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No. 94May 7, 2009
The days leading up to
Memorial Day weekend give scarcely a hint of all that lies ahead for Mt.Gretna's
grand summer season. The streets are still quiet. The town's tempo muted. The
snowbirds absent, many still squeezing out a few
more sunny days in spots like Sarasota,
So even as May begins in Mt.Gretna,
summer's unmistakable stirrings may seem elusive. But that is deceptive. A
closer look reveals immutable signs of rebirth, renewal and resurgence.
Brightest by far was a signal last weekend: the return of Mary Hernley -- for
a 44th consecutive year -- to her flower stand along Route 117. She showed up
with a dazzling array of tulips, fresh from her gardens at the Manheim farm
that has been in her family since the days of William Penn. Vibrant yellows,
purples, reds and multicolored tulips, all befitting Mary's role in what she
calls "the cheer-up business." She hopes to be here most weekends,
except for a brief trip to Maine
later this month for a granddaughter's wedding.
Elsewhere, a persistent, yet barely
perceptible buzz permeates cottages and century-old buildings where people
are putting final touches on productions that will take place this summer at
the Playhouse: First, starting on June 4, comes
Gretna Theater with performances that will continue until July 29. In
mid-summer, the freshly energized Cicada Festival emerges for its week-long run. And then,
from July 31 through Sept. 6, Gretna Music's 34th imaginative series, echoing
folk music's influence on both classical music and jazz. In all, a
spectacular lineup that will offer -- for Gretna Music and Gretna Theater audiences -- the convenience of advance
ticket purchases online.
Adding to summer's allure is a lively
Chautauqua series that includes talks by astronauts and theologians, Tuesday
afternoon chess fests by Scotland's national chess team captain, talks by a renown
authority on the writings of St. Francis, and
another University for a Day program. There's also an authors' lecture series
that will feature Elizabeth Wein (who spent summers growing up in the
Heights and now writes children's adventure novels from her home in
Scotland), an Auschwitz survivor whose experiences underscore
what happens "when good people do nothing," and speakers on the
"Last Lecture" theme made notable by the late Dr.
Randy Pausch, who counseled his students,
"Brick walls are there for a reason: to show how badly we want
Summer's brightest beacon? It's still a
few days off, May 23 to be exact. That's when a morning triathlon, a
community-wide porch sale and a gala Summer Premier will officially launch
the opening of another season at Mt.Gretna.
The race: Mt. Gretna's 6th annual triathlon -- a competition challenging 600 athletes from
around the nation who will swim, run and cycle in quest of higher personal
achievements and funds for a disease that crippled the race organizer, a
courageous former Marine named Chris Kaag. To date, the event has raised
about $100,000 for medical research into causes and cures for the
degenerative nerve disease.
The sales: 300 to 400 other visitors combing the town for bargains at
the annual community-wide porch sales in the Chautauqua and Campmeeting, 8
a.m. to 2 p.m. (Underway at the same time will be a breakfast at the fire
hall, a pay-what-you-will book sale at the library, and a bake sale at the church.)
To list their porch sales on visitor maps, residents should contact Bruce
Gettle (in the Campmeeting, 964-2319) or Barney Myer (in the Chautauqua,
The gala: A gathering that helps underwrite Mt.Gretna's
75-page summer calendar, the single most widely-read book in town. This
year's Premiere planners, Jessica Kosoff and her mother, Deborah Clemens,
devoted much of the winter to devising fresh attractions for the event. In
addition to music by Ryan Brunkhurst -- perhaps the youngest organist/choir
director in the country (he delayed choir practice one Halloween to squeeze
in a trick-or-treat outing) -- will be both live and silent auctions. They
will include artworks donated by last year's art show exhibitors, a Prairie
lamp by stained glass artisan Dale Grundon, a studio session with
Pea Pod Photography's Heather Leed
(the celebrated Ephrata photographer of newborns and children), and a jewelry
raffle -- a freshwater pearl necklace, bracelet and earrings set-donated by Leitzel's Jewelry of Myerstown.
Yes, the sound of spring echoes
at this time of year. At Churchill Downs, it's the invitation to sip a mint
julep. At Indianapolis,
it's the call to "start your engines." And in Mt.Gretna,
it's the cheery greeting from atop the steps to the Hall of Philosophy,
"Welcome to the Summer Premiere." (Dale
At Gretna Theater, Things are Looking Up
While theaters elsewhere across the country struggle to stay open, Gretna Theatre's subscriptions, group sales and
individual contributions are growing, says producing director Larry Frenock.
