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The Pennsylvania summer stories worth watching

Plus, seven summer stories worth watching.


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Time and again you tell us about your PA Local moment: That incredible story you read about Pennsylvania that you would have never read anywhere else. You can count on that from us. Can we count on you now?

Thank you!

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

May 26, 2023
Inside this edition: Abandoned Pa., rare birds, Black Crossword, mushroom magic, superhero alibi, and summertime news. Thanks for stopping by.
🏆 PA IQ TEST: Think you're pretty smart? Put your knowledge to the test with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz: Unclaimed billions, gun laws, official tweets, and the unofficial start of summer.
A Pennsylvania-centric trivia question.

It's Memorial Day Weekend. What Pennsylvania borough has claimed the oldest Memorial Day Parade in the nation?

(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 thing worth reading: WGAL takes viewers to the site of an abandoned World War II POW interrogation camp in Cumberland County that became a church camp before falling into disrepair.

» One thing worth knowing: Researchers with the National Aviary in Pittsburgh say they've found a "ghost bird" that was almost declared extinct because its last "unchallenged" sighting was 79 years ago.

» One thing worth sharing: Temple grad Juliana Pache created the Black Crossword, a daily puzzle catered to the Black diaspora. This week's clues included "PBS news anchor Gwen _______" and "___ nuff."

» One thing worth watching: Wired went into the woods of central Pennsylvania with William Padilla-Brown, a medicinal mushroom cultivator who's fond of saying "all mushrooms are magic."

» One tweet worth answering: @KatiSipp asks: After a freak accident, you become Pennsylvania’s newest masked superhero. What do you tell people as an alibi when they start to suspect the superhero is you? 

Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism for Pennsylvania and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED.
» COVID-19 UPDATE: Your guide to finding resources on cases, vaccines, and tests

» New caucuses, special election season, and the death of a bill

» Pa. troopers search Black, Hispanic drivers more

» Pa. Democrats turn to bonds in race to plug orphan wells

» Getting unclaimed money back may get easier in Pa.

» Penn State’s budget plan shifted after private meeting

» Court rules on officials' personal social media use

» Join a free panel on Pa.’s troubled guardianship system

Philadelphia City Councilman Mark Squilla seen exiting a pool after jumping in with his shirt, tie, and suit pants on.
Philadelphia City Councilman Mark Squilla seen exiting a pool after jumping in with his shirt, tie, and suit pants on in 2017. (Elizabeth Robertson / Philadelphia Inquirer)

We’re packing up and headed out for the long weekend, and chances are you are too. Before we go, the unofficial start of the worst/best season of the year demands a quick (and also unofficial) list of the stories worth watching. Here are seven for the summer and the road.

The Heat

The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a “sizzling” summer for Pennsylvania, and the National Weather Service is too, saying most of the commonwealth has a 40% to 50% likelihood of above-normal temperatures from May to July, via Centre Daily Times (paywall). 

The Pools 

Pennsylvania’s biggest cities are still short on lifeguards. In Pittsburgh, the ongoing shortage has at least one local official eyeing alternatives to city pools as Philadelphia offers bonuses to new recruits — even if they can’t actually swim, CBS3 reports. Temple is offering college credits.

You could also head to Pennsylvania’s “secret beach” at Beaver County’s Raccoon Creek State Park. The sunscreen is on the house.

The Bugs 

After a few months off, spotted lanternflies are set to reemerge with a vengeance. Some experts say that the mild winter (remember sweating in February?) could mean even more lanternflies this year. Pennsylvania wine growers, for one, are fed up and ready for war, per Fast Company.

The Gas

Gas prices were inching up headed into this weekend, and while they’re still above pre- and mid-pandemic levels, they’re well below the record high hit last year at this time, per Axios. You may recall last year’s talk in Harrisburg of cutting or pausing Pennsylvania’s exceptionally high gas tax. Well, nothing came of it. (This feels like a good time for an Amtrak plug.)

And don’t look now, but your electric bill might be about to climb too.

The Fireworks

It will be another summer of backyard boomers in Pennsylvania, but state Rep. Tarah Probst (D., Monroe) is mounting another effort to walk back Pennsylvania’s 2017 opening of the pyrotechnic floodgates with a bill to re-ban consumer-grade fireworks statewide.

The Happenings

June will have Pride and Juneteenth celebrations statewide, and Hersheypark will unveil the heir to the Wild Cat throne.

July includes Harrisburg’s first-ever Fringe festival, the kickoff of the U.S. leg of Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour in Philadelphia, and the oldest continuously operated U.S. folklife festival returning to Kutztown.

In August, the Little League World Series tees up in Williamsport with a history-making team from Cuba.

The Phrench

Billy Penn reports that Philadelphia has both a French Quarter no one seemed to know about and a new food and tourism guide from the Francophiles over at Michelin Green Guide, which declares Philly the “Frenchest American city.”

In Pittsburgh, the summer beer of record is an Iron City Beer/Turner’s Iced Tea mashup that’s been described as a potentially dangerous level of “yinzer singularity” on Reddit and less bombastically as a “perfectly fine” tasting beverage by Pittsburgh’s alt-weekly, City Paper.

The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association, meanwhile, has named orange crush — the vodka drink, not the soda — as Pennsylvania’s official summer cocktail. Here’s the recipe, via FOX43, and an orange crush appreciation from Thrillist.

Happy trails.

Colin Deppen, PA Local editor

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

“I think it’s huge, especially since you’re talking about a state with the tradition Pennsylvania has. It’s the best wrestling state in the country. When you add girls wrestling to that, it’s only going to catch fire.”

—Bald Eagle Area Coach Ron Guenot on girls wrestling becoming an officially sanctioned school sport in Pennsylvania after years of lobbying

Our favorite reader-submitted photo of the week.
Harrisburg sunrise, via @yatsko. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
Sunrise lined up with the dome of the Pennsylvania State Capitol building.
The answer to this week's Pennsylvania-centric trivia question.

Doylestown in Bucks County has claimed the oldest Memorial Day Parade in the nation, but there's a challenge for the title from a town of about 3,500 in southeast Wisconsin, about 80 miles north of Chicago.

According to the Bucks County Courier Times (paywall)

Doylestown has claimed its Memorial Day Parade, first held in 1868, is the oldest in the country. But Rochester, Wisconsin says it's been holding its parade since 1866, while other towns claim 1867 starts.

"That all these places continue holding parades on Memorial Day to honor veterans is the important thing," Chris Suessenguth, Doylestown parade marshal and a Navy veteran told the paper. "Who was first isn't."

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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