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The 8-year-old who put John Fetterman in tie-dye

Plus, tomato pie chips are crowned a favorite.

Welcome to PA Local, a free weekly newsletter about the great people, amazing places, and delicious food of Pennsylvania.
Your Postmaster: Tanisha Thomas

August 25, 2023
Inside this edition: Tie-dye craze, amusement park rankings, Chautauqua community, winning chips, dream alpacas, and bachelor status.
🏆 SMART SCORE: Did you stay on top of Pennsylvania news this week? Prove it with the latest Great PA News Quiz: COVID-19 hospitalizations, falling unemployment, and Fetterman’s stache.
A Pennsylvania-centric trivia question.

Comedian and actress Wanda Sykes — Curb Your Enthusiasm, Black-ishThe Marvelous Mrs. Maisel — lives part-time in Pennsylvania. True or false?

(Keep scrolling for the answer, but don't miss all the good stuff in between. Like what you read? Forward this email to a friend.)

Our five favorite Pennsylvania stories of the week.

» One ranking worth reading: Paul Ruben, 83, has traveled to hundreds of amusement parks around the world and ranked Pittsburgh’s Kennywood among the best, praising its "mild to wild" range to Reader's Digest.

» One place worth visiting: Lebanon County's Mount Gretna is one of 17 remaining communities inspired by the Victorian-era Chautauqua movement and "like a spa for the mind," per The Inquirer (paywall).

» One flavor worth trying: Tomato pie flavored chips: The staple dish for a Montgomery County eatery won Herr’s "Flavored by Philly" contest. Our staff reviewers said they smelled like ketchup and feet.

» One hairdo worth seeing: Congrats to Rory Ehrlich of Pottstown for not only having the best youth mullet in America — known affectionately as the Cheddar Wiz — but also getting to meet the alpacas of his dreams.

» One show worth watching: After failing to capture Charity Lawson’s heart on The Bachelorette, Montgomery County native Joey Graziadei is getting a second chance at love as the next star of The Bachelor.

The top stories published by Spotlight PA this week.
» Voting machine malfunction reports coming to Pa.

» Pa. budget delay snares $1.1B in state funding

» Obstacles abound as Pa. plans a broadband blitz

» Penn State football’s academics near Big Ten bottom

» Bills would let Pa. towns hire firms as managers

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Black child is seen pouring blue dye on a banded white t-shirt
Tuukka Saari, 8, of Everett, pouring dye on a shirt for his tie-dye business. (Courtesy of Tiffany Saari)

Tuukka Saari got a tie-dye kit for his sixth birthday. Acutally, he got several of them, all from family members unaware of the seed being planted. 

Tuukka had never dabbled in the artform with roots in ancient Asia before, but he was soon making technicolor shirts by the bundle. 

"We bought some shirts, and he made them all their own," mom Tiffany Saari
 said. "Then it progressed to friends wanting some and so on."

Two years later, 
Tuukka, now 8, is still going and working with his mother and grandfather, Tom, to soak, fold, color, and package at least 15-20 shirts a week for his Tie Dye by Tuukka business.

He counts U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D., Pa.) among his fans. 

“I think we can all agree he helped me step up my wardrobe,” Fetterman tweeted alongside a photo of a tie-dye shirt 
Tuukka made as a get-well gift for Fetterman, who checked himself into a hospital for treatment for clinical depression earlier this year. 

Tuukka did not envision turning the craft into a business venture until his designs caught the eyes of others who wanted their own color-splashed tops. Fetterman's tweet, for example, resulted in tons more orders coming in for the young entrepreneur. He even got the opportunity to teach a sold-out tie-dye class at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art in 

“Dyeing the shirt is my favorite process,” Tuukka said softly by phone.

He also enjoys riding his dirt bike, playing baseball and soccer, and immersing himself in video games.

Tie Dye by Tuukka sells a variety of products: shirts, hoodies, bandanas, animal shirts, tote bags, and more. He hopes to sell hats and socks soon.

His tie-dye timing was good as the throwback fashion has been making a comeback of late, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Business Insider reported in July of 2020 that purchases jumped 75% for women and 100% for men compared to the prior year.

Kits also became a hot commodity for craftspeople looking for things to do during the downtime lockdown provided.

Tiffany said once Tuukka started receiving money for his products, he wanted to use some of it to support charities. Another portion of the money is set aside for his dream car — a Lamborghini.

“He has a passion for helping," she added.

Customers can see the charities Tuukka donates to on his website. He plans to donate to an organization helping the homeless next.

All of his efforts were noticed by a family friend who earlier this year asked if he could make the get-well shirt for Fetterman, and Tuukkaa presented it to the first-term senator at a Penn Ag Democrats' picnic in August.

“It went really well,” Tuukka said of the meeting.

Tiffany jokes that she serves as personal assistant to her son when she's not at her day job as a veterinary receptionist. Her pride is palpable.

“Although he doesn’t totally understand the ins and outs of the actual business side of things, his passion to want to help others really shows in his different ideas and thoughts about who to help next,” she said.

Tanisha Thomas, Newsletter writer / reporter

Our favorite quote about Pennsylvania — or from a Pennsylvanian — this week.

“He told me that we built this, and that this is our legacy, and we are champions.”

Angel Magwood on her husband, Eddie Barnz, encouraging her to rebrand and reopen their Pittsburgh restaurant, formerly Back to the Foodture, after the name drew legal threats from Universal Studios; they reopen this weekend

Our favorite reader-submitted photo of the week.
A silver-spotted skipper and butterfly share a perch, via Don H. Have a photo you want to share with the entire state? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
A yellow and black bird on a thistle bush. The bird is sharing the perch with an orange butterfly.
The answer to this week's Pennsylvania-centric trivia question.


A recent New Yorker profile of Wanda Sykes mentions she lives in Philadelphia — nearby Media, actually — when she isn't in Los Angeles. 

Her Netflix special "I'm an Entertainer" was also filmed in Philly.

Thanks for reading PA Local. We'll see you back here next week. But first ... send us your feedback. What did you like? What didn't you like? 

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