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The Mt. Gretna Newsletter

Mt. Gretna, PA   "Not a place, but a spirit."       Marlin Seiders (1927-2008)

No. 150                                                                                                                                        May 1, 2014

 Even as we grow older, volunteers propel Mt. Gretna  

A marvelous engine runs on energies that larger communities find scarce ,

    You couldn't prove it under the microscope of Mt. Gretna, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that volunteer activities sagged to their lowest level in a decade last year. 

    What applies to the USA, however, apparently doesn't apply here. 

    "People step up to the plate in Mt. Gretna," says Rhoda Long, one of the area's busiest volunteers. "When something needs doing, somebody had better do it," she says. 

     That sums up in a nutshell why volunteerism works better in small towns than big cities. The more people there are, the easier it is to assume "somebody else will do it."   

     Ms. Long is one of an estimated 1,300 volunteers in this small village of 1,500 year 'rounders.  She and husband Chuck (inset) moved to Mt. Gretna in 2003 from Campbelltown, where they lived on a one-acre lot in a nice suburban development. Yet the only people they knew well there were their immediate neighbors. When they decided to move to Mt. Gretna, they knew hardly anyone.

"Volunteering is probably one of the best things we've ever done in our lives," says Rhoda Long 

     "We wanted to meet people, but we didn't know where to begin," she says. Then she and Chuck discovered a gold mine of opportunity: the Concession Stand at the Mt. Gretna Playhouse. 

      Suddenly they had more friends in Mt. Gretna than they ever had known in Campbelltown. "Now, when I walk down the street, I know practically everyone," she says. 

      An active Realtor, she has also spread her volunteer activities to include organizing fundraising trips to New York City for the Mt. Gretna Fire Company, served punch at organ recitals, escorted visitors on House Tours, helped out at the Cicada Festival, and wound up coordinating finger food donations each year at the annual Christmas Tree lighting. 

    Although she's only one of many volunteers, she's amazed at how much they get done. "Look at other communities our size. Even those with colleges don't pull off as much as we do, and they have a college backing them." 

    Yet even with such enthusiastic participation, nobody claims that Mt. Gretna's supply of volunteers is endless, or that all jobs get filled immediately. 

    Stories in this issue point to the need for a new Winterites president, for example. The 64-year-old group could collapse this year if no one steps forward to fill the now-vacant position of president. Also needed are volunteers to take over the Campmeeting Butterfly Garden and someone to run the Summer Premiere, a key fundraiser for the Arts Council.  

    Moreover, Mt. Gretna's population is getting older. 

    The 2000 Census showed the mean age of Mt. Gretna's citizens was a chipper 52. Ten years later, that statistic had edged up to 59.8. Now in 2014, it's likely that figure has already crept past 60 and may even be approaching 70 when the next Census comes up just six years from now. 

    Tempering those statistics, however, are several factors maybe unique to Mt. Gretna. 

     "Mt. Gretna is a family-oriented community," says Ms. Long, "and that family expands into making the community itself a family." 

     She also cites her own neighborhood of Timber Bridge, where several new babies are on the way.

   As a Realtor, she sees young couples suddenly discovering that "Mt. Gretna is a great place to raise children." She estimates that 40% of those helping at the Concession Stand are under 50. "We even have two twins in their 20s working alongside us," she says. 

     There's also what might be called the "Mt. Gretna attraction" factor: Volunteers who live in other places enjoy coming here to help out, people from Harrisburg, Lebanon, Elizabethtown and Mt. Joy. "We just like the atmosphere here," said one. 

     Volunteering doesn't require a passport and is open to everyone young and old, says Ms. Long. "All you need is a smile and a willingness to help." 

     MEMO to the Bureau of Labor Statistics: For your next volunteer study, carve out a special category for Small American Towns like Mt. Gretna.



The Mt. Gretna Newsletter  

2014 Listings   

Volunteer Opportunities

Art Sho (Aug. 16-17):

The No. 1 need this year is Booth Sitters, says Art Show Director Linda Bell (tel. 964-3270 or Barb Kleinfelter ( has now  stepped in to coordinate these critical assignments. "It's a great way to see the show from a wholly new perspective," she says.
   Other volunteer coordinators include, at Saturday admission gates: Sam Bonacci 964-3111. Sunday admission gates: Joe Shay, 964-2209; Office staff: Doug Leiby, 272-8871. Kids' Art Show: Stacey Pennington, Exhibitor traffic: Barney Myer, 964-2384. Soldier's Field and Philhaven area Parking: Bob Dowd, 964-1106.

Bible Festival:

Editor's note: This issue of the Mt. Gretna Newsletter includes a PDF attachment for the festival's 2014 season.

  The Mt. Gretna Bible Festival needs volunteers for duties that include greeting and hospitality, ushering and counting offerings. To sign up for volunteer assignments, contact Dave Pierce, Tel. 964-2301; email  ( Or Bruce Gettle Tel. 813-5319; email (
This year's festival includes 18 programs of religious music and speakers scheduled from June 15 through Aug. 24. Click
here to view the entire series.

