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Mt. Gretna E-Mail Newsletter No. 36, May 17, 2004

FOR ARTISTS & ATHLETES: A “PERFECT VENUE” --- YEAR-‘ROUND
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Year of the Cicada? Maybe.

But in Mount Gretna, this is also the Year of The Outdoor Athletes.

Outdoor recreation is changing the tempo of life here --- transforming this century-old community from a summertime center for culture and the arts into a year-‘round haven for people who delight in the outdoors.

Even with their deafening mating calls, Brood X cicadas could be overshadowed this year by all the cyclists, runners, horseback riders and hikers streaming into town. At least two major athletic events are scheduled. More may be on the way as Mount Gretna’s lakes, hills and trails beckon with ever-increasing allure.

At the end of last week, over 260 competitors had signed on for the first of this year’s competitions --- the Mount Gretna “Got The Nerve” Minitriathlon.

Organizer Chris Kaag, who’s donating proceeds to research into neurodegenerative disorders at the Myelin Project, says he thinks that between now and when the race gets underway at 9:30 a.m. May 29, as many as 400 competitors may register. (Kaag is himself a victim of degenerative nerve disease. His affliction left the 27-year-old former Marine dependent on two canes and a wheelchair six years ago.) View contest details at http://active.com/event_detail.cfm?event_id=1117192

Next on the horizon is a major race Aug. 8, the Nissan-sponsored Xterrra Series, an offroad competition that’s one of 70 in the country leading to national and international events later this year in Lake Tahoe and Maui. Mount Gretna is the only Pennsylvania site in the series.

Organizer Brad Kurtz says all details of the offroad Xterra point series triathlon aren’t yet nailed down. But it’s likely the event will take place as scheduled (and as already described on the website http://www.eventimpact.com/events.html.)

Kurtz knows all about promoting and conducting Xterra races. An Ephrata native, he spent 11 years in Hawaii helping organize the international Xterra series (now reportedly “the fastest-growing multi-sport event in the world.”) He and his wife returned here last fall to be closer to their families. Shortly afterwards, Kurtz and his son stopped by Mount Gretna, where he had enjoyed the lake and hills as a youngster. As they strolled around town, suddenly an idea dawned: “Wouldn’t this be a great venue for a triathlon?”

Competitors from across the country, “probably 200 this year --- maybe 400 or 500 as the event gets better known” --- are expected to arrive here Aug. 8. They’ll compete for Xterra points and prizes. A half-mile lake swim, 15-mile mountain bike ride, and five-mile run are part of the off-road competition leading to the national and world championships. Kurtz says half the race’s proceeds will go toward preserving Governor Dick Park. See http://www.eventimpact.com/events.html

Following Xterra, at least one other major athletic competition appears to be in the works for later this year. We’ll have details next month.

As this newsletter noted last January, the newly constructed rail-trail, cycling's surging popularity and the growing attractiveness of trails winding through Governor Dick park and its surrounding gamelands intensify Mount Gretna’s appeal. Long a cultural magnet for artists, writers, musicians and other artisans (many of whom now are permanent residents), Mount Gretna is quickly evolving into a year-‘round mecca for growing numbers who have shunned sedentary lifestyles, preferring instead a more vigorous taste of the outdoors.


MEANWHILE, A FULL AGENDA
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Summer’s agenda is filling up --- especially for May 29’s grand opening. Some highlights:

<> A widely heralded community porch sale --- accented by chicken barbeques, dulcimer melodies and a mountain string band --- will help residents sell unwanted items and raise money for several community groups, including the fire company, church, Heritage Festival and Chautauqua Foundation.

Also on tap May 29: A “take what you want, pay what you want” book sale at the community library.

Bruce Gettle is overseeing porch sale details for the Campmeeting. Barney Myer is coordinating the porch sale in Chautauqua. To list your porch on Guidemaps that bargain hunters will receive May 29, call 964-1830 by May 22.

Planners also expect a big turnout for the annual Summer Premiere, marking the season’s official start. The annual gala begins May 29 at 4:00 p.m. in the Community Building and will raise money to underwrite the Arts Council’s summer calendar. Silent and live auctions for works donated by last year’s Mount Gretna art show exhibitors --- plus creations by stained glass artist Dale Grundon and the 2004 calendar illustration (Susan Wentzel’s watercolor of Mount Gretna Park as it appeared in the early 1900s) are among the attractions.

