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a recent Sunday afternoon, six of her many Mt.Gretna friends
gathered around Jeanine Bitner at a table in the Hotel Hershey's grand
Circular Dining Room. It was a reaffirmation of their friendships as well
as a celebration of her birthday, one of several observances taking place
these days for Mt.Gretnans who have
seen the passage of more than 80 summers. Others in
that estimable category include Chautauqua resident Mary Hoffman, who on
Dec. 22 will mark her 100th birthday, and Gladys Norton, of Conewago
Hill, who a few weeks ago commemorated her 106th. A hallmark
of these gentle ladies born in an earlier era is the grace and dignity
with which they conduct their lives. Always considerate. Always
restrained. Always with high standards that they themselves never utter
but that those in their company never fail to notice. Yet
something more. These and other Mt.Gretna seniors who
have earned the esteem of all who know them bestow rare gifts in this
season of giving and, indeed, all through the year. They are gifts shared
almost imperceptibly, yet with a resonance that lingers.
In the letter that follows
we chronicle some of the events taking place this month,
celebrations of the season in ways that define Mt.Gretna
They begin with the annual lighting of the community Christmas tree on
Dec. 5th and continue throughout the month with carols, the arrival of
Santa, a frolicsome tribute to old Belsnickle himself, and the quiet
candlelight services Dec. 24 at Mt.Gretna's
And with them all, an appropriate exchange of greetings and expressions
of gratitude that form the touchstones of lasting friendships. But the
real gifts are those embedded in Mt. Gretna's unique culture, passed on
to us by those who have shaped its character over the years and now have
come to the December of their lives. In a blog-eat-blog world of
sometimes strident discord, theirs are the enduring gifts of a good
example: civility, dignity and courtesy. And an amiable predisposition to
focus upon the good things and the good people of Mt.Gretna
that enhance the lives of us all. Such, indeed, are the gifts of
The Winterites' meeting today (Dec. 1): A holiday covered dish
luncheon featuring Christmas and Chanukkah foods and decorations, at the Mt.Gretna fire hall, starting at All are welcome.
Annual dues: $10.
Christmas Tree Lighting and carol singing: Saturday, Dec. 5 at the
home of Peter Hewitt and Walter McAnney, followed by carols, hot mulled
cider and cookies, from
to , an
Open House observance now in its 17th year. All in Mt.Gretna
are invited. "We welcome long-time, as well as new, friends to join
us," says the affable Mr. Hewitt. Location: at the intersection of Pinch Road, Princeton Avenue
and Route 117, opposite the post office.
Santa arrives Saturday, Dec. 12 at the Mt.Gretna
fire hall at
He'll be there for two hours. Everyone
is welcome. Youngsters of all ages will find food, favors and fun topped
off by hot chocolate.
(Special notes: Please bring non-perishable food and toiletry items for
the LebanonCountryChristianMinistries' food
bank. Volunteer bakers, please drop off your
baked goods early that morning.) (Dale Grundon photo)
Christmas Scavenger Hike at Governor Dick Park Dec. 12, 1:30 -
2:30 p.m. Prizes go to those finding the most objects named in Clement C.
Moore's "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." $2 fee. Email the park for details.
Old Fashioned Holiday celebration and Open Houses, Sunday, Dec. 13
at La Cigale (along Route 117) and the Mt. Gretna Historical Society (206 Pennsylvania Ave.)
Refreshments, craft-making, tours and (at La Cigale) visits with Mt.Gretna artists. Followed by
caroling throughout Mt.Gretna's
neighborhoods, starting at the post office at until The festive afternoon ends with
holiday treats and pictures with Santa at the Mt. Gretna Inn's fireside.
Belsnickel Night at theTimbers
Dec. 17 with Tom ("The name's
Leviticus, but you can call me LEE-WHY")
Baum and Max Hunsicker: an Amish account of The Night Before Christmas.
Unfamiliar with this classic? It begins: "Four cows and four steers,
harnessed somehow, vere dragging behind them an old-fashioned plow. And
there, chust behind it, sour as a pickle, Vas a fella ve knew had to be
the Belsnickel." Starting, as Winter Stoltzfus officially begins,
by the fireside, downstairs. (Reservations highly recommended. Tel.