Bird Club:   You won't believe the birds you'll discover under the expert guidance of Sid Hostetter and Evelyn Koppel, 964-3412 (
   The group meets Fridays at 9:00 am at the Chautauqua parking lot, weather permitting. It's usually a two-hour walk to observe birds, flora and fauna -- often topped off by a late breakfast at Le Sorelle.
  The club sometimes has projects for volunteers, and it's an enjoyable way to meet others and learn more about nature in and around Mt. Gretna. Bring binoculars if you have them.

Buzzard Busters: (Active November -March)
"The few, the proud, the Buzzard Busters," Max Hunsicker calls them. Volunteers safely encourage the migrating turkey vultures to choose to roost elsewhere, rather than in Mt. Gretna's treetops. He asks volunteers to keep noise to a minimum, using aerial explosives only when necessary and only just as dusk is settling in (before the vultures do) One thing is certain, he says: "If we stop, they'll be back." The migratory patterns of the past quarter century prove he's right. Contact:

Campmeeting Playground:
 Volunteers needed to help with projects including  annual carnival Saturday, July 5, from 12 pm to 2 pm. Contact Robin May, 964-1372.

Chautauqua Summer Programs:
 "We're happy to welcome volunteers who'll serve as hosts and hostesses for those who attend these programs," says coordinator Kathy Snavely (Tel. 964-2191 or The more than 170 programs offered in this series appear in the Arts Council's 2014 Summer Calendar.

Cicada Festival:
  Rhoda Long coordinates usher assignments, 304-0248 or Details of the current season appear online:

Concession Stand at Playhouse:
   A haven for visitors attending plays, concerts and other attractions at the Playhouse, this spot offers a chance to greet audiences, meet performers and neighbors who join you in this summertime role. Gary Shrawder coordinates volunteer activities at the stand. Contact: 272-2284 or

   Who makes the grounds surrounding Mt. Gretna dazzle with color each summer? A small army of folks. Some are paid but most are volunteers. To join those in your, contact any of the people mentioned in this article.
   Chances are they'll tell you it's the best of all assignments: make friends, make a difference, and maybe change your life by the difference you make.
   In the Campmeeting, Deborah Hurst ( has long been instrumental in coordinating volunteer gardening efforts at several locations. 
   Gardens include one at Bell Avenue tended by photographer Madelaine Gray, who is soon moving to Florida. Another is the Butterfly Garden begun in the late 1990s by former resident Edie Miller. That has been tended for the past decade by Jane Zellers and Deb Barnhart, whose work schedules force them to now surrender their duties.
   Who'll replace them? Volunteers are being sought, says Campmeeting supervisor Merv Lentz, now in his mid-80s. Until new volunteers are found, "we'll work on it ourselves." His indomitable spirit not only sets a standard, it inspires many in their 60s and 70s to get up and get going, a spirit quintessentially Mt. Gretnan.
   Around the Playhouse, summertime resident Betty Miller faithfully tended to the gardens for more years than even she can count. It is a labor of love that extends past the growing season and continues until the last leaf has fallen.
   Tending to plants around the Post Office are Borough staffers Bill Care and Linda Bell. Shirley Miller nurtures flower boxes at the Information Center. Carol Morgan maintains the Fairy Garden between the Jigger Shop and Playhouse.
   In Mt. Gretna Heights, volunteers interested in gardening projects should contact the Heights Community Association or newsletter editor Michelle Shay, Across the highway, the individual

gardening efforts of homeowners and well-managed enterprises such as Mt. Gretna Lake and Beach, Timber Hills Apartments and the Timbers Dinner Theatre are on display for all to see. . . and enjoy .
   Even with Mt. Gretna's natural beauty -- its trees, hills and comforting embrace -- flowers tended by loving hands make a difference that can be felt as well as seen. Take a bow, Mt. Gretna gardeners, wherever you live.

Grand Illuminations:
   Throughout the country, perhaps 30 Chautauqua and Campmeeting associations hold annual Grand Illumination events.
   Mt. Gretna, in fact, holds two.
   The first takes place over three days this year, July 3-5. It will celebrate Independence Day throughout Mt. Gretna -- from Timber Bridge and Timber Hills to the  Heights, Campmeeting and the Chautauqua.
   "We're encouraging everyone in the community to 'light up'," says co-ordinator Barb Kleinfelter.
  She and co-chairman Karl Gettle will have samples of string lights, luminaries and Chinese lanterns for orders at their booth outside the Mt. Gretna Post Office on the first two Saturdays of June. She'll also display them during the communitywide porch sale Saturday, May 24.   The second Grand Illumination is a quiet and respectful observance that takes place only in the Campmeeting, Saturday, Aug. 16. It honors a long-established tradition that traces to the 1950s. Youngsters who had finished church camp strolled through the historic grounds singing hymns. Campmeeting residents listened from their porches, accented with lights and lanterns for the occasion. Today's Campmeeting Association invites everyone throughout Mt. Gretna to walk through the grounds and enjoy the lights starting around 9 pm.
   How to volunteer for this event? Decorate your home or cottage with illuminated displays and designs of your choice. Honor the nation's birthday in July or the Campmeeting's venerable tradition in August.
  A display of national pride and community spirit? Yes, and both signature events that perhaps also tell others a bit more about Mt. Gretna. 

