As a local business owner, Brian Cronister knows the importance of Pittsburg State University, a school that serves as one of the city's main lifelines.

As a local business owner, Brian Cronister knows the importance of Pittsburg State University, a school that serves as one of the city's main lifelines.
So as a way of returning the support PSU regularly shows his Ace Hardware store on N. Broadway, Cronister annually decks out his store's windows in red and gold as part of the yearly "Paint the Town Red" event, which kicks off today.
"The university is a big part of this town," Cronister said. "They support me and we are just trying to give back."
Other local businesses, north and south, are also decorated in Gorilla colors this week as part of the fourth annual "Paint the Town Red" event, which is organized by the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce and PSU's Office of Alumni and Constituent Relations.
"It's a fun way to get involved and to kick off the school year," said Kathryn Baker, Splash Pool and Patio store employee. "It's also a way to show the town that we support Pitt State."
Blake Benson, Chamber president, said this year's event will be "much bigger than in year's past."
"We wanted to spend the first few years really getting the community familiar with the event and what it stands for," he said. "This year, we're really taking it to a new level."
The "Paint" festivities get rolling today with an 8 a.m. Chamber coffee at the PSU Alumni Center. A community pep rally at Gorilla Village will take place at 6 p.m. Also on Thursday, judging will take place for the display competition between PSU's on-campus and Greek organizations, a contest new to the event this year.
Friday's events include a balloon launch by local third-grade students and the showing of the movie "Up!" on the Jungletron at PSU's Carnie Smith Stadium, also new this year. The businesses displays also will be judged on Friday.
The 5K run to benefit PSU Students in Free Enterprise, to start at 8 a.m. on Saturday, was added this year. At 7 p.m. at Carnie Smith, the PSU football team takes on the University of Central Oklahoma in its first game of the season.
“Paint the Town Red” is an effort aimed at showcasing the community’s support of Pittsburg State University and the university’s immense contribution to southeast Kansas. A recent economic impact survey indicated that PSU injects more than $190 million annually into the regional economy.
Residents can also show their PSU pride by sporting the official “Paint the Town Red” T-shirts now available Jock’s Nitch Sporting Goods, 523 N. Broadway in Pittsburg.