He told the Lancaster New Era last month that although he keeps "a large jar of Tums
on my desk," the outlook this season is good -- with six shows scheduled
this season. Last fall's benefit gala raised more than $100,000-a
record-breaker, he says.
One reason for the gains may have been Larry's decision to move here three
years ago. Other producers "never made the commitment," he says.
"When I decided to work in Mt.Gretna, I moved here. I
have a house. I have to make a go of it. It's a simple equation. If I keep
the theater succeeding, I keep my job."
The season begins June 4-7 with "1959 Dance Party," a tribute to
Buddy Holly, Ritche Valens and the Big Bopper with
stars that include John Mueller, who played Holly on Broadway, and the Big
Bopper's own son.
"Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" follows June 11-21, with a cast
of 36. Next comes "Almost Heaven -- The Songs of John Denver" June
25-28, "George M!" the story and songs of George M. Cohan July 2-5,
"Cheaper by the Dozen," a "warm and loving family comedy"
July 9-12; and the season-ender, "Hello, Dolly!" (July 16-26), the
story of a matchmaker who sets her sights on a grumpy millionaire.
In Other News:
Public hearings on the proposed water park at Cornwall may be held
next month, possibly as early as early as June 1 or 8, says Borough manager
Steve Danz. The 570-acre development (about
four miles from Mt. Gretna) -- to be built around what was once the largest
iron-ore mine east of the Mississippi -- calls for 645 homes, a 250-room
hotel and a main street of shops and stores. The H&K Group of MontgomeryCounty could begin work on the $300
million project in 2011 or 2012, the Lancaster New Era reported.
Fastest 60-year-old on two wheels? No, but Mt. Gretna borough
chief Bill Care proves that getting older doesn't mean that you can't keep
getting better. Already this season he's grabbed a first-place prize at a
bicycle race in Fawn Grove, Pa., placed second in other Maryland and
Pennsylvania races, and finished third behind national champion Scott Haverstick in last month's Tour of Battenkill
in upstate New York. Haverstick and another
national champ, Barry Free of Spring Hill Acres, are Bill's teammates.
They've been racing together for the past nine years.
Gretna Emporium will preview "many new surprises for a great
summer" in a just-for-Mt. Gretnans advance showing on Friday, May 22
from to , just before the regular
season opens on Saturday. Among new items that owner Stacey Pennington will
introduce this year is a line of Life is Good clothing and accessories, new
distinctively Mt.Gretna items,
"yard art" and a tasty assortment of dips, teas and wine slushies.
Rug hooking, an art that has fascinated Americans for at least a
century, will be taught here this summer. Campmeeting resident Cindy Irwin
will offer classes on the front porch of the 610 Fourth St. cottage that she has
owned for the past 18 years. A juried member of the PA Guild of
Craftsmen and a McGown certified traditional rug
hooking teacher, Cindy says it's the most rewarding, yet challenging,
creative endeavor that she has ever tried. She loves "determining a
pattern, finding just the right colors to bring it alive, dyeing the wool and
then hooking and finishing a rug that is utterly unique." Details:
Call (717) 284-6318 or drop a note to: email@example.com.
Sample a bit of Mt.Gretna history when
you stop by the Visitors' Center this summer. Volunteers will be showing
small displays from the Historical Society museum, located just up the hill
on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The Visitors Center will also offer Mt. Gretna historical publications and
Now you can buy Playhouse tickets online for summer theater
productions as well as jazz and classical music concerts. Click here to purchase Gretna Theater tickets
(telephone 964-3627). For tickets to Gretna Music concerts, call (361-1508)
or click here.
Ah!, a collection of photographic images by Alan Harrington, has just
made its appearance on the Web. The son of Chautauqua residents Bill and
Leane Harrington, Alan spent summers growing up in Mt.Gretna.
His photographic interpretations of everything from nature to
children and everyday objects reveal, as the Website suggests, "a
wondrous mystery concealed in the guise of the ordinary." His more than
170 images also reflect the photographer's widespread interests and extensive
worldwide travels. After living on the West Coast for several years, Alan and
his wife and son will move eastward next month, stopping briefly in Mt.Gretna
before continuing to their new home in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts.
Good Things Happen When You Follow Your Heart
The judges selecting this year's entries for the Mt.Gretna
art show included a Hummelstown artist who was working as a mail carrier when
she first discovered, nearly a decade ago, a college exhibit of glass art. A
few years later, after saving up sufficient vacation time at the post office
to devote one day a week to a full semester of classes, she began the study
of glass-blowing. In 2005, having created a collection of stained and fused
glass artwork, she summoned the courage to submit a
first competitive entry to the Mt.Gretna
"I had been coming to the Mt.Gretna show long before
I ever considered myself an artist," says Linda Billet. The acceptance
letter she received a few weeks later both stunned her and launched a new
career. "I was fed up at the post office. I had been there forever. I
quit that job in March 2007. Now, I can't wait to get up in the
morning," she told a newspaper reporter.