  Gretna Music:
   Sometimes it's better than a cash donation. Open your private home to a talented appearing at a Gretna Music concert. Each night's stay saves $200 on hotel costs. "If all of  our artists stayed with generous local hosts, we could add an extra concert to our season," says co-director Carl Kane. 
   Also needed: office help, writers and ushers.  Call 361-1508 or email

Gretna Theatre:
   The best way to help Gretna Theatre this year is to open a bedroom in your home to actors. Hotel costs are among the biggest line items in their budget. A week or two stay with you could reduce those costs and add a big plus sign to their season. To participate, you don't have to feed, entertain or transport actors.    Needed are homes with shared kitchens but private bedrooms and baths (for equity actors) as well as homes offering private bedrooms but shared baths and kitchens (for non-equity actors). Among them may be future Bernadette Peters or Charlton Hestons, both legendary alumni from Gretna Theatre's hall of fame.
   Chick and Karen Rhoads head the campaign to find homes in and around Mt. Gretna.
    In what other ways can you help? Name your talent and coordinator Renee Krizan has a need for it. Volunteer ushers, seamstresses, carpenters, box office staffers, painters. "Any skill you have, we can use," she says. Contact her at (964-3322 or
Governor Dick Park:
   Outdoors or indoors, the park welcomes volunteers.
   If your tastes lean toward outdoor activities, plenty of spots are open. With record numbers of hikers and nature enthusiasts last year, the park needs people to help with trail maintenance, painting, garden and lawn care.  
   Indoors, volunteers can go to work on light cleaning, office sitting or lead a program tailored to their area of expertise. Audrey Wells invites calls at 964-3808 or email

Heritage Festival:
   This popular "pay-what-you-want" festival gets off to another rousing start June 28 with a fourth consecutive appearance of the Lebanon Community Band. Then comes Stardust Memories making its Tabernacle with ballroom-era melodies July 5. The Shuey Brothers follow with their familiar blend of country, modern bluegrass and comedy July 12, and perennial Mt. Gretna vacationer Larry McKenna returns July 19 with "Songs that Remind Me of Mt. Gretna."         
   Coordinators Pat and Mike Allwein (964-2352) have picked the Lebanon Big Swing Band to again close the season July 26. "It's music guaranteed to make you want to dance," says Pat. She needs volunteers to help collect donations midway through the show and post flyers in spots outside Mt. Gretna.

   It's a summertime library Mt. Gretna calls its own, run by Deborah Hurst, a remarkable volunteer of long-standing who welcomes help. Contact her at

Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society:
   Volunteer coordinator Pat Pinsler welcomes those who can help with maintenance duties, work in the library/research room Saturdays 10 am to noon, or serve as museum docents on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 pm. Contact her at 964-3858 or
   The Society's book sale will be held this year on the porch of the Mt. Gretna Library Saturday, May 24 from 8 to 11 am.  Available will be Jack Bitner's Mt. Gretna: A Coleman Legacy as well as the Mt. Gretna Postcard Book, pamphlets on the Mt. Gretna Prison and Narrow Gauge Railroad, and the Jim Seltzer and Jack Bitner DVD "The Military at Mt. Gretna."  Fred Buch is chairman of the Society: 717-466-6433, email:

Mt. Gretna Fire Company:
   Topping the list again this year is a need for fire police volunteers. In addition to firefighters, of course, is also a special request for folks who can help tend the fire company's garden -- watering, weeding and filling bird feeders. (All it takes is an hour or two, except for those hot, dry spells when extra watering is called for.)
   Where to sign up? Joe Shay, 964-1106 or, and Karen Lynch, 964-3505 or

Mt. Gretna Tour of Homes: (Aug. 2)
recommended by The New York Times as one the top tours in the Northeast, the Mt. Gretna Tour of Homes is coordinated by Emi Snavely, Over more than a quarter century it has become the signature fundraising event for Music at Gretna, one of the nation's premiere music festivals. Suzanne Stewart, 361-1510, needs volunteers to help greet visitors, distribute maps and answer questions in morning or afternoon shifts on Saturday, Aug. 2, from 10 am to 5 pm.
   Homeowners chosen for the 2014 Tour of Homes will receive a plaque to honor their selection.

Organ R
  This Thursdays-in-July series begins July 3 (
click here for details) at the Hewitt-McAnney residence opposite the Post Office with a sparkling lineup. All recitals begin at 7 pm.
   Rhoda Long, 304-0248 or, coordinates refreshments provided by volunteers. Contributions appreciated.