Breakfast with Santa at Le Sorelle Cafe Dec. 19, from includes a
free photo with ol' St. Nick himself, says the restaurant's ebullient new
owner, Ken Shertzer, who took over operations at the cafe, located along Chautauqua Drive,
last month. Le
Sorelle's winter hours: Fridays-Sundays. (Closed Dec. 25-27 and
Jan. 1) .
Candlelight services Dec. 24 ( and ) Dec. 24 Mt.
Gretna United Methodist Church, led by the church's
new minister, the Rev. Michael S. Remel, who began serving the local
congregation this past July. Currently completing master of divinity
studies in Philadelphia,
Pastor Remel is among 100 ministers profiled in the book "Answering
the Call." He formerly served at two small churches in southern LancasterCounty and won widespread acclaim
for his compassionate message of forgiveness at funeral services for the
Amish school gunman at Nickel Mines in 2006.
The Mt.Gretna church, at Fourth and Boehm
streets in the Campmeeting, holds regular worship services Sundays at and and is actively seeking new members.
New Year's Eve "close-to-home" party at Timbers with a
$22.95 buffet dinner beginning at 7:00 p.m., accompanied by the piano
artistry of Andy Roberts and continuing until 1:00 a.m. with after dinner party tunes by Mr. Roberts, Scott
Galbraith, Bart Briody, Max Hunsinker and other popular local artists
performing as "Galbraith, Briody and Friends." All amid festive
decorations of the season at The
Timbers Restaurant. Limited menu service also available that evening.
A pork & sauer kraut dinner on New Year's Day? You'll find it
at the Mt. Gretna Pizzeria. Waitress Rose Bair says she'll be serving
breakfast that day, too, starting at
They'll be closed Christmas but open Dec. 24 and 26. Looking ahead to
Super Bowl Sunday Feb. 7: "You bet we'll be open," says
Rose. Now in its fourth year, the popular pizza shop, headed by Damien
Orea and his dad Elidio -- two guys whose sheer persistence and gritty
determination have won customer admiration and loyalty through desolate
winters -- is open Mondays 11:00 a.m. til 8:00 p.m. and
Wednesdays-Sundays 7:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. Tel. 964-1853.
It's a quirky oddity that on most nights during a
typical summer, only about 5 to 8 percent of the Playhouse audience is
made up of people who actually live in Mt. Gretna.
Maybe that's the way it should be. Welcoming others to shareMt.Gretna
experience is part of a long-held tradition, rooted in the Pennsylvania
Chautauqua's founding 117 years ago.
And to be sure, making visitors feel welcome is what drives the
Playhouse's enthusiastic volunteer corps -- people who do everything from
helping patrons find their seats to filling their cups with spritzers at
the refreshment stand.
Last season, despite an economy that set many cultural enterprises on
their ear, Gretna Theatre, Gretna Music and The Cicada Festival welcomed
those visitors and emerged intact. In some cases, even better than before
the season began.
Gretna Theater saw its audiences grow some 26% over the previous season
to nearly 17,500, an astonishing accomplishment given the collapse of
many cultural enterprises elsewhere in the country, including some close
to home. The Cicada Festival, offering $11 tickets to its five midsummer
shows, sold all but 100 of its 3500 seats. And Gretna Music, hampered by
unfavorable weather for some concerts and a continued decline in support
for jazz concerts that have been part of its repertoire for over 30
years, came within 14% of matching its 2008 totals.
In an uncertain economy, that momentum augurs well. Going into its winter
season at ElizabethtownCollege, Gretna
Music seems headed toward new records. Half of its concerts are already
sellouts, and tickets are going fast for others scheduled early next
year. (See item below).
Yet despite encouraging signs, pulling off last season's successes wasn't
easy. Gretna Theatre's operating budget now tops $600,000, only about
half of which is covered by ticket sales. The rest comes from a
combination of direct patron donations, foundation and
corporate support (including sponsorships) and an annual gala.
Gretna Music trimmed operating costs for its 2009 concerts at the
Playhouse to $219,000, with ticket revenues covering roughly 50% of those
expenses. So it, too, must depend on private contributions, grants and
corporate gifts as well as the Mt. Gretna House Tour and other
Only the Cicada Festival, which runs with an all-volunteer staff, covers
most of its annual costs ($33,0000 this year)
with ticket sales. Whatever donations it receives goes into funding
expanded offerings the following year, such as the Thursday matinee in
2010 and a headliner act that should be announced soon.