In other news as the season gets underway. . .

<> Safety and financial concerns led officials to cancel this year’s fireworks display. Fireworks have been part of Mount Gretna’s Fourth of July celebrations since the turn of the century. Financial problems cancelled the 1976 fireworks, but the late Tom Ebright got them started again the following year, mainly through private and public donations. The displays have grown more popular, attracting larger crowds each year. Police and other local authorities are now mulling over whether the tradition should ever be revived and, if so, on a presumably smaller scale.
Even without fireworks, the traditional July 4 band concert will continue with the candle-lighting tradition and 45th annual appearance of the Rehrersburg Keystone Band.

<> PennDOT paperwork delays may postpone construction on that $144,000 rail-trail extension into Mount Gretna. John Wengert, the volunteer who spearheaded Lebanon Valley’s Rail-Trail into a 15-mile project enjoyed by thousands of hikers, bikers, runners and horseback riders, says it’s likely the link into Mount Gretna won’t happen until next year, rather than this fall as originally hoped.

Meanwhile, Congressman Tim Holden and others will officially open the Rail Trail’s Phase III section in ceremonies at the Cornwall iron trestle June 5. The one-mile stretch from Route 72 to Cornwall is the rail trail’s next-to-last phase. A fourth phase stretching about two miles, from Zinns Mill Road to the Lebanon Daily News site, will complete the project.

John says he hopes a grant may help purchase a new mower to cut grass alongside the trail. With or without the mower, volunteers will still need to turn out on trail clean-up days. The next ones are scheduled May 22 and June 26, starting at 9:00 a.m. at the Colebrook trailhead. See http://www.lvrailtrail.com/

<> As of this morning, Verizon Wireless says it is “in the process of pursuing options” to get cellular service started here. Network engineers added, “because we are now in that process, we can’t divulge details.” Spokesperson Laura Merritt emphasizes that Verizon’s network director “is well aware” of Mount Gretna’s need for cellular phone service. The company predicted last month that site negotiations and regulatory hurdles likely would delay construction on a cell tower until sometime next year. The tower will support both cellular and public emergency communications antennas.

<> Also as of this morning, the Brood X cicadas still haven’t popped out of the ground. When they do, we’ll know it. Postmaster Steve Stickler remembers them from 17 years ago. “You could hear ‘em as you drove along the road with the air conditioner on and windows rolled up.” Gretna Theater’s Keith Volker doesn’t know if the chirping will affect performances at the playhouse, which is installing a new sound system engineered by world-renown Clair Brothers Audio. “This should be fun,” he says.

<> Public works chief Bill Care is prepared for the cicada onslaught, especially after the 1-1/2 inch-long insects finish their 17-year mission, molt, mate and then (after singing their hearts out for three or four weeks) expire --- leaving their exoskeletons behind. Bill says that new Toolcat the borough bought recently has a special attachment, a cicada scooper.


MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN JUST HALF AN HOUR
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“Second Saturdays,” the volunteer gardening group dedicated to sprucing up Mount Gretna, plans its next outing the second Saturday of June (the 12th). Sue Loehr (273-6674 or 964-2225) says they’ll get started at a new time --- 9 a.m. --- and be done in half an hour.

She needs just a few more helping hands to join her and Robin May. Betty Miller and Peg Smith are handling green thumb chores at the Playhouse. Barney and Cindy Meyer attend to areas around the post office. She’d like volunteers to sign up for duties at the information center, traffic island and the open area just west of the parking lot.


NO ORDINANCES, THANKS. THE GOLDEN RULE WILL DO.
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A reader wrote last year saying their traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner at Mount Gretna had been ruined. “All day long, a neighbor cleaned up the area around his cottage with a leaf blower. We couldn’t enjoy the meal. We couldn’t carry on a conversation. We couldn’t, even briefly, enjoy the outdoors.”