Summer Premiere: (May 24)
   Jessica Kosoff, and Debbie Clemens, 304-3915. This annual fundraiser -- essential to the support of Mt. Gretna Arts Council's Summer Calendar -- needs someone to head this endeavor in future years. (See story below).

   Already attracting thousands of hikers, cyclists and other outdoors enthusiasts every week, the rail-trail runs through Mt. Gretna and when finished will stretch nearly 33 miles from one end of Lebanon County to the other.
  Coordinators of this well-conceived, well-managed recreational attraction need volunteer help throughout the year. Mike Dissinger, 949-2367, schedules trail clean-up days; John Wengert ( posts e-mail bulletins for other volunteer tasks -- including public relations, fundraising, trail development, and help with the LVRT Website.
   Also needed are volunteers to staff the Root Beer Barrel in Cornwall on weekends May to October.
   Lebanon Valley Rails-to-Trails meets first Wednesdays of the month, Cornwall Borough Hall, 7 pm.

The Mt. Gretna Triathlon:
   Coming up May 17, the 11th annual Got the Nerve? Triathlon sponsored by the IM ABLE Foundation needs volunteers to help in all aspects of the race Friday, May 16th from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (for pre-race set ups) and Saturday, May 17th from  6:00 am to noon (for race activities). To register as a volunteer go to 

Visitor Information Center: Looking for excuses to relax in a rocker on a shaded porch this summer? Patty Gokey and Barb Kleinfelter have what you're looking for. They need volunteers greet folks at the Visitors Center and answer questions that sometimes call for imaginative responses: "Do people really live in these houses?" and "I must have taken a wrong turn. How the heck did I get here?"
   Busiest days are weekends. Busiest hours regardless of the day are 2 to 4 pm. They welcome help at any time, however. Leave a message at 964-5119 or sign up Saturday mornings this month at their booth outside the Post Office.

   As this issue went to press, it was unclear whether this group, with a storied 64-year-old tradition, would continue next year. So far, they have only one of three offices filled and are still seeking a president. Meetings are held October to April on the first Tuesday afternoon of each month.
 What's at stake? A gathering that adds much to the lives of many. A monthly spark to sometimes lonely winter afternoons that warms the heart, a place where people - both men and women - come for socialization and to learn more about the place where they live. Finding a new leadership team to rekindle that light is now needed in a community that thrives year-round on get-togethers with friends.    For the past decade, the budget for all those summertime lectures, cooking demonstrations, stained glass workshops, book reviews and dozens of other Mt. Gretna programs has remained unchanged. That's right. In 10 years, the budget hasn't budged.
   What Chautauqua, NY does on a $7,000,000 budget is out of our range. But what our team does with $6,500 each year is downright amazing.
   The local foundation's president, author Bill Gifford, who organizes the popular Writers' Series, thinks we can do better.
   He's sending out a plea this month to all who live here. (
Click here to read his breezy appeal, unlike most you'll see.)
   He'd like us to donate what we can to keep this program going, maybe lift it a notch or two, and keep Mt. Gretna summers humming with interesting things.
   Even if we never attend a lecture, learn a craft or take part in a mind-lifting discussion at the Hall of Philosophy, all of us have a stake in keeping the spark in Mt. Gretna summers.
   Ever wonder what local Realtors think would happen to property values if Mt. Gretna summers suddenly fell silent?
   They'd probably shave a few thousand dollars right off the top.
   Something for us to think about when we're writing a tax-deductible check to support the Pennsylvania Chautauqua Foundation, P.O. Box 637, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064.

   The Mt. Gretna School of Art
may soon have a permanent headquarters in the Chautauqua of Pennsylvania. Inspired by the Chautauqua Institution in New York, the non-profit school opened last year to some 20 art students throughout the country. It has since attracted enthusiastic support from donors, including generous benefactors who have offered matching funds.
   The school must first obtain permission from Chautauqua stockholders at their meeting this summer. The school needs approval to convert a cottage fronting on Pinch Road that has been little-used over the past several years. Conversion to a six-week school for art students each summer appears to be an ideal use of a vacant structure.
   The converted cottage would also be available for other uses throughout the remainder of the year. One thing is sure: where they've succeeded elsewhere, art schools have had an uplifting effect on the entire community, as the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design in Lancaster and schools throughout the country have proven.    

   Elizabeth Wein, who grew up in Mt. Gretna and divides her time between the U.S. and Scotland, knows a lot about children's books and has written some of the best.
   In The New York Times last month, she
reviewed three new books written by others -- "heart-stopping journeys of child survivors" of the Holocaust.
   She returns in July for a visit with her grandmother, Mt. Gretna Heights resident Betty Flocken. She will also speak at the Chautauqua Summer Series Saturday, July 26 about her latest award-winning novel,
Rose Under Fire.