All three groups encourage patrons to get their 2010 ticket orders in
early. "Don't wait for the brochure," says Gretna Music's
Michael Murray. "Get on our e-mail list to know what's
coming, check into the Gretna
Music page on Facebook, or check our website." Similar
advice comes from Gretna
Theatre's Larry Frenock and Cicada's
And those 5 percent of residents who actually buy tickets? They win
plaudits from others in Mt.Gretna who don't
always get to plays and concerts but understand full well a basic
reality: Culture is a key to Mt.Gretna's intrinsic
value, and the Playhouse is a hub around which many of those cultural
. . . but in erratic fashion this year. Some days they arrive
in droves. Other days they're scarcely noticeable in the skies over Mt.Gretna. Nobody seems to be able to
divine a pattern in their unpredictable behavior.
Mt. Gretna's turkey vultures returned last month, just as they have
every November for the past quarter century. Overall, however, their
numbers are down from a peak of 600 or so a few years ago, thanks to
unrelenting efforts by a small group of volunteers in a
community-wide campaign led by Max Hunsicker.
But the birds have remarkably long lives (sometimes up to 25 years)
and equally long memories. They tend to return to the places they knew
and loved as youngsters.
Over the past decade, Mt.Gretna's
vulture patrol has achieved greater success than bird relocation campaigns
attempted elsewhere, USDA officials report. But the key is to keep at it,
lest these uncommonly persistent creatures resume old habits and return
to familiar roosts to raise yet another generation of birds with honing
instincts attuned to the glide slope leading into Mt.Gretna.
Volunteers use a variety of methods to scare the birds away, including
flares, high-powered spotlights and aerial bursts,
which disrupt roosting patterns just as they attempt to settle in
at dusk. Once perched in their nighttime roosts, turkey vultures are
difficult to dislodge.
Coordinator Max Hunsicker advises his team of volunteers that
"the best time to scare the turkey vultures is 45 minutes before
dark." But, he cautions, "always weigh
the noise nuisance vs. the buzzard nuisance." He also points
out that "Vultures that remain overnight do the most damage since
they don't move after dark."
Mr. Hunsicker says the campaign can use additional volunteers, since
some of the original team members have
retired or moved away. To help in the coordinated effort to drive the
vultures to harmless roosts out of town with a minimum of disturbance to
residents, send an email to:
The bird that made Mt.Gretna
Throated Flycatcher, spotted by Mt. Gretna
Bird Club members Sid Hostetter and Randy Miller on one of their regular
Friday morning treks two weeks ago. It was the fourth such sighting in Pennsylvania
"This bird has really put Mt.Gretna on the
map," says club member Evelyn Koppel. "On any given day you can
see a half dozen folks with binoculars and giant camera lenses viewing
the bird. One man who came from Pittsburgh
to see the bird fed him grasshoppers."
Noted bird photographers and other luminaries from the bird-watching
world are ambling into town, to a site just west
of the state game lands' dirt
parking lot along Pinch Road,
opposite the GovernorDickParkNatureCenter.
Society for Ornithology sent a team out to verify the sighting and
take photos for an upcoming issue of Pennsylvania
(Photos: Sid Hostetter, left; Bob Snyder, right)
Ms. Koppel says the rare bird is, for the moment, staying in one place,
which helps visitors find it. Once cold weather begins to set in,
however, he (or she -- a minor mystery yet unraveled) will likely head
or Central America.
The Mt. Gretna Bird Club meets Friday mornings at outside the NatureCenter.
They travel to popular bird-watching sites in the area, then often wind up their outings with coffee and
conversation at Le
Sorelle. To join them, call 964-3412 or email: email@example.com.
Officials attempting to straighten out the thorny problem of a
disputed overpayment made by Lebanon's
Earned Income Tax Bureau to Mt. Gretna Borough suggest a 20-year payback
period, the Lebanon
Daily News reported.
Some Borough residents are challenging the validity of a claimed $200,000
overpayment during the period from 2004 to 2007.
Speaking of writing checks, here are a couple of
guys who hope you'll include the Mt.Gretna
firefighters in your year-end donations. The fire company has launched
the largest fund-raising drive in its history: $400,000 to wipe out the
debt on its expanded new building and pay for firefighting equipment they'll soon need.