Which brings this reminder as spring cleanups begin: Although Mount Gretna has no laws against them (leaf blowers and power washes weren’t invented when the “no noise before 7:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m.” construction rules went into effect), courtesy and thoughtful consideration of others ARE part of a long-standing tradition in a place where quiet is treasured and contemplative calm revered.

Noise, of course, is only one concern. There are others. The Campmeeting, for example, gently reminds everyone to think of others by waiting until Sunday nights to put out their trash. If weekenders must leave before then, they usually find neighbors willing to lend a hand.

Such thoughtful considerations, say readers, make a big difference in the quality of all our lives. That’s more than a Mount Gretna tradition. It’s simply another reason why, after thousands of years, no one’s come up with an ordinance that beats the Golden Rule.


ON TECHNOLGY’S FOREFRONT (70 YEARS AGO)
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Don Fowler, who was born in Mount Gretna, sends these “random recollections” of what it was like growing up here in the late 1920s and 1930s:

--- “The clink of the quoits and ka-ching of the score register at the quoits pits. The music of summer campmeetings. The huff and chuff of a train climbing to the summit on its 3:00 a.m. trip to Lebanon.”

--- “Season tickets to the beach cost $7.50.”

--- “Three miniature golf courses - Pine Brook, one at the Chautauqua tennis courts and another behind Jake Stober's beer garden. (Jake had a sign behind the bar, ‘Pickled Eggs-.04. Rooster tax-.01. Total-.05’).”

--- “Mrs. Mussina, telephone operator at the manual switchboard, ushering in Mount Gretna’s early entrance to modernity: a dial exchange in the late thirties, before anyone else had such up-to-date technology. She also issued permits to trek up to Governor Dick.”

--- “We kids played at the stone quarry and the brick plant, skated on the porch of the old Kaufman Hotel (probably annoying people with the racket), and watched marathon dancers at Gretna Gables dance hall. (When the Gables was open, the Campmeeting Association always closed the gate at night.)”

--- “Gene Otto, Sr. allowed us to play penny ante poker at the Stand after closing time, with the admonition, ‘Turn out the light and lock up the juke box when you leave.’”

--- “The big snow of 1935-‘36, when many cottages lost their roofs and a part of the Kaufman Hotel porch collapsed.”

--- “Many street lights were turned off in the winter. So was the water.”

--- “We went to the band concerts during the summer camps of the National Guard and, in winter, watched ice-cutting at the ice dam (on the way to Colebrook).”

--- “The railroad’s last passenger train: a late thirties special bringing a community group from Harrisburg to Mount Gretna Park. I recall the engineer complaining about the rough track.”

--- “The loud ‘17-year locusts’ in the late thirties. I think they’re now stars in the Cicada Festival.”

Don, a retired engineer who spent nearly 40 years in New Mexico, has lived in Colorado, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. He and his wife, now in Portsmouth, N.H., are this year celebrating their 39th birthdays, he says, adding in a low voice, “times two.”

IN BRIEF (45 words or less)
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[] Governor Dick trail maps aren’t yet printed and ready for mass distribution, but a few copies are available at West Cornwall Township’s office. Call Carol McLaughlin at 272-9841.

[] PennDOT’s Lebanon County chief Rich Garchinsky promises he’ll look into the possibility of installing embedded reflectors along Route 117 --- perhaps one of the darkest stretches of road traveled by late-night concert audiences and playgoers anywhere.

[] Mount Gretnans are invited to ponder philosophical issues that have “intrigued mankind for centuries” June 5 at 108 Harvard Ave. in the first of this year’s “Socrates Cafe” sessions. The facilitator-led gatherings (about 90 minutes) begin at 1:00 p.m. To join in, email gsfesq@verizon.net.

[] Inspectors using digital binoculars scanned the Tabernacle last week and gave the century-old structure “a clean bill of health.” Campmeeting supervisor Merv Lentz says the Tabernacle is ready for another season of religious services, concerts and community events.

[] Gretna Theater issued another call for volunteer ushers and concession stand attendants. Volunteers can add their names to the sign-up list by phone (964-3322).

[] “Mark Twain’s America,” written and acted by artistic director Will Stutts, opens Gretna Theater’s season June 4-5. A catered $100 a plate fundraising dinner at the Community Building, which decorators intend to transform into a Mississippi Riverboat, precedes the show’s Saturday performance.