   Whatever happened to that big happy family who lived, played and laughed in the cottage at the end of Princeton Avenue?  Well, when Evan (rhymes with seven but actually No. 8) arrived last fall, Greta and Scott Adams decided it was time to move to larger quarters. So Evan, now 5 mos., Rainie (a twin, 6), Seth 8, Owen 12, Gabe 10, Drew (the other twin, 6), Nate, 4, and Theo, 2, left Mt. Gretna with their parents in February. 
   They found a farm in Pellyton, KY., where Mt. Gretna photographer Jane Mourer caught up with them last month and stayed for a few days to help them get settled. "If anyone had told me I'd have this many children, I would never have believed them," says Greta. Yet as the photo shows, she couldn't be happier.

   If you wanted to make a big splash at the start of a season, there's no better w than with the Canadian Brass. They're lead-off hitters for Music at Gretna's summer season at the Playhouse, starting Tuesday, July 1.   
   They've been on Billboard charts in each decade of their 40-year history, played as the first brass ensemble ever to appear on Carnegie Hall's main stage, and recorded over 100 CDs and DVDs. 
Tickets are on sale now.
   Better hurry. This one's a likely early sell-out., the Mt. Gretna Borough's new mascot, had no idea what he was in for when he signed on as staffer Joey Wise's snowplow sidekick.
   Yet day in and day out, nighttime too, he
faithfully accompanied Joey in what turned out to be a long, long winter.
    Take a close look at Chance in this photo by Campmeeting resident (and Milton Hershey School horticultural adviser) Nan McKay. His eyes say it all: "It's high time for the Summer Premiere to begin." See story (below).

   Where's the globe-trotting Mt. Gretna flamingo this month? Back down South, still shivering from his adventurous trip up north where he witnessed a few late-season snow showers but nevertheless wound up on national TV.
   This month finds him along the South Carolina coast, hobnobbing with the yachting crowd where he ran into Val and Ruth Karabcevschy (inset), Mt. Gretna newsletter readers from suburban Harrisburg.
   When they're at home in Colonial Park, they like to drop in at the Playhouse for Gretna Theatre and Gretna Music productions.
    Ruth is a former human resources director. Val recently finished his career as an executive at Tyco. Together they enjoy traveling and seeing the world. Their serendipitous encounter with the Mt. Gretna flamingo proved just part of the fun.
    The flamingo's mission: twofold. Spread the word that  Mt. Gretna is "the best small town in America that nobody ever heard of." And raise money for the Mt. Gretna fire company, which offers flamingos in a dozen different guises for sale at La Cigale.       
   Technically, you have to adopt one. But for a fire company donation of $100 or more, he's yours to keep. No two are alike. All are displayed at La Cigale, along Route 117.   
    Mt.Gretnans now take flamingos all over the world to photograph by the Great Wall of China, along the Seine, and in other majestic ports of call or even with celebrities.
    Have a spot in your suitcase for a flamingo on your next trip? Stop by La Cigale and talk to the engaging, enigmatic John Mitchell. He'll help you pick out one that will make a perfect travel companion.



The 2014 Summer Premiere,
the start of a new era

   Amid the music, art, wine and excitement of a live auction and reunions with friends, there likely will be a touch of nostalgia at this year's Summer Premiere. Especially for Debbie Clemens, its lively founder and guiding light over the past three decades.

     True, it is the social event of the season. Mt. Gretna's official launch into summer. A time when people reconnect, when newcomers are welcomed and the leap into summer begins.

     Yet this year is likely to be the last Summer Premiere under the guiding hand of the estimable Ms. Clemens, whose deft sense of art and opportunity turned a routine press conference 30 years ago into an annual party that everyone in Mt. Gretna has enjoyed ever since.  

     In the process, she created a fundraiser par excellence. An engine that fuels what her daughter (and co-chair of the event) Jessica Kosoff calls The Bible of Mt. Gretna-- a  catalog of events known as The Summer Calendar.

     Auctions silent and live ignite this highly anticipated event. Food and friends are the essential festive ingredients.

     When it's over, Arts Council planners hope to have raised about $10,000 to pay for the calendar -- a handbook to keep tabs on more than 200 plays, lectures, concerts, recitals, stained glass workshops and other events that take place here every summer.

With the cover artwork for this year's calendar, Debbie Clemens displays Carol Snyder's quoits bed painting -- among the auction's most-coveted items.

      Yet to Ms. Clemens, success means something else. Something she wanted to create when she turned an otherwise dull Saturday afternoon limited to the press into an "event," a date on the calendar that everyone would look forward to.  

      It also means for her "getting back into the groove for another wonderful summer at Mt. Gretna," she says. 

        And to Jessica, who's assisted her for the past six years, success means an event that everyone enjoys as much as her Mother.  