Campaign chairman Tom Mayer, left, and fire company president Joe Shay
continue to meet weekly on a campaign they hope will "burn the
mortgage" and buy new equipment as older fire engines must be
Want to join the fire company's Wall of Honor with a five-year annual
pledge (in amounts of $500, $1,000, $2,500, $5,000 or $10,000)? Send
donations to: Mt. Gretna Fire Company, P. O. Box 177, Mt. Gretna,
Tom Mayer has details (964-1987; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).
in the news . . .
Mt.Gretnans, who love a good
soup as much as a good soiree, turned out in record numbers last
month for the seventh annual soup cook-off in a rousing affirmation of
Ludwig van Beethoven's sprightly observation that "Only the pure in
heart can make a good soup."
Pure hearts and hearty appetites were manifest at the seventh annual
soupfest on November's opening weekend. About 130 soup-tasters bought
tickets to qualify as judges, satisfying their taste buds and, in the
process, adding another $1,000 or so to the Mt.Gretna
fire company's crucial 'burn the mortgage"
In what has become one of the most convivial community-wide celebrations
of the year, most of the winners, surprisingly, turned out to be Mt.Gretnans, or at least folks who
live close enough to walk to Mt.Gretna's post
office. Previous years' winners have sometimes been out-of-towners,
making the rounds at cook-offs throughout Central
Pennsylvania in search of fame, medals and ever-ascending
levels of culinary distinction.
This year's winner in both the "best-tasting" and "most
unusual" categories was Mt.Gretna architect
William Barlow (inset, left), whose entry blended a hint of pumpkin
in a hearty chicken soup called "Pumpkin Doodle Do." His
winning concoction honored the elusive Bantam Cock that since March has
roamed through town, evading captors and waking townsfolk in the wee
hours of the morning.
Mr. Barlow, dressed in a black robe which hinted
somberly that Doodle had already joined the ranks of the dearly departed,
collected top honors. Yet even as officials
draped medals around the souperchef, a recalcitrant rooster,
barely 500 yards away, strutted his stuff, still very much alive --
kicking and crowing -- having once again outsmarted those who have sought
to round him up.
Runner-ups in a tightly contested "best-tasting" division were
Harvard Avenue's Nick and
Deidre Sweet (inset, above right), whose Caribbean Black Bean soup
proved a hit with the judges, all of whom had forked over their $10 to taste, talk and tally their
From nearby Horseshoe Trail, Sharon Warfel (inset, right) came
with her Ruben Chowder to take third place honors in the taste category.
Winning "best presentation" honors (inset, left) was Mt.
Gretnan Jean Ditzler's Cream of Ruben entry.
Other Mt.Gretna area contestants included
Esther Mefferd of Timber
Road, Lake View Drive resident Bob
Hertzler, John "Noodles" Noulet of the Chautauqua, Conewago Hill Drive
resident Laura Feather and friend Rose Ann Battista, Eleanor Sarabia with
grandson Joey Mann, former Brown
Avenue resident Jeanie Bachland, and Gretna
Springs' Maxine and Harry Strother. (Photos lower left and right: Dale Grundon)
Governor Dick Park will be closed to
visitors Dec. 2-5 for the special limited deer hunt (restricted to 100
hunters with special permits whose names were drawn in a lottery earlier
After opting to skip a special
hunt last year, officials conducted density studies this spring and
turned up the surprising finding that 32 deer per acre are now roaming
the 1,105-acre forest, a population that forestry officials say is unhealthy
for both deer and vegetation.
No one is sure what caused the sudden deer surge. Measurement studies
have remain unchanged over the past four or five
years. One theory is that the population of coyotes, a natural deer
predator, has dropped sharply.
Park officials cautioned
hikers, bikers and horseback riders to stay out of the forest
throughout the four-day hunt. Although the park's NatureCenter
officially closed Nov. 30, some winter activities will continue outdoors.
See the park
newsletter for details.
Ghost towns aren't necessarily those
abandoned places where people no longer live, tumbleweeds roll across empty
streets, and shutters bang "against the vacant sockets of dark
In the words of writer Jennifer Veser Besse, a fourth-generation Mt.Gretnan who about 18 months ago
returned to live here
permanently, ghost towns can be any town that is a shadow of its former
self. Like, for instance, Mt.Gretna, which once
had 10,000 soldiers, a sight-seeing train that ran up the mountain, and two grand hotels.
