27, created a YouTube video with the help of some friends titled “I am Warren Ohio.”

The video posted Wednesday is Giovannone’s second tribute to Warren native Mario Manningham, wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers, who has a chance today for back-to-back Super Bowl rings.

“We united as one during (last year’s) Super Bowl when we saw one of our born-and-raised make the catch,” Giovannone said, recalling Manningham’s catch from Eli Manning that helped the New York Giants gain the win over the New England Patriots.

Although Manningham will not be able to play in this year’s game due to a torn ACL, Giovannone said the former Warren G. Harding High School standout will still be there rooting for the team.

“It comes down to this: He’s still part of that team, and the city of Warren is still beyond proud. We can only imagine what he could do in this Super Bowl,” he said.

Giovannone said he wants to rekindle the excitement from last year’s big game as well as promote the city of Warren.

“Warren, Ohio, has its ups and downs, and we are just like every other city looking for a moment to unite as one,” he said.

In Giovannone’s video, footage from last year’s big catch can be seen as well as shots of local landmarks and eateries famous to Warren.

Courthouse Square, the Hot Dog Shoppe, Dave Grohl Alley, Sunrise Inn and the Mocha House are a few of the areas featured, along with area officials, teachers, students and principals and other residents.

Warren Mayor Doug Franklin also can be seen in the video.

“It was really a pleasure to do. I think it speaks to some of the challenges that we’ve been through as a community and I think the video captured our resilient spirit,” Franklin said Saturday. “I was inspired by the fact that we have a community spirit that’s being captured on YouTube and pretty much for everyone, not only in Warren, to see and enjoy.”

Franklin said he had the opportunity to view the video alongside 700 Harding students on Friday, all of whom he said enjoyed and were inspired by its message. He also said he hopes the video serves to rekindle community spirit.

Another resident included in the video was police Sgt. Joe O’Grady, the past president of Main Street Warren who was instrumental in establishing Dave Grohl Alley. The alley is a tribute to the Warren native who is frontman for the rock band Foo Fighters and was drummer for Nirvana.

“I was very proud and honored that a young person from Warren asked me to be involved,” O’Grady said. “It’s very important now that we’re getting the youth involved in the city.

”He (Giovannone) focuses on the good stuff that has been turned around here in Warren. The alley was one of the bad parts in the city, and look what we’ve done to it. I’m very honored that somebody as young as Brandon realizes this and says, yes, this is what this whole thing is all about, to turn this city around,” he said.

Giovannone said he would have liked to feature more local establishments, but scheduling and time constraints were a factor.

Giovannone’s video is just over four minutes long, but it took about nine hours to film and edit the footage. The 2003 Harding graduate said the school is where he got his start in video, completing video projects and covering events such as Harding’s state championship game in 2002.

After posting the video Wednesday evening, YouTube reported more than 5,000 hits as of late Saturday. Although slightly less than last year’s video, Giovannone said the message is still spreading and with anything that goes viral, you never know when its going to hit.

When the game comes on tonight, Giovannone said he will be enjoying pizza and wings with some friends – and rooting for another one of Warren’s own.

“It’s a pretty big achievement,” he said of Manningham. “It’s something to be proud of.”