       Yet now Debbie senses that it's time to turn to other priorities. Her 12 grandchildren, for instance. And the achievements of four children, including her youngest daughter Catlin, an infant when the Summer Premiere first started. (She's now in her second year of residency as a doctor in Harrisburg and a mother herself.)

       "Most people have terms of office that last four, maybe eight years. I've been running the Summer Premiere for most of my life," she says. She hopes to now find time for gardening, grandchildren and gatherings of her family both here and in North Carolina, where she and Dr. Tom Clemens have a vacation home.   

    Mostly she seeks time to simply relax and enjoy fond memories. Over the years the Summer Premiere has yielded some of her best.  

       This year, in addition to the auction of a painting of the historic Mt. Gretna quoits bed by Carol Snyder will be another work created on the spot at this year's Premiere. Mt. Gretna artist Fred Swarr, whose paint-to-music magic is now legendary, mesmerizes audiences as his sudden inspirations unfold on a canvas right before their eyes.

     Also will be the maybe 100 items up for auction, mostly contributed by artists at last year's Outdoor Art Show.

     New categories will include donated services by area firms and specialists. Mt. Gretna Borough staffer Joey Wise, for example, will offer lawn care services. Jessica hopes to secure a few vacation rentals this year.

   "It's not just about art," she says. "Many of us already have too much of that. We're looking for different items." Anyone with items to donate -- such as that attractive planter which drew spirited bidding last year -- will be especially welcome as the date for this year's Premiere, Saturday, May 24, draws nearer.

     So if Debbie Clemens will not be in charge next year, who will?

    "We're working on that," says her daughter, probably the only native-born Mt. Gretnan to have lived in the Campmeeting, Chautauqua and Mt. Gretna Heights. 

     Yet it probably won't be Jessica. With two daughters still at home, daily trips to and from school, two part-time jobs (as an engineer and realtor), preparing dinners for the girls and husband Ed, her duties as a soccer coach and taking her daughters to piano lessons and soccer practice there's little time left. "If I have 20 extra minutes, I vacuum," she laughs.  

     So the Arts Council is seeking a successor.  

     "One thing you can be sure of, the Summer Premiere will continue, affirms Jessica.

    "It what makes the summer begin," says her Mom. "I just hope I won't miss it. After all, I'm a Gemini. I've got to be busy." 

     NOTE: This year's Summer Premiere will be held in the Hall of Philosophy Saturday, May 24 starting at 4 pm; (it usually continues until around 6 pm, when the last items are sold). Admission is $20 with food, wine and music and silent and live auctions by Hess Auction Services of Manheim. The dress? "Nothing's expected," says Ms. Kosoff with a smile. "Some come casual, others dressy. This is Mt. Gretna."   



Another way to celebrate:

Entrance signs proclaim the Campmeeting's national honor.  

   Although more than 88,000 sites have made it to the National Register of Historic Places, nowhere will you find folks more proud than residents of the Mt. Gretna Campmeeting.
   Banners, brass plaques, logos on official stationery, speeches and honors at public ceremonies. All are part of a year-long celebration to commemorate the Campmeeting's national award in 2013.     
    Now comes another heralding emblem. Six new signs proclaim the achievement, together with cherished Campmeeting traditions: Tranquil, Spiritual, and Cultural. They are now going up at entrances surrounding the historic grounds.
    Credit an enthusiastic group led by Ben Wiley, a former printing company owner in Lancaster who traces his family's ancestral roots to the Campmeeting's founding.
   For a 122-year-old community, the signs add a distinctive modern touch. Made of a durable high-density urethane and sandblasted on three levels, they are designed to keep their textured appearance for years.  Focal point of the signs is a Ta

Goldendoodle Sophie, 5, and Golden Retriever Beau, 8, join owner Geri Bensamen for a first look at the Campmeeting's bright new entrance sign.

bernacle sketch done for the 1892 Centennial by Andy Shemeta. He is the son of former residents Anne and Joe Shemeta and now heads his own advertising company in York, Pa.

   Although at $500 apiece the signs are not an insignificant cost, Mr. Wiley and his fellow planners have that expense already covered. Commemorative Historic Register brass plaques were sold at $75 each to residents last year and now appear on cottages throughout the Campmeeting.
    The achievement is worth touting. Such listings can sometimes take 20 years or more to achieve.   

    Former resident Tom Meredith led a team that completed the application in six years, documenting some 255 different structures. 

   Now in his 90s, Mr. Meredith has also made "invaluable contributions" to the Mt. Gretna Chautauqua's quest for Historic Register status, says president John Feather.
   Also founded in 1892, the Chautauqua is now advancing toward Historic Register status through a project led by recently retired restaurant executive Earl Lennington.  He hopes to soon present an initial survey to the Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission.
   That will be a first step toward final approval by the National Park Service National Historic Register, a complex process that may take several more years.  



"God speaks to me through. . . (fill in the blank)" 

Ecumenical series starts here  

On four Friday nights in June. 