That, in fact, is the essence of her latest essay, "Living in a
Ghost Town," which placed as first runner up last month in the 2009 William
Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition in New Orleans,
where her writings have won honors every year since she began competing
there in 2003.
Writing comes naturally to this Timber Hills resident, whose parents and
grandparents both owned year-round cottages in the Chautauqua. Her uncle,
Brubaker, is also an author and writes "The Scribbler," a
newspapers column. She herself is now in the midst of a novel, set in St. Thomas, which
she considers "the warm twin of Mt.Gretna"
and one of her two favorite spots in the world.
"Even at a young age I knew that Mt.Gretna
was different and that it would make me different," she writes.
"There's something enchanting about living in close proximity to the
Stimulus money? What stimulus money? When they want to get
something accomplished, those get-it-done guys from Timberbridge don't wait on
help to arrive from Washington,
On a crisp Saturday morning last month, they rolled up their sleeves,
rolled out the rocks and created a scenic corridor along Alpen Drive -- a
little-used, tranquil roadway that links their community on the western perimeter
of Mt. Gretna to Lakeview Drive in Conewago Hill, where the grand
five-story Conewago Hotel once overlooked the lake. Mainly, these days,
the corridor serves as a walkway for area residents and as the entrance
road to Alpen Drive's
But that doesn't mean it's not
So the Timberbridge chapter of "Men with Rakes," which springs
into action whenever duty calls, spread, raked and steamrollered stones
into a smooth-surfaced roadway (inset, right) that would make
The project took only two hours, thanks to
volunteers that included Cade Metzger, 7; Sadie, 7, and Keara
Lillenstein, 2; Campbell, 5, and Beau Toler, 2; and Isaac Woessner, 6,
who helped their dads finish the job. Another star: Alpen Drive's Elisabeth Boyd, who
came with the hot coffee.
On the question, "Who's smarter,
chickens or primates?" the oddsmakers are shifting their bets in favor of
roosters. That's because, thanks to the Internet, Doodle's fame is growing
as the fowl-you-can't-lay-a-finger-on.
So far he's outsmarted a team
from the SPCA, Mt.Gretna fire
department's finest, and now would-be captors
who claim that, with a mysterious whistle that freezes chickens in their
tracks, they can stupefy runaway birds much in the way that Paul Hogan
faced down a charging water buffalo in "Crocodile
Knowledgeable farmers say they've heard such things are possible. Maybe
so, but first you've got to find the bird.
Every time anybody shows up with a cage and a hook, however, Doodle
Mt. Gretna Bird Club members meanwhile are waiting to be called in for
their prosaic solution: a conventional trap that will safely ensnare
Doodle for the brief, if unceremonious, trip to a nearby farm where his
erstwhile mate Dolly (inset, right) awaits.
Capturing her was easy. She eagerly hopped into the passenger seat of a
pickup truck and enjoyed the ride to a spot where, for the past few
weeks, she's been reveling in her new role as resident, retiree, and lady
of leisure. Meanwhile, Doodle remains at large, roaming in the
wilderness. Sometimes, it seems, women really do know best.
Pianist, composer, arranger and. .
. fiddler? Yes, that's
Timbers' Dinner Theater music director Andy Roberts (inset, left),
adjunct professor and assistant music director of the American Music
Theater. He's one of a dozen or so talented musicians who amble
over to La
Cigale, next to the miniature golf course, on Monday evenings for
what's become a relaxing, entertaining, and enjoyable -- not to mention free
-- musical experiences available anywhere.
Yes, fiddlers, banjo strummers, harmonica
aficionados, guitarists and mandolinists assemble to play whatever their
hearts dictate, with spur-of-the-moment inspirations for their own
enjoyment and whoever happens to stop by.
On a couple of Monday nights last month, Kay Mitchell
showed up. Now Kay Arcuragi and living in Mississippi, she was one of the first performers to step onto the
Timbers stage back in the '70s. In the words of harmonica artist Bart
Briody (insert, center), she was, hands down, the "best singer the
dinner theater ever had."
