Small Business Saturday

So, you’re conscious, are you? I hope that you had a wonderful day yesterday with family, friends, loved ones, or whatever combination worked for you. At the risk of sounding overly sentimental, I believe it is truly important to take time to reflect on what we are thankful for (though not just on Thanksgiving). Times are tough and uncertain (and have been for a while), but focusing on the things that make you feel better about the world helps. (Look for our upcoming line of “Trailheads Inspirations” at a mall kiosk near you.) Anyway.

One of the things I’m going to suggest is taking part in Small Business Saturday by checking out the museum store at your friendly neighborhood Trails of History site (bearing in mind that operating hours vary—check ahead online or by phone). You can shop local, often you can buy locally produced wares, and you’ll be supporting the ongoing public and educational programs of the site of your choice. Think of it as history with a side order of retail therapy. Or retail therapy with a side order of history. Whatever motivates you, we’re thankful for your efforts.

Speaking of things that make me feel better about the world, I mentioned last week that the Arts on Fire Festival (held at the Scranton Iron Furnaces) had won the Hometown Star Award from the Scranton Awards for Growth & Excellence (SAGE). Site administrator Chester Kulesa sent me a photo from the awards gala—thanks Chester, and congratulations again to you and the entire team that plans and pulls off this cool program.

Pictured at the SAGE Awards (left to right): Natalie O'Hara, President of MetroAction, Inc.; Margaret Reese, Anthracite Heritage Museum Associates; Chester Kulesa, Site Administrator, PA Anthracite Heritage Museum and Scranton Iron Furnaces, PHMC; Elizabeth Nagy, representing award sponsor Pennstar Bank; and Paula Mackarey, Board Chair of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce.

I’ll be posting the December program preview next Friday, but I don’t want you to miss Holly Nights (Dec. 1 and 2), a long-standing tradition at Pennsbury Manor. Visit Pennsbury’s Facebook page to find out how to win free tickets to the event.

PHMC/Pennsbury Manor

See you next week. Enjoy those leftovers.

Act Now (and other news)

If you are in the Harrisburg area, there’s still time to catch the Holiday Marketplace, which wraps up at 3 pm today. Museum stores from half a dozen sites on the Trails of History are among the vendors for the sixth annual event, organized by the Pennsylvania Heritage Society and sponsored by PSECU. Come on down to the Commonwealth Keystone Building, do some shopping, and support our programs!

Today is also the last day to vote for your favorite entry in Drake Well Museum’s oil haiku contest on Facebook (you’ll have to scroll down a bit to find it).

Tomorrow is the 148th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and there is an entire weekend of commemorative events planned. Check out Pennsylvania Civil War 150’s Facebook page for details.

PHMC/Scranton Iron Furnaces

Let’s have a big round of applause for the Arts on Fire Festival, a joint effort of many community partners in Scranton, including the Scranton Iron Furnaces (where it takes place). Arts on Fire was just named as recipient of the 2011 Hometown Star Award at the gala of the Scranton Awards for Growth & Excellence (SAGE), sponsored by the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce and MetroAction. The award honors “an individual or organization that has made a significant economic impact on [the Scranton] area by conducting an event, with a rich social, historical and charitable contribution.” Woohoo!!

PHMC/PA Military Museum

In last week’s post, I mentioned that Pennsylvania’s First Lady, Susan Corbett, had written an article highlighting military history sites in the Commonwealth and encouraging Pennsylvanians to visit them. To set the example, Mrs. Corbett paid a Veterans Day visit to the Pennsylvania Military Museum, where she toured the exhibits and spoke with veterans about their service. (There are a number of photos on the First Lady’s Facebook page.) We look forward to welcoming Mrs. Corbett to all of the sites on the Trails of History.

Thank You, Veterans

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
(1st stanza of the poem “In Flanders Fields,” by John McCrae, 1915)

The 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 marked the “end” of the “war to end all wars.” Since then, Nov. 11 (first as Armistice Day and now as Veterans Day) has been our national day of remembrance and celebration of the men and women who have served in the United States armed forces. (There was a brief stretch from 1971 to 1977 when Veterans Day was a Monday holiday, but in 1978 we went back to Nov. 11 as the official observance.)

Most sites on the Trails of History are closed today, but Fort Pitt, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Military Museum are open. As is the case throughout the year at all Trails of History sites, active duty military and their dependents will receive complimentary regular admission (roughly 2,000 folks have taken us up on that offer so far this year).

PHMC/Pennsylvania Military Museum

Pennsylvania’s First Lady, Susan Corbett, wrote a very nice article for last Sunday’s Harrisburg Patriot-News encouraging Pennsylvanians to visit the Commonwealth’s military heritage museums, including the PHMC’s Military Trail of History sites. If you visit the Pennsylvania Military Museum today (or in the next month), you’ll be able to catch two temporary exhibits (“Religion and Conflict” and “Santa’s Draft Card”) in addition to the museum’s current long-term exhibit.

This past weekend, the Railroad Museum of PA held its annual Trains & Troops event, which features military reenactors and equipment amid the collection of locomotives and railcars from various eras. The event highlights the role of railroads in US military history and honors the service of our veterans (an exhibit and video presentation in the lobby showcases the military service of museum staff and volunteers). The Lancaster Intelligencer Journal/New Era covered the event here.

However you choose to spend Veterans Day, please join the PHMC in saying “Thank you” to those who have served and who are currently serving.

Media Blitz

We’re everywhere. Not exactly eclipsing coverage of the Occupy Movement, the Greek debt crisis, or the demise of Kim Kardashian’s marriage, but sites on the Trails of History seem to be getting some nice publicity lately. Local media (print, radio, and television) have been featuring programs and exhibits or talking about local history with staff and volunteers of a variety of sites. Maybe this is nothing new, but it feels like a trend. And it’s the result of a lot of people working together to plan and promote great experiences for visitors and to showcase behind-the-scenes activities.

“The Buzz in Bucks” host Rachel Canelli visited Pennsbury Manor during their Harvest Day educational program in October and produced this short video piece on apple cider. Looks like everyone had a great time. (Thanks, Rachel, for including a plug for Pennsbury’s volunteer program.)

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania director Charlie Fox and historian/author Jim Porterfield taped an episode of Sandy Fenton’s “Let’s Talk Travel” radio show on WHP 580 (Harrisburg area) that is set to air tomorrow afternoon. They talked about train travel with Sandy, who frequently features luxury travel experiences on her show and blog. You’ll find a podcast of the episode here.

Marcia Fortley, host of Sites and Sounds of Historic Berks County, devoted her Oct. 24 show to the Daniel Boone Homestead. Interpretation Coordinator Amanda Machik and board members Bob Servin and Brad Kissam spoke about upcoming programs, the historical background of the Boone family, and the partnership between the Friends of Daniel Boone Homestead and the PHMC that keeps the site open to the public. You can watch the half-hour show here. (You can also find some vivid photos of the recent pre-Halloween snow storm on the Homestead’s Facebook page.)

Finally, Erie TV News provided viewers with a taste of the newly revived Ghosts Afloat event at the Erie Maritime Museum and US Brig Niagara. Organized by the Flagship Niagara League, in cooperation with major sponsor Mercyhurst College, the program combines local lore and the history of the Battle of Lake Erie in dramatic ways. Just a note: the video includes lots of screaming, so you may want to turn down the volume on your computer and usher young children out of the room. Don’t say I didn’t warn you; here it is. [11/7/11--when I posted this, the link took you to an online article with video of the event, now it's just an article. Sorry.]