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Our favorite people, places, and stories of 2022

Plus, one idea Pa. should absolutely steal from Ohio.

We're down to the wire and we need your support now. We're just $12,000 away from hitting our year-end fundraising goal of $125,000, but we only have 48 hours left. That means you still have until 11:59 p.m. Saturday to support Spotlight PA and get your gift TRIPLED.

Spotlight PA's vital investigative and public-service journalism cannot continue without you. Neither can this newsletter I know you enjoy each week. So why not take a moment and give any amount to keep it going?

Together we can kick the new year off right and keep uncovering Pennsylvania's quirks, charms, and characters in 2023.

Thank you!!

—Colin Deppen, PA Local editor
Welcome to PA Local, a free weekly newsletter about the great people, amazing places, and delicious food of Pennsylvania.

December 30, 2022
Inside this edition: What's dropping, grey lady, vault vision, "Big Leplowski," spikey map, Pa. phonetics, and the best of PA Local in 2022.
A Pennsylvania-centric trivia question.
Pennsylvania drops a lot of stuff on New Year's Eve. 

Which Pennsylvania town drops a big bologna? 

(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.

» Several things worth reading: The New York Times did some traveling in Pennsylvania in 2022, publishing pieces on Easton, New Hope, Stroudsburg, and a beloved sugar maple in Ligonier.

» One thing worth knowing: Pennsylvania is sitting on $4 billion in unclaimed property and storing it in the "largest operational vault in the U.S." Some of it might be yours. Check here to find out.

» One thing worth doing: PennDOT has its Paint the Plow program. But Ohio has a "name the plow" contest that drew entries like "Ctrl-Salt-Delete," "The Big Leplowski," "Plow Chicka Plow Wow," and more.

» One thing worth seeing: This impressive population density map of Pennsylvania that I desperately want to run my hand across.

» One thing worth sharing: What's a must-have tool for on-air talent in Pennsylvania? This pronunciation guide for town names.

Support Spotlight PA's independent, nonpartisan journalism for Pennsylvania and for a limited time, your gift will be TRIPLED.
A roadside sign reading "Welcome to Pennsylvania."
(Hands-free photo by Wyatt Massey)
LOCAL 2022

It's our last edition of PA Local for 2022, the year it all began. 

We launched this newsletter in February, and we've covered lots of ground and welcomed thousands of new readers in the months since. 

Here's a look at our ~10 favorite PA Local features of the year and a note: If this newsletter made you think, laugh, or say "hmmm" in 2022, share it with others and make a tax-deductible gift to Spotlight PA to unlock a limited-time match and keep PA Local going strong in 2023.

There's a lot of Pennsylvania left to cover.

Here's where we've gone so far:

  1. VIDEO VANGUARD: In March, we paid a visit to Jack Ceney — owner of Jack’s Discount Videos in Millvale, a Blockbuster predecessor and one of the oldest video stores left on earth. "I believe anything old becomes new again," Jack told us. (Full story)
  2. PET DETECTIVES: In May, we checked in with Pennsylvania's pet detectives, who shared their tricks of the missing pet trade, including drones mounted with heat-sensing cameras, and told me that my pet instincts were way off-base. (Full story)
  3. SECRET FAIR: In June, we went looking for Pennsylvania's state fair and found it hiding in plain sight. State officials told PA Local that Pennsylvania has actually had a state fair for more than a century. And it's held in January. Surprise! (Full story)
  4. PARKING HERO: Feeling confident (read: overconfident) in my parallel parking abilities, I auditioned for Pittsburgh's Parallel Parking Championship, immediately disqualified myself, and then interviewed the actual winner, who explained where I went wrong. (Full story
  5. ROCK STARS: Every year, Pennsylvania's award-winning French Creek hosts a stone-skipping competition that brings top-tier “rock stars” to Franklin, Venango County, from around the world. “Prizes are plaques and fudge,” an organizer explained. (Full story)
  6. WAR ON BUGS: The Spotted Lanternfly War heated up this year as the invasive species moved to new parts of the state. PA Local interviewed a retiree in Plymouth Meeting who amassed an astounding 13,000-plus confirmed kills. (Full story)
  7. HISTORY MAKERS: Pennsylvania has a Voter Hall of Fame with more than 23,000 inductees who went at least 50 consecutive cycles without missing a single November contest. PA Local talked to more than a dozen of them ahead of November's big midterms. (Full story)
  8. INTERNET FAMOUS: When the same heavily memed photo of Breezewood kept showing up in my social media feeds, I decided to trace it back to the source. I found the photographer — and a story of change in the iconic highway hitching post. (Full story)
  9. GOLD DIGGERS: The saga around a fabled trove of Civil War gold believed lost in rural Elk County has spanned years and led to a lawsuit around allegations of theft by the FBI. PA Local traced the story back to the psychic's vision that started it all. (Full story)
  10. WORK SONGS: Amid a wave of union activity and a high-profile strike in Pittsburgh, we sat in with the city's in-demand labor choir — one of, if not the last of its kind in Pennsylvania. (Full story)
We've also really enjoyed doing Q-and-As and talked with an expert on Pennsylvania's "secret" tropical fruit, the man behind the best mullet in the state, and an ex-Amish cook who opened a ghost kitchen.

Thanks for reading. It's been a year. We'll see you back here in 2023. 

Colin Deppen, PA Local editor 

Support Spotlight PA's vital investigative journalism and for a limited time, your gift will be TRIPLED.
A notable quote about Pennsylvania or one made by a notable Pennsylvanian.
"We finally made it to Pennsylvania! It seems like we’ve always been in New York."

George Hormell, who set out on a hike from Maine to California in 1976, cutting a swath across northwestern Pennsylvania in eight days
Our favorite photo of the week submitted by a PA Local reader.

A new year is dawning, via @yatskoSend us your photos or artwork, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

The sun over the dome of the Pennsylvania Capitol building.
The answer to this week's Pennsylvania-centric trivia question.
Lebanon rings in the new year with a bologna drop, a nod to the regional delicacy developed by the Pennsylvania Dutch there centuries ago.

City Paper reports it is one in a distinguished and odd line of Pennsylvania New Year's Eve traditions that includes a Peep drop in Bethlehem — home of the bird-shaped marshmallow candy — and a pants or "breeches" drop in Lisburn — home of Yellow Breeches Creek.

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? 
Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WITF Public Media.

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