Back again and singing along with the group, "I'll Fly Away,"
she and others delighted in a session intended primarily for their own
enjoyment but also one thoroughly delighting listeners who stopped by the
La Cigale design center. What's behind it all? Pure pleasure for artists and
audiences, every Monday from 6:00 p.m. until around 9:00 p.m. The idea's an inspiration not just from the talented
Dale Dourte, but also from La Cigale owner John Mitchell, who thinks Mt.
Gretna could become a venue for street performances of all types. The
bluegrass sessions, which started outside this summer and have now moved
inside his building, are going strong -- winning praise, plaudits and
plenty of mountain music converts.
curious thing about living in Mt. Gretna is why people who live
here would want to pay good money to travel to distant places for a
change of scenery. Stick around town, and
interesting sights come to you.
The photo at right, for example, looks as if it could have come from the
archives of Mt.Gretna's historical
society. In fact, it was simply Peter Hawryluk, (inset, below) who
runs an automotive shop "on the other side of the mountain."
He stopped by to drop off mail at the Mt. Gretna post office one afternoon last
month in his four-cylinder 1930 Ford. Now with 43,000 original miles, the
vintage auto was once owned by his late sister.
Mr. Hawryluk lives in Denver
and says the car is "a lot of fun to drive," gets 17 miles per
gallon, and is good for curing what ails you. "It steers hard,"
he says. "If I didn't drive it, my arthritis would kill me."
And the hat? "No special reason. It just feels comfortable."
A day or so later, on an Indian Summer Sunday morning, Jim Good pulled up
alongside the Jigger Shop, now closed for the season. A retired salesman
for J.C. Penny, Mr. Good, 67, spends his days volunteering at St. Anne's Retirement Home in Lancaster -- where
he delivers birthday cards, runs erands and serves as a
driver for residents five mornings a week.
On weekends, the cheerful bachelor puts a big stuffed bear in the
passenger seat of his sports car, dresses him up in whatever costume the
season dictates, and drives around "having a ball," startling
adults and delighting children.
He especially likes to show up with his costumed bear, driving
nonchalantly around places like the ParkCity
shopping mall on Black Friday, as shoppers line
And if you're thinking you can only see exotic fowl by scooting off on
safaris, think again. Icky, also known as Ichabod Crane,
awaits you just down the street, near the former ice dam along Route 117.
He's become perhaps the most-photographed Sandhill Crane on the East
Coast. That's because he doesn't belong on the East Coast. He's clearly
off his flight path and far, far away
from a potential mate. But he doesn't seem to know that. In fact, he's
attracted such attention that he probably doesn't even know he's lonely.
Sandhill Cranes are supposed to hang out in the Midwestern U.S.,
according to the bird experts. Their sightings in the East are rare, but
not unheard of. Mt.Gretna's bird club
is keeping an eye on Icky and will help wildlife officials assure that
he's protected if he decides to winter over in the area.
Afflerbach, a wildlife painter who lives in nearby Spring Hill Acres,
found him out wading one sunny day near the rail trail, so calm that
visitors could almost reach out and touch him. She took about 150 photos
in a single afternoon session.
Soon afterward, noted wildlife photographer Barry L. Runk, of Grant
Heilman Photography, caught Icky in a contemplative mood (above,
left) -- puzzling, perhaps, over exactly where he took a wrong
turn. (Inset photos: above right: Susan Afflerbach,
left: Barry Runk)
Gretna Music's Elizabethtown
winter concerts are selling out fast. So if you want to catch Wu Man's solo
pipa concert Feb. 14, don't wait to order
your tickets. Never heard of her? Here's a PBS
interview that'll convince you this is one not to be missed. And
coming up Mar. 19, the Orpheus
Meanwhile, although the Raleigh Ringers (Dec. 6) and Vienna Boys Choir
(Dec. 17) are already sold out, you can call (361-1508) to add your name
to the waiting list in case tickets to those concerts become available.
Matt and Kerry Royer, the Campmeeting
couple who just published a children's book based on Mrs. Royer's bedtime stories to her
children about the adventures of their stuffed animals, say "Nightbear
& Lambie" enjoyed a successful opening night release party
at the Hall of Philosophy recently.
They're now signing autographed copies and following up on marketing
activities at places like Resource
Island in Cleona (operated by Gretna Emporium owner Stacey
Pharmacy in Hummelstown, Education
Station in Lancaster and the nationwide chain of Pottery
Barn Kids stores.
Illustrated by Mr. Royer, who is an attorney, the book also is available
online at www.nightbearandlambie.com.