[] Mount Gretna fire company’s colorful new afghan, depicting scenes from past and present, may be the volunteer firemen’s most popular fundraiser ever. Joe Shay says he’s just placed a re-order for the 51” x 66” coverlets, priced at $50 and seen at his shop and http://dalesdelights.com.

[] Mount Gretna’s 7:00 p.m. “Wednesdays At The Library” series begins June 23 with Tom Meredith’s “History of the Campmeeting.” Jeff Hurst presents “Chocolate and the Maya” June 30 and “The Poetry of Dylan Thomas” July 14. George Resh surveys “The DaVinci Code” July 7.

[] Gretna Music invites present and prospective volunteers to a meeting at David and Susan Wood’s home May 24, 6:00-7:30 p.m. Everyone wishing to usher, organize receptions, host artists, provide administrative support or simply discover what volunteering’s all about is invited. Call Michael Murray, 361-1513.

[] Borough crews will haul away refrigerators, dishwashers and other large items (“no paints, oils, propane tanks or other hazardous materials, please”) June 14, Mount Gretna’s annual “large item collection” day.

[] Penn Realty will publish a Mount Gretna Area Business Directory, with free three-line listings available to any Mount Gretna resident business owner, whether their business is home-based or not. Deadline: June 1. Details: Judy Weimer, 964-3800. Or email listings to penn@nbn.net.

[] Composer, performer and Philadelphia Orchestra pre-concert speaker Allen Krantz previews Gretna Music’s summer concert series June 20 at 5:30 p.m. in Chautauqua’s Community Building. The season kick-off also offers performances from the Pennsylvania Academy of Music. Reserve tickets ($5.00) at 361-1508

[] Commemorative coffee mugs may be scarce this year. Fire company volunteers cut back on this year’s order, meaning that collectors must act fast. The mugs feature Eleanor Sarabia’s design of the Information Center (original post office) and will be sold at local stores and shops.

[] Bill Gentile plans to concentrate on wholesale distribution of imported bikes and will “wait and see” whether to open a retail shop this summer. Internationally known in biking circles, Bill distributes imported bicycles and bike lighting systems to retailers throughout North America.

[] Governor Dick’s nature center plans a grand opening this summer and invites donors to plant commemorative trees and purchase memorial benches around the building. Organizers say their new website, http://www.parkatgovdick.org will display a virtual tour and photos taken from atop the tower.

[] The nature center will soon offer a new part-time position. Duties (not yet spelled out) will likely include working with volunteers and giving tours and talks. Send applications to Governor Dick Board, P.O. Box 161, Mount Gretna, Pa. 17064.

[] Skid tests proved everything’s normal at Route 72’s northbound offramp onto Route 117. Officials concluded the rash of crashes there stemmed from drivers attempting the turnoff too fast. Improved lighting and rumble strips approaching the exit now have all but eliminated accidents at the site.

[] Vickie Kracke’s “Your Good Neighbor” service is flourishing. She offers in-home support services for seniors needing cooking, cleaning, transportation or other nonmedical assistance. A Campmeeting resident for the past 18 years, Vickie (964-3589) says her service allows seniors to remain in their homes.

[] Jazz series subscribers can save up to 30 percent at Gretna Music performances this season. Brochures, subscriptions and single tickets for both chamber music and jazz concerts, and other Gretna Music events are also now available (361-1508).

[] Gregory Bracale and Dan O’Donnell at Blue Heron Greenhouse (228-1045, blueherongreenhouse@msn.com) are helping Mount Gretna plant window boxes and hanging baskets again this year. Contributing their time and skills, they annually earn the deep appreciation of all Mount Gretnans --- especially garden club volunteers.

[] Organizers say they are looking at five or more possible locations for a Mount Gretna historical museum. Following preliminary planning sessions this month and next, they expect to hold public information meetings in July, bringing everyone up to date on their progress.

[] Leaf pickups are now complete in Mount Gretna Heights. Township officials urge residents to avoid raking leaves or brush to the street. A parked car’s hot exhaust system once set uncollected leaves (and the unattended car) afire in the Heights.

