Roamin' in the South Hills
Getaways are always fun
St. Patrick Parish’s travel group at the Sights and Sounds Millennium Theater’s performance of “Noah” in Lancaster.
Docent-led groups toured the historic James Buchanan home.
Former President James Buchanan served guests with this French porcelain dinnerware.
P ennsylvania is beautiful in October. Colorful golds and reds light up the hillsides creating a seasonal glow for travelers crossing our state.
Every year, Canonsburg resident Loretta Kulakowski, a member of the Christian Mothers and Women’s Guild at St. Patrick Parish, organizes a bus tour to eastern Pennsylvania. To the delight of all her followers, she schedules interesting activities and exciting theater performances. The annual getaway is open to members of the parish as well as those from around the community. Seats fill quickly as local women anticipate an enjoyable time-out from daily routines.
Recently, Loretta planned a customized road trip to Lancaster, a leading growth area in Pennsylvania.
We continue to learn about the area’s cultural life as well as its historical significance. We’ve toured the Amish countryside, visited Amish farms on horse-drawn buggies and enjoyed the area’s extensive shopper’s paradise with its wonderful musical performances and relaxing dinners. And Loretta always includes a surprise or two.
A few weeks ago, our travel bunch toured the downtown area led by a history center guide who called attention to many places of interest in the storied town. Known in the early 1700s as Hickory Town, the city was later renamed Lancaster by the early settler John Wright after his native home in the English county of Lancashire.
From our history books we remembered that Robert Fulton was known as the father of steamboat navigation. But we were surprised to learn that the Fulton Theater in Lancaster, founded in his name, is the longest operating theater in the U.S.
We rode by the site where Milton Hershey made his first chocolate candy and where F. W. Woolworth opened his first successful “five & dime.” We were also surprised to learn that the oldest tobacco shop in the U.S. opened in Lancaster in 1770. The city’s central market, built in 1889, is the oldest continuously operating farmers’ market in the U.S. A short drive away is the site where the original Goodyear dealer opened.
The first pretzels were made in Lancaster County and the first Easter peeps confection, shaped as marshmallow chicks, were produced in the 1920s.
History buffs were delighted to visit Wheatland, the stately home of James Buchanan, the only U.S. president from Pennsylvania. The Federal-style, brick house was constructed in 1828 and was inherited by Buchanan’s niece after his death. A volunteer docent in 1860s dress brought history to life as we explored the dining rooms, parlors, bedrooms and the library where the 15th president wrote his inaugural address and presidential memoirs.
Lancaster had the distinction of being the U.S. capital for a day back in 1777 and our state capital from 1799-1812. Many other firsts had their founding in Lancaster and have had great historic influence.
Our group laughed at the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” at the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre. However, the true focus of our excursion was to watch the performance of “Noah” at the Sight and Sound Millennium Theater. With its towering 40-foot-high sets, “Noah” is the theater’s largest production ever. It is an extraordinary family experience. The story of Noah and his call by God to build an ark had the audience exhilarated by llamas, horses, cows, pigs, parrots and other animals being lead through the aisles to the stage and into the massive ark. Featuring more than 100 live animals and animatrons, the performance was amazing and a one-of-a-kind experience.
This year’s visit to Lancaster was not only fun but an educational experience and has Loretta’s followers wondering what she will plan for 2014. Surely, no one will be disappointed.
Roamin' in the South Hills
Getaways are always fun
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