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Netflix Mall, Fugees coffee, and making a mascot

Plus, Harrisburg's Homecoming Jubilee.

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

June 21, 2024

Inside this edition: Netflix House, 'Ceilings' fans, world premiere, Homecoming Jubilee, Little Amps experience, and making a mascot.
A Pennsylvania-centric trivia question.
The creators of the popular children’s book series The Berenstain Bears hail from which city in Pennsylvania?
A. Philadelphia
B. Harrisburg
C. York
D. Erie
(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.)
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Our five favorite Pennsylvania stories of the week.
» One House worth visiting: Netflix will launch a new immersive-experience venue based on its popular shows at the King of Prussia Mall next year. Philly Voice has a rundown of what to expect.
» One artist worth knowing: Montgomery County native and singer Lizzy McAlpine tells The Inquirer (paywall) about her journey to stardom and the viral hit “Ceilings.” She also shares her go-to order at Wawa.

» One thing worth watching: Hansen Bursic's documentary, Trans Heaven, about New Hope's legendary trans refuge is having its world premiere at the oldest and largest LGBTQ+ film festival in the world.
» One event worth sharing: A Homecoming Jubilee Picnic on Saturday in Harrisburg will bring together descendants of 25 exemplars of the Old Eighth Ward — the neighborhood the Pa. Capitol destroyed.
» One short worth reading: Ross Gay, writing in Orion Magazine, describes the moment a Fugees record sweeps through Little Amps Coffee in Harrisburg and instantly unites everyone in the place.

📬 How We Care

There are more than a million unpaid caregivers in Pennsylvania fulfilling vital and complex health care roles for loved ones, often with no training and few resources. You may be one. You may know one. Data show many of us will become one. 

Spotlight PA's newest weekly newsletter, How We Care, provides original reporting, guidance, and resources to empower home as well as professional caregivers across Pennsylvania. Sign up here.
🤔 Know your news? Prove it with this week's Great PA News Quiz.
The top stories published by Spotlight PA this week.
» PSU surgeon let go after raising transplant concerns
» Legal weed unlikely to make it into this PA budget
» Can Philly use opioid cash to improve Kensington?
» Suit says public defense underfunded by $100M-plus
» Waiting years for disability services in PA
Two people, one in a mascot costume, on marble steps in the state Capitol.
Paige Alana Bowermaster and the Keystone Kid. (Photo submitted)

Paige Alana Bowermaster gave Pennsylvania’s 200-year-old state symbol, the keystone, a face. Then came arms, legs, and a bowtie. 

Standing next to her creation on the steps of the Capitol Rotunda recently, the 23-year-old art school grad felt validated, maybe even vindicated. 

“Growing up, the arts was a really risky thing to go into, and everyone always advised against it,” she explained. “They're like, ‘Well, you want to earn a living, don't you?’ And I was always like, ‘Yes, I do want to earn a living, but I wanna earn one doing what I love.”

Bowermaster was paid for this assignment, a high-profile one at that. The mascot, dubbed the "Keystone Kid,” is representing Pennsylvania for America’s 250th birthday celebration in 2026. 

With state symbols, opinions are strong and not always friendly. And when the Keystone Kid debuted last month, some likened it to a "post-bong rip Chinese takeout box with an evil aura.”

Bowermaster wasn’t shaken.

“I almost personally feel like that's a point where you've kind of made it when people have opinions good and bad — that means they're paying attention to your work,” Bowermaster said.

They certainly are. Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Stephanie Farr, in a column about The Kid, noted that while “nearly every state” has a promotional organization focused on the 2026 semiquincentennial, so far “Pennsylvania is the only one with a fully fledged mascot.”

The group behind Pennsylvania’s hoopla planning is America250PA, an affiliate of the national America250 entity, which bills itself as “a nonpartisan initiative working to engage every American in commemorating the 250th anniversary of our country.”

Bowermaster interned for America250PA while a sophomore at the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design in Lancaster. In 2022, America250PA’s executive director, Cassandra Coleman, was working on a related educational program when her seven-year-old gave her an idea.

“I asked him ‘What would you like as part of the 250th?’ He said he would love a coloring book,” Coleman told PA Local. Bowermaster volunteered to design it and the Keystone Kid was born. 

The smiling rock with gentle eyes was a hit with the kids, leading Bowermaster to take it one step further.

“Paige said, ‘How cool would it be if we had the keystone come to life?’” Coleman recalled. More than two hundred years after the symbol was formally adopted by Pennsylvania, it did with a name first proposed by a Montgomery County second-grader. 

Where the keystone state nickname came from has been the subject of some dispute since its formal adoption around the year 1800.

A compilation of writings on the subject published in 1874 contains several versions. One (seemingly contested by the compiler) involves a bridge project near Washington, D.C. in which the architect "saw proper to place on the central block of its arch the abbreviation 'PA.'" Another says the designation owes to Pennsylvania Congressman John Morton's vote securing unanimous adoption of the Declaration of Independence in July of 1776. Yet another version, possibly intertwined with the last, was cited by U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson (R., Pa.) on the floor of the U.S. House last year with a reference to President Thomas Jefferson calling Pennsylvania a keystone of the federal union.

The symbol is likely more ubiquitous than ever today, featuring prominently on cans of beer, a proposed state flag redesign, and, as Farr noted, human skin.

Then there's the mascot.

You will be seeing more of Keystone Kid in the future — with years of semiquincentennial events planned — and likely more of Bowermaster too: “Seeing the mascot alive just inspires me to do what I do.”

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A quote from a Pennsylvanian that we found interesting this week.
“Even if they didn’t always understand me, my family knew the life-saving power of fanning the flame of a young person’s passions without judgment."
Lancaster County native Jonathan Groff during his acceptance speech after winning a Tony Award for leading actor on Sunday 
Our favorite reader-submitted photo of the week.
Trees in Cook Forest State Park, via @john_mccullough_photography. Have a Pennsylvania photo of your own to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
Intertwined trees.
The answer to this week's Pennsylvania-centric trivia question.
The answer is "A. Philadelphia." 

Stan and Jan Berenstain were both born in the City of Brotherly Love in 1923. Their son, Mike, has continued the Berenstain Bears series after their deaths and recently talked with Philly Voice about the sudden closure of University of the Arts and the family's connection to the school

Thanks for reading. We'll see you back here next week.
Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan & nonprofit newsroom producing investigative and public-service journalism that holds the powerful to account and drives positive change in Pennsylvania.

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