[] Another leaf pickup begins in the borough June 1. The final pickups for brush will start June 7 (rather than July 1, as announced in the borough’s April 14 bulletin to residents.)

[] Students from the Colorado Quartet’s master classes will present a free concert Sunday, June 20 at 2:00 p.m. in the Playhouse. The classes and afternoon performance are a joint project linking Gretna Music and the Pennsylvania Academy of Music.

[] Big Band lovers have two opportunities to enjoy their favorite melodies in Mount Gretna this summer. Lebanon’s Big Swing Band performs at the Tabernacle July 17. An “After Hours Big Band” experience comes up at the lake Aug.28; (details: 964-1829).

[] Gretna Music recreates Bach’s “Coffee Cantata,” a humorous musical drama written for Leipzig Coffee House performances, at East Indies Coffee & Tea Company’s roasting plant June 26 --- amid aromas and flavors of coffees from around the world, fine wine, cheese, and pastries. Details: http://mtgretna.com/music/Special1.asp

[] Mount Gretna’s library seeks magazines (“no more than two years old, no matter how good the articles, please”). Contributors may deposit magazines in the library’s book drop. Organizers plan a second book sale this summer, to benefit Lebanon’s Humane Society, Aug. 7.

[] The library’s children’s story hour begins at 10:00 a.m. June 26 and continues through July. Library volunteers will also present a special children’s program, “Dreamcatchers,” with Chris Resh, July 17.

[] United Methodist Church’s Bible school program, “In The Days of Noah,” runs July 5-9 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Open to youngsters age four to 12, the program concludes with a performance by the children in the Tabernacle at week’s end.


NUMBERS
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1st Place finish by cyclist Bill Care at Colt Neck, New Jersey’s recent 20-mile race. The victory, his first, “meant a lot,” says Bill, who finished more than a minute ahead of his closest competitor --- one of 20 all over the age of 50. Bill’s winnings: $20. Round-trip expenses for tolls and gas: about $50. “The bike was cheap, too,” he adds.

1 Car that’s crashed through Route 72’s northbound offramp to Route 117 since PennDOT installed overhead lights at the exit. Previously, dozens of cars and trucks careened across the traffic island so regularly that people began placing bets on when the next crash would occur. New lighting seems to have done the trick. “Sometimes,” marvels PennDOT’s Rich Garchinsky, “engineering achievements do work.”

3d Place award honoring artist Shelby Applegate’s “Fractured Sunlight” at the Arnold Gallery’s recent exhibition.

5 Patrons --- three with walkers, two in wheelchairs --- on Mothers Day who were first to use the lift at Le Sorelle Porch & Pantry Café. New summer hours will be, starting May 31: Tuesday-Sunday 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., with reservation-recommended dinners Friday and Saturday 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., and preconcert reservation-only dinners Sunday 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. See http://porchandpantry.com/. Tel. 964-3771.

18 Estimated percentage of Mount Gretnans who last year forgot there was no trash pickup on Memorial Day (Monday) and put their trash cans out 32 hours before pickup trucks arrived on Tuesday. Trash pickups this year will be Tuesday, June 1.

52 Singers in a youth choral group just added to this year’s Mount Gretna Bible Conference. Appearing at Christian music concerts from Florida to New York, the North Carolina-based “Young Disciples” includes a brother and sister who’ve spent Mount Gretna summers with Bob and Linda Wilson. Their Tabernacle appearance begins June 28 at 7:30 p.m.

100s Of underground pipes removed from the old Army encampment grounds and stored for what planners hoped might come in handy someday in Mount Gretna’s water and fire hydrant lines. Alas, the Army’s cast-iron pipes were an incompatible three inches in diameter. Municipal hydrant pipes are four inches. Eventually, the unearthed pipes --- stacked for years at the water treatment plant --- had to be sold for scrap in the 1980s.

120 Exhibitors expected at the fire company’s June 19 classic car show. Seven years ago, the first show attracted 65 exhibitors. Organizers say entry fees, food and raffles annually raise about $2,000. The Campmeeting’s Heritage Festival kicks off immediately afterwards at 7:00 p.m. in the Tabernacle with the Pastimes, an a cappella doo wop group.