Mrs. Royer, who wrote the narrative, encourages local residents to stop
by their cottage, 507
Seventh St. in the Campmeeting, email or call 964-1320 to pick up a
signed copy. "It makes a great gift for little ones," she
Campmeeting president Jeffrey Hurst, The Hershey Company's
senior food scientist, continues to star in detective stories that have
their origins in ancient Mayan society.
Dr. Hurst's recent analysis of 1,300-year-old
artifacts discovered more than a century ago -- and delicate enough
to crumble at the slightest touch -- found they once held theobromine and
caffeine, proving that the chocolate-loving Mayans were not much
different from us, concludes the Philadelphia
Gretna Theatre's first holiday production in
nearly 20 years, "The Littlest Angel," appears in a dinner theater
offering at DiMatteo Center,
Valley Brethren Home Dec. 17-20. It's an "angel of a play,"
headlines the Lebanon
Daily News, " based on a 1970s television production about a
young angel's transformation from "celestial pest to the toast of
heaven." Dinner and show tickets (and some show-only tickets)
are available for evening and matinee performances. Call Gretna
Theatre: 964-3627. Online ticketing not available.
"Weathered Beauty. . . Glimpses of France
by Mt.Gretna photographer Madelaine Gray
Gallery at Lebanon Picture Frame and Fine Art exhibit for December. Ms. Gray will be
there for an artist's reception Dec. 4, from to
"My photographs express the desires of my heart: what I want in my
life and what I value most. I find that photography is a way to learn
about life," she says in a statement posted on her website.
Washington, D.C. art critic Nancy Ungar, reviewing a similar exhibit of
her work in Gaithersburg, Md., said that Ms. Gray "sees past the
razzle-dazzle of tourist sites and sentiment," seeking out the simplicity
of European villages with a view that displays their "history
in nicks, cracks and layers of paint."
The gallery is next to Niko's Restaurant, on the third floor of the
Lebanon Farmers Market, 31 S. 8th St.
Mt. Gretna photographer Glenn Acker's works appear at a Lebanon
exhibit this month, at Queso
Dee'as Restaurant, 708 Cumberland Street.
At right, one of the prints from Mr. Acker's collection, a scene he came
upon in Istanbul, Turkey: a woman making flat
bread. His exhibit is part of the increasingly popular "First
Friday Art Walk," an event held the first Friday of each month
from to in downtown Lebanon.
Luckiest voters in Mt.Gretna?
the Campmeeting and Mt. Gretna Heights residents whose polling
place is the Quentin fire hall, where Peggy Whitman, 73 (inset,
right) bakes -- from scratch -- cookies, angel food cake and other
election day treats for those who stop
by to cast their ballots.
Mrs. Whitman, who has lived in Quentin since she was 10 years old and is
an election day official, wins the 'best polling place treats' award from
the Mt. Gretna Newsletter election day judges.
Runner up: Those wizards at the Lawn fire company, where Patsy Kline, (inset,
left) oversees voting booth operations for Mt.Gretna
voters living in Timber Hills, Conewago Hill and Timberbridge. (Mrs.
Kline, who plays the mandolin, is also a regular at those Monday night Bluegrass sessions at the La Cigale center in Mt.Gretna. See item below.)
Her talented bakers put out a veritable smorgasbord
-- with some treats offered for sale to benefit Lawn fire and
ambulance teams. They also roll out a tempting array of hot barbecue
sandwiches, cheeses, dips and finger foods for hungry voters. What the
ladies of Lawn are most famous for, however, are their soups -- which
they sell by the gallons, attracting customers from throughout South
 There's a lot of activity at the lake these days, including a new structure that suddenly popped up in front of
the beach and earth-moving equipment moving dirt along the parking area.
What's going on?
<> No, that new framed structure alongside the beach is not --
contrary to several rumors swirling about in recent weeks -- the first of
a bevy of air-conditioned rental cabanas being installed to lure the
upscale beachcomber crowd.
Instead, it'll simply replace a 12' x 12' tent that's been on the same
spot for several years and used to house first aid and lifeguard
equipment. (Photo above left and below right: Ed Landis)
As for the earth-moving activity in the lake's parking area last month,
that's part of a water management project designed to control and contain
storm water runoff.