    As an emergency room physician, Tom Heberling sometimes wanted to suggest -- when options had run out and a patient's chances seemed slim -- "let's pray."
   "I never felt comfortable about doing that," he says. "You don't have much time for such things in the ER."

Gathered where they'll launch a new ecumenical series are, from left: Rev. Dick and Pat Gardner, Dave and Darlene Eckert, and Dr, Tom and Kay Heberling. Absent for the photo were Linda and Jim Campbell, who will also help get this weekly series underway in June. 

   Now retired, he has more time for such thoughts.
  His friend Dave Eckart, a shuffleboard companion, had struggled with thoughts of his own. After he lost two daughters and a grandson to three separate terminal illnesses,"there was a time when I blamed God," said Dave, who had spent more than 30 of his 80 years on the shipping docks of a large trucking firm. "But I realized that wasn't right." He and wife Darlene have been a part of Mt. Gretna for nearly half a century.
   Both men are part of a group that wants to bring a different perspective on religion this summer. They're launching a short Friday night series that, if it proves popular, might extend into a summer-long program next year.
   But first things first. They have to give this year's
Friday-nights-in-June series a try.
A lot of people can't come to church on Sundays, they figure. Others want to hear how other churches answer questions that everyone has.
   They've chosen a theme that a minister from one of four different denominations will express each week: "God Speaks to Us Through ---- ) each speaker filling in the blank -- "through Nature" on one Friday night, "through the Sacraments" on another,  and "through His Word," and "through Adversity and Suffering" on the others.
   It's a theme that came to Dr. Heberling after many years in the ER. "I don't think you practice medicine without seeing God at work," he says. 
   Might he speak on that topic himself? "I'll just be happy to introduce the speakers," he says, a smile coming through his voice during a telephone interview last month.
   The series will run at the Tabernacle, a spot where Friday nights were open and many people find it convenient to cluster as they return to their cottages for the weekend.
   It's an addition to, rather than a part of, the Bible Festival, which draws large crowds to its Saturday and Su programs.
   For Dr. Heberling, who grew up in Lebanon County, the Tabernacle is the perfect venue. He and wife Kay have lived next door to the historic structure for the past 27 years.
   "We'd like to give people the opportunity to experience religion in an ecumenical way," he says.
    "It might go big or fall flat,' says Dave Eckert, whose friendship with Dr. Tom developed "at just the right time in our lives."
   "If it's going to work, there's nothing to hold us back from doing it again next year," he adds.
    The doctor, who retired from the emergency room two years ago after a career in medicine that spanned four decades, says he'll consider the venture a success "if just 40 people show up" during this trial season.
   You don't place odds on such things. But if you did, you'd probably bet on this one.




Laura Catherine LeFevre (nee Flowers) 1951-2014

   A summer resident since 1958, Laura Catherine Flowers LeFevre, known to her friends as Cathy, grew up treasuring Mt. Gretna. She cherished its joys into marriage, motherhood and as a grandmother.

   In an obituary composed by her brother Timothy, also a long-time summer resident,  he cited her athleticism in games of Capture the Flag by avoiding roots and rocks in the woods at night, remain upright, and thus outwit competitors beset by bruised shins and knees.

   Also is the account of a mysterious incident of pebble-tossing onto the Playhouse roof. Investigated by former Police Chief William Sutcliff, her brother reports that Cathy and her cohorts pleaded the Fifth and the case remains unsolved.

  A graduate of Columbia University School of Nursing, she worked as an intensive care nurse in a Washington, D.C. hospital and later married a physician. They had two daughters and celebrated the birth of their first grandson two years ago.

   Throughout her life, summers at Mt. Gretna -- where she triumphed at golf and the artistry of family gatherings -- remained "her great joy and release from city life," her brother recalls.

   From the porch of a Brown Avenue cottage their parents, Dr. Robert and Sara Flowers, had purchased from the Clarence Schock estate, she greeted visitors and passers-by, seated in a rocking chair always placed "just so" to catch cool breezes wafting up the hill.

    She took in stride exigencies of life, at ease in a century-old cottage known for cranky terracotta pipes, nighttime visits by bats, and raccoons rummaging through trash cans "redolent of sweet-corn husks."

   In the tribute to his sister, Timothy cited her belief "in the essential Mt. Gretna of old" -- its art, music and the Mt. Gretna Fire Company, together with keys to her passion that included Preserve Mt. Gretna, the Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society and her life-long pass to Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach where she learned to swim and completed her final laps last summer.

   She died at peace in her Alexandria, Va. home March 16.

   Contributions may be made in her name to the Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society, PO Box 362, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064.





Bill Shoals photo











Sharon Solie's   ham & bean soup



Friday, May 2:         (Click here for gallery locator map)

First Fridays are back with art and music at galleries and studios. Artist Seamus Carmichel, also a singer, appears at Penn Realty. At Le Sorelle Restaurant and Gallery: Paintings by artist Jeanette Leid (inspired by a lifelong love of botanicals) and music by violinist Reaghan Harvey (a Suzuki prodigy from age 4 who has twice performed at Carnegie Hall). Also on display: Fractur, paintings of Mt. Gretna, abstracts, florals and other still life from resident artists Susan Wentzel, Randy Snader, Bill Barlow, Carol Snyder, Carol Hartman, Heike Fleming, Barbara James, Barbara Fishman and Marcia Judd.

At The Gallery at La Cigale, following a quiet dedication to the late Susie Afflerbach, a reception for artists Steve Wetzel, Robert Heilman and Sylvia Eisenbise Lehman with music by Matt Miskie and wine samples from West Hanover Winery.
At the Timbers, Matt Chambers displays explorations in color and composition as this month's featured artist. Tom and Greg Strohman perform with Steve Meashey and Dave Lazorick. That builds on winter-long string of First Fridays, each month drawing bigger crowds says Tap Roberts. (Husband Andy will be the featured musician at their Mothers' Day
buffet when maybe even daughter Nicole will be back from Boston's Berkeley School of Music).
Most locations open 5 to 8 pm; Timbers dinners continue til 9 pm.

Saturday, May 3:

Kentucky Derby Party honoring the late artist Susie Afflerbach, with proceeds going to her favorite charity, the Lebanon Humane Society. 4 to 7 pm at the Mt. Gretna Inn. Peggy Seibert (email) has details.

Blooms & More Festival. Spring flowers and plants, silent auction, antiques appraisals, kids games, breakfast of pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon and baked oatmeal followed by lunch (11 AM-1 PM) with homemade baked goods, soft pretzels, apple dumplings & more (click here). Cornwall Manor 9 am - 1pm.     


Block Shoot. Make no mistake: the real target is that prize-winning ham and bean soup, honed for over a century from Grandma McKeone's secret recipe. And yes, prizes for shooter contestants who are always happy to shoot for those who don't own a shotgun. A Fire Company fundraiser that's fun for everyone. Noon to 5 pm.  


Sunday, May 4:

Fitness Hike. Fast-paced 4- to 5-mile hike to improve your cardiovascular fitness. Governor Dick Park, 9 am 



Winterites: Mt. Gretna resident Victor Bojko, captured with his family as they attempted to escape Ukraine in 1944 and loaded onto box cars destined for a German death camp, describes a return visit to his homeland last year at this special snow-delayed meeting, 1 pm in the fire hall. All are welcome.  


Friday, May 9:
Toddlers in Tow. A woodland walk for ages 1-5, crafts, fun in the outdoors. No strollers, please. Governor Dick Park, 10 am.

Birds and Wildflowers Walk. Bring binoculars and field guides if you can. Governor Dick Park, 8 am.

Webelos Scouts Naturalist Pin Workshop. $5 per Scout. Bring lunch. Governor Dick Park, 10 am - 1 pm

Introduction to Bouldering. Learn about this sport. Children welcome with an adult. Shoes available if you call ahead, $3.  Governor Dick Park, 1 - 4 pm. Rain date: May 17. Night and pre-Mother's Day dinner
Le Sorelle
Restaurant and Gallery (where daughter Amy, who took this photo, is manager). Reserve your 6:30 pm seating by May 5.
online menu.


Triathlon in Mt. Gretna:11th annual Got The Nerve?, a race for athletes of all abilities to see what they're capable of. Surprising. 8 am - Noon.  


Tree Identification Walk. Master Arborist Jon Schach identifies trees and their characteristics. Governor Dick Park, 1 pm.


Saturday, May 24:

Porch sales throughout the Campmeeting and the Chautauqua, 8 am - 2 pm. To list your location on area distributed at the Post Office, contact Dave Hartman in the Campmeeting (964-2381 or or Barney Myer in the Chautauqua (964-2384). Deadline: May 16. 

Note: Timber Hills holds its neighborhood yard sale the following Saturday,  May 31; (see note below). Why a separate date? "To allow folks time to attend both sales," says thoughtful organizer Deb Haney.  


Summer Premiere, the season-opening fundraiser and signature social event of the year at the Hall of Philosophy, with wine, food, music, silent and live auctions, and a live paint-to-music exhibition by Fred Swaar. A 30-year tradition for all Mt. Gretnans. Admission: $20. 4-6 pm or until the last items are sold. (See story, this issue.)  

Sunday, May 25:

Birds and Wildflowers Walk will note changes in bird and flower species since the May 10 walk (above). Bring binoculars and field guides. Governor Dick Park, 1:30 pm


Saturday, May 31:

Timber Hills Neighborhood Yard Sale (with hot dog sales for the Mt. Gretna Fire Co. at one Valley Road site); rain or shine, 8 am - 1 pm.

(Barb Close needs map locations by May 20.)


Don't forget:

Mt. Gretna's new year-round calendar appears online, a service of the Mt. Gretna Arts Council. Email listings and updates to Jennifer Veser Besse at   






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