150 Tons of road salt used this year. An “average winter,” says Bill Care. “When snows are only an inch or two deep, we do more salting and less plowing.” In the winter of 2003, the borough exhausted its entire 200-ton allocation.


FINALLY
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One of the best things about an Internet-based newsletter isn’t just that it’s free --- for subscribers and publisher alike.

It also keeps people (us especially) in touch, wherever in the world we happen to be. Thanks to computers and the Internet, writing a newsletter about Mount Gretna these days is almost as easy from Bora Bora as it is from Brown Avenue. (Or Stevens Avenue, as our seemingly accidental street is officially called.)

Still another joy is the medley of questions coming in from readers. A fellow in Australia asked this month if northern copperheads could be found at Governor Dick. (Answer: yes. Bill Care has seen a few. Linda Bell once spotted a Timber Rattler along the railroad bed and says a black snake used to live under Pump House #1. “His duties --- keeping the rodent population under control.” In the past 30 years, naturalist Dale Grundon has seen only about three snakes, none poisonous.) Another reader wanted to know what the current water temperature was at the lake. (Presumably, he’s weighing whether to try a triathlon swim.) Still others ask about everything from local landscapers to where they can buy one of those Euro-style MTG stickers. (Regarding the stickers, Bob Andrews has sold out temporarily but he expects a fresh supply shortly.)

All such inquiries stimulate our increasingly sluggish gray cells and stir our imaginings for future stories. We welcome them.

Someone asked recently if we ought to find a way to mail copies. The truth is, this newsletter now enjoys a broad circulation. Though we have no way of proving it, we suspect the number of Internet-savvy Mount Gretnans is much higher than the national (65 percent) average. Also, many readers --- whether living here or elsewhere --- receive copies printed by friends and neighbors. Several non-computerized Mount Gretnans tell us they get the newsletter by regular mail, sent by relatives, friends and even ex-spouses living in places like New Jersey and Arizona.

To all who help others share the news (and the fun), our deep appreciation.

Kindest regards,

Roger Groce, 213 Stevens Avenue

P.S. A reminder that thanks to Keith and Robin Volker’s Mount Gretna Inn, you’ll find back issues of this newsletter posted on the web at http://mtgretna.com/news. You can also discover the colorful world of DalesDelights --- showing Mount Gretna’s latest spring glimpses --- at http://dalesdelights.com.

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A Special Note to Our Website Readers: Before preparing each newsletter, we usually dispatch a special alert to our e-mail address list inviting everyone to send ideas for topics of interest and upcoming events. We attempt to make that alert as informative as the newsletter itself. Here is the “Call for Articles” that preceded this issue:

Sent: Thursday, May 06, 2004 7:50 AM
Subject: Send News! Another Mt. Gretna E-Mail Newsletter Is Coming Soon.

Nothing we’ve seen in recent years has stirred the hearts and minds of Mount Gretnans like the kaleidoscopic cavalcade of events now on the horizon. We’ll have a report in our next issue, coming up soon. And we invite you to send your news --- adding to the lively procession of plans, programs and people heading this summer’s parade.

Nothing has captured the zest and excitement surrounding May 29, starting with a porch sale beckoning visitors from near and far --- and traversing Mount Gretna's Campmeeting and Chautauqua communities. Everyone’s taking part --- including lakeside and Heights neighbors setting up stands along Chautauqua Drive to sell their treasures (and donating a portion of their proceeds to the tax-exempt Chautauqua Foundation and arts organizations.) Like to take part? Want your porch listed in the GuideMap that’ll lead bargain hunters on their quest? Listings are free. Call 964-1830 for details. You'll have to hurry. The deadline’s May 22.)

Next come those energetic volunteers assembling THIS Saturday, May 8, and lending their magic to a sparkling Mount Gretna spruce-up. It’s the first of this season’s “Second Saturdays.” Led by Sue Loehr (273-6674 or 964-2225), this merry band of gardeners will add spring-like touches to spots throughout the borough starting at 11:00 a.m. Commitment: 30 minutes. Place: Traffic island near the Playhouse. Benefits: Satisfaction galore as you spread soil, disperse debris, and gain good feelings of accomplishment.