A newly installed underground conduit will more efficiently divert water
into a swale that SouthLondonderryTownship installed some 15 years
ago to keep storm water out of the lake and direct it into a nearby
 What about all those unused canoes that the Chautauqua had removed
from the lake in 2008? How many remain unclaimed, and what's going to
happen to them?
<> About 17 of the canoes that were removed to the Mt. Gretna
Borough storage shed now, nearly two years later, remain unclaimed.
What's to become of them? That's up to the Chautauqua's 17-member board,
which will likely decide their fate at this month's board meeting.
Borough officials issued about 60 permits in 2009 for canoes now using
the newly installed racks on the lake's southern edge. At last count, 49
were were still there -- all with their properly affiexed permits --
following the summer season. Just how many were actually used at the lake
this past summer? No one's sure, but they do add colorful touches for
artists and photographers.
Have a speaker to suggest for Chautauqua's
University for a Day program next July? Need food tips from Chef
on the Go Becky Briody? What health topic would you like to learn
about? Which local authors would you like to hear speak in Mt.Gretna next summer?
Summer program coordinator Kathy Snavely wants to hear your ideas. She
and her committee also seek suggestions to celebrate the Hall of
Philosophy's 100th birthday. Drop her a note.
"DeeDee" Eckert Bretz (1965-2009)
The most radiant lights often burn out all too soon. Yet the warmth of
their glow lingers long after they are extinguished. Such was the life,
and legacy, of a woman known and loved by many in Mt.Gretna, where her parents chose to
make their home and where she herself added to the town's luster.
"DeeDee" Bretz illuminated many paths as a daughter, wife,
mother, realtor, office manager and friend. Born in Hershey on a day in
February 43 years ago, she died on a Friday before Thanksgiving, a day
that touched permanently the hearts of all who had known her.
She was a graduate of CedarCrestHigh
School, a member of Mt.Gretna's
where she had been a Sunday school teacher, a den mother and a past
president of the Parent-Teacher's group at Cornwall Elementary.
She leaves behind a husband and two children, a brother and two sisters,
and her parents, David and Darlene Eckert of Valley Road, who have given
so much to so many and now can count on their support and friendship in
Hundreds of people, perhaps as many as 500, turned out for a Celebration
of Life reception held at the Timbers on Sunday, Nov.29. Contributions in
lieu of flowers are being accepted by the Bretz Family Fund, c/o Kreamer
Funeral Home, 618 E. Main
St., Annville, PA17003.
The Gift of Mt.Gretna History:
A DVD with 140 photos and music chronicling the
1885 to 1935 story of the Pennsylvania
National Guard's Mt.Gretna encampment is now available.
Created by Jim Seltzer, the DVD
is on sale for $10 at the Mt. Gretna Area Historical
Society's headquarters, 206
Pennsylvania Ave. (Please add $2 if ordering
on sale: the recently republished pamphlet, "Mt.Gretna
Narrow Gauge Railroad, 1889-1915" by Jack Bitner: $6.95, or two for
$11.00 (Mail orders: please add $2.00). AND: Jack Bitner's two-set
DVDs on Mt. Gretna and the Narrow Gauge Railroad, $25.00 , or two for
$48.00. (Add $4.00 for mail orders.)
Society's headquarters is open Saturdays Dec. 4, 13 and 19 Send
mail orders to: Mt.Gretna Area
Historical Society, P. O.
Box 362, Mt.Gretna PA17064. Ask to be notified when Jack Bitner's "MountGretna: A Coleman Legacy" is
reprinted (expected sometime in 2010), or call Fred Buch toll free:
1-800-242-3901 to add your name to the notification mailing list.
A Tote-all answer for
your entire gift list!
It's a gift that everyone on your list who loves Mt.Gretna will treasure.
The Mt. Gretna Arts Council Tote Bag. . . perfect for all the
treasures they'll carry next year -- from the grocery store, to
family picnics, to the ball game and -- of course -- from Mt. Gretna's
outdoor art show. Original design created by Timber Hills Studio's Art
The cost: $5 each. All proceeds go to help the Arts Council provide
scholarships, artistic programs and that absolutely indispensable Summer
Calendar of Events. (Available locally
from any Arts
Council member and at Penn
Arts Council, P.O. Box 430,
Mt. Gretna, PA17064.
Be sure to add $4.00 for postage and handling.