Ghosts & Salsa Music

This publication is named Amish Country News. Yet, as you can see from our cover story, there is a lot more to the area we generally call “Amish Country” than the Amish. The unique culture of our neighbors and stunning beauty of the farmlands are certainly what we are most famous for, as the 1985 movie Witness helped to reinforce. But I also love this area for the variety of things to do. Let me give you one example....

A few weekends ago, besides doing the normal weekend tasks, I found time for some other activities. Saturday, I took an evening tour titled “Ghosts and the Underground Railroad.” Our guide gave a brief introduction to the history of the Underground Railroad in this region as we drove through the lush, green countryside. I couldn’t help but thing that some of this scenery may not have changed all that much in the last one hundred years.

We soon arrived at a Quaker meetinghouse where some of the local Underground Railroad activists of 150 years ago were buried. Suddenly, we heard singing and a slave appeared. This re-enactor presented a dramatic and moving presentation of what it was like to be a slave on the run in search of freedom. He reminded us of the many people suffering and fighting for freedom today, and the many things we take for granted in our lives.

We then proceeded to the city of Lancaster, where a Ghosts of Lancaster guide took us down streets and alleys, pointing out some of the buildings in town, the oldest inland city in the United States. As we stopped here and there, she wove some interesting and bizarre tales about several of the historical residents and their hauntings, including stories of Civil War times and our bachelor President James Buchanan, the only President to come from Pennsylvania.

Sunday evening, I decided to attend an outdoor concert. I was torn between two options. The small town of Mountville in western Lancaster County (Mountville exit off Route 30), offers a summer concert series. The music is a nice range of “pops” fare every Sunday, starting at 7