Then there’s Mount Gretna’s first mini-triathlon, also scheduled May 29. It’ll benefit research into degenerative nerve disease that can cripple young adults like Chris Kaag, the 27-year-old sponsor who now relies upon canes, wheelchairs, a winning smile and determined optimism to guide his journeys. He hopes the event will attract some 300 athletes.

So much is on the docket this month that we can hardly wait to describe it in Mount Gretna's next E-Mail Newsletter. Some highlights:

[] Gretna Theater’s sign-up for volunteers continues this Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until noon outside the post office. Maryanne Shrawder heads the signups for ushers and concession stand volunteers. Open spots are going fast, so you’ll have to hurry to get your name on the list. (One benefit, besides helping a good cause: On the days and nights they’re working at the Playhouse, volunteers see the performance free!)

[] Plans for a Mount Gretna historical society and museum will be aired in two public meetings this month. The communitywide initiative --- “to exhibit artifacts and a library to study, research and promote an interest in Mount Gretna and its cultural heritage” --- is the topic of two informational meetings, both starting at 7:30 p.m.: May 12 at Mount Gretna’s United Methodist Church and May 19 in the Heights community building.

[] Then there’s the yard sale Cornwall’s police department will sponsor May 15 to benefit the area’s neediest families at Christmas. Shirley Trimmer, who vows Mount Gretnans are among the world’s most generous people, gladly stops by to pick up sale item donations. Her number: 274-2071.

[] Folks enjoying the forests, trails and streams around Mount Gretna will be out in force this month. The Tri-County Conewago Creek Association holds a “watershed snapshot” --- sampling the stream for water chemistry, acquatic insects and fish --- this Saturday at 9:00 a.m. Mount Gretna’s Matt Royer, who heads the group, offers details at 964-1320.

[] Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Scott Bills leads a hike identifying and underscoring the role of trees, birds and flora in area forests May 18. Register for the guided tour (which starts at 6:30 p.m. at gamelands 145, near Camp Kirchenwald just outside Colebrook). Call 272-3908, Ext. 4.

[] Volunteers assemble May 22 for another trail cleanup day along the Lebanon Valley Rail-Trail, which traverses Mount Gretna. Volunteers helping trim branches, pick up debris and get the trail ready for summer meet at 9:00 a.m. at the Colebrook trail head.

[] Finally, this reminder to mark yet another event on your calendar for May 29. It’s the Summer Premiere --- one of THE events in Mount Gretna’s busy season. Everyone’s invited to greet friends old and new, bid on art items, and sample tasty treats starting at 4:00 p.m. at Chautauqua’s Community Building. To help volunteers prepare for this festive gala, contact Janice Balmer 964-3142 (or jbalmer@scoutsolutions.com). She welcomes food donations and says desserts are a high priority.
The premiere’s $15 admission helps underwrite the Arts Council’s Summer Events Calendar --- surely the single best source of what’s scheduled, what’s happening, and what will help make Mount Gretna’s summer memorable.

After all that, what more could be in our next issue? Plenty.

We’ll have details on Gretna Music’s Coffee Cantata June 26 --- likely to be one of the season’s highlights. We’ll delve into the impending arrival of those once-every-17-years giant Cicadas --- poised to make their dreaded reappearance the minute ground temperatures rise to 64 degrees. We’ll report on Mount Gretna’s continuing legacy from the Army's WWI-era encampment, plans for this year’s Independence Day fireworks, and other stories that we absolutely guarantee you won’t find anywhere else.

So send along summaries to share, points to ponder, and insights to inspire. The e-mail address: rtgroce@hotmail.com. We’ll happily add to the mix your musings --- dispatching them in the twinkling of an eye to the growing band of friendly, imaginative and energized Mount Gretnans. . . wherever in the world they happen to be.

Kindest regards,

Roger Groce, 213 Stevens Avenue

P.S. A reminder that you’ll find previous issues of Mount Gretna’s E-Mail Newsletter on the web at http://mtgretna.com/news. Thanks to all who forward copies to friends and relatives around the globe --- and print copies for neighbors lacking links to the Internet.