Her selection as a Mt. Gretna art show judge this year not only completes the
cycle -- from show visitor, to exhibiting artist, to judge -- it affirms
another enduring truth, she says: "When we follow our hearts, something
Events at Gov. Dick Park this month include a nature walk May 9 with
Ron Laughlin, ; an
orienteering class in map and compass reading May 16 with Mark and Mary
Frank, ; and
naturalist Audrey Manspeaker leads a Warbler Walk May 19, Questions: 964-3808; click here for a list of park programs.
Gretna Computer Consulting has added a new service to transfer family
videos and slides to DVD.
"It's for people who'd like to show home movies and slides on their TV,
without having to set up movie or slide projectors. Or worrying whether their
favorite video tapes will survive another playback in their VCR or camcorder," says Joe Shay. All work
is done locally: 964-1106.
Police bike rodeo June 2 (Cornwall Elementary, ) For children up to age 12. Bring
a bike and helmet for the safety and skill course. Prizes galore.
In Mt.Gretna, there's a resident expert for
just about everything. So when a press release arrived announcing a
composting workshop this month, we sought out the town's top authorities. One
name that came immediately to mind: artist Shelby Applegate,
whose Valley Road
lawn bursts with color every summer. "I've been composting for
years," she says. "It makes lovely soil."
gardening enthusiast Pat Pinsler has been
composting for 35 years, using a dehydrated bacteria starter kit that speeds
Another authority, Neely Spicer, who has lived on Sixth Street in the Campmeeting for 11
years, is a master gardener. She invites questions on the topic (964-2378 or
drop her ane-mail note). She's just getting started with composting,
but with over a decade's experience of gardening in the shade of Mt.Gretna,
she should have solutions for even the thorniest problems.
If you're among the first 100 persons to sign
up for one of the four $15 workshops on May 16, you'll get an 80-gallon
composting bin free. Register by May 8 for one of four sessions (, , and )
at Lebanon Valley Agricultural Center, 2120 Cornwall Rd. Tel. 270-4391.
Scott Cooling and Joey Wise installed new canoe
racks at the lake a few
weeks ago, so they'll be ready for use this summer.
You'll need a $10 annual permit; any canoe without one will be removed (even
if it's chained to a tree).
A total of 60 permits are available (limit: one per household) for Mt.Gretna
Pick up your permit from Linda Bell
at the borough office (Tel. 964-3270), Mon.-Fri.
Oh, and if you left your canoe at the lake last fall and now can't find it,
ask Linda. She'll probably know where it is.
She may be a minister, but, when it comes to church breakfasts, Janet
Steger has the unerring touch of a master marketer. Mt. Gretna's United
Methodist Church's pastor says that even though grilled hot dogs aren't
normally on anybody's breakfast menu, the wafting aroma from Bray Brunkhurst's grill near the church's side door is a sure
lure for shoppers during the annual Memorial Day weekend porch sale. "No
matter how many we grill up, they're usually all gone by People like them for breakfast,"
she says. Visitors will also find bake sale items and used treasures on sale
at the church May 23, from
Pastor Steger also tells us that her final service here will be June 21. She
has accepted a call to St. Paul's
in Mountville. Her successor has not yet been named.
Soon to become full-time residents when they move from a summer
cottage in the Campmeeting to an extensively remodeled home in Timber Hills, Ceylon and Karen Leitzel have
been committed contributors to the Mt.Gretna community for
many years. In addition to Ceylon's
role in heading the Cicada Festival, the Leitzels
also sponsor the annual Big Band dance party at the lake.
Now in it's 6th year and providing funds for groups
like the Heritage and Bible festivals, the fire company, men's club, Lawn
Ambulance and Mt.Gretna's UnitedMethodistChurch,
"Music Under the Stars" will continue Aug. 22 with the Hershey Big
(Tickets: $18 in advance, $20 at the door; call 717-866-4274 or 964-1829;
Artist Shelby Applegate opened a month-long solo show this month at
the Lebanon Gallery (third floor above the Farmer's Market). She also helped
jury a three-month show ("Make Your Mark"-- a display of everything
from cave paintings and tattoos to post-impressionistic pointillism), now at
the Susquehanna Art Museum.
Finding clean, usable spring clean-out items in your garage, basement
and closets? Cornwall's
police department wants them. Administrative assistant Stephanie Burris says
five local families -- all living in Cornwall police coverage areas --
benefited last Christmas from the $2,300 raised in 2008's Adopt-a-Family yard
sales. The next sale comes up May 8-9 (rain dates: May 15-16). Schools,
churches and Cornwall
police officers themselves suggest each year's recipients. Call or e-mail Stephanie
(274-2071) to arrange for drop-offs.
OPPORTUNITIES IN MT. GRETNA: 2009
For more than a century,
the summer cavalcade of events that unfolds in Mt.Gretna
each year has been largely the work of volunteers. That tradition continues
this summer. Here's a partial list of opportunities for those who'd like to
share in recreating the magic:
corrections and additions to Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Art Show coordinators of volunteers: Saturday admission gates: Sam Bonacci 964-3111. Sunday admission gates: Joe Shay
964-2209; Office staff: Doug Leiby 717-272-8871.
Kids' Art Show: Faith
Mummau 964-2212. Exhibitor traffic control: Fred Seltzer
964-3763. Soldiers' Field and Philhaven area
parking: Bob Dowd 964-1106. Booth sitters: Julie Bucher, 717-872-6127.
Buzzard Busters: (Active Nov. - Mar.)
Max Hunsicker (click here to e-mail). Despite their success, Max's band of stalwarts
("The few, the proud, the Buzzard Busters") needs volunteers who
can encourage migrating turkey vultures each fall to choose other
Deborah Hurst, click here to email.
Campmeeting Playground Refurbishment Project:
Organizers need volunteers for a concert and carnival June 5-6 to raise money
for Campmeeting playground improvements. Rachel Schmalhofer,
No, there's no "garden club" any longer. So who makes the Playhouse
grounds burst with color each year? Peg Smith and Betty Miller,
with mulching and watering help from Peg's husband John. Tending
to plants around the post office are Bill Care and Linda Bell. Shirley Miller
and Louise Doney nurture flower boxes at the InformationCenter
and also help with those hanging baskets around town. Carol Morgan and Kay Hetrick maintain that children's favorite, the FairyGarden. In Mt.GretnaHeights, Charlie Harris
(click here to e-mail)
often organizes volunteer gardening projects. And in the Campmeeting, Debra
Barnhart and Jane Zellers care for the ButterflyGarden
between First Street
Avenue. Like to join them? Call Peg at 964-2101,
or click here
to drop her an e-mail note.
Carl Kane 361-1508 (email@example.com).
Sign-up forms also appear online. Gretna Music will also be at the post office on
several Saturday mornings this month to talk with prospective volunteers.
Music Under the Stars: (A fundraiser at the lake Aug. 22.)
Karen Leitzel, 964-1829 or 717-866-4274; kbl555@Verizon.net
Rhoda Long coordinates refreshments at these recitals; tel. 717-304-0248; or firstname.lastname@example.org;
Kim Beiler is this summer's playground coordinator. Telephone:
Police Community E-mail Alert Network: (Periodic advisories on how you
can help local police; announcements of vehicle ID programs, safety
instruction, National Nights Out, other events.). Add your name, address and
e-mail address: email@example.com
Mike Dissinger (717) 949-2367 schedules trail
clean-up days; John Wengert posts e-mail bulletins
for other tasks needing volunteers.
Winterites: (October - April)
Donna Kaplan, 964-2174, who notes that their next meeting (Oct. 6) is already
planned -- a luncheon catered by Chef-on-the-Go Becky Briody.
An honor on the ice for a man who ignited a spirit
In Portland, Me. a few weeks ago, they honored Tom Ebright. The many Mt.Gretnans
who knew him will readily understand why. His posthumous induction into the
Hall of Fame by the Portland Pirates ice hockey team recognized not merely
Tom's role as the team's exuberant owner, but also leadership qualities that
ignited zest, integrity and commitment in the team, in the town and
throughout the entire American Hockey League.
Those same qualities were also widely known and appreciated in Mt.Gretna,
where Tom Ebright revived the tradition of fireworks displays on the Fourth
of July, recreated authentic models of the trains that once ran on Mt.Gretna's
narrow gauge railroad, and led the privately funded campaign to rebuild the
Playhouse after it collapsed in 1994. He died three years later while
awaiting a heart transplant at HersheyMedicalCenter.
Joyce, his widow who now lives in TimberBridge, attended the
ceremony with her family, including three grandchildren. They each wore No.
50 jerseys, the number Tom himself had worn as the Pirates' owner. It is the
only number ever to be retired by the Pirates organization. Tom never had a
chance to see his grandchildren nor they him. But the ceremony on the ice in Portland March 27 gave
them "a sense of the type of man Tom was and the legacy that he left
behind," says Joyce. "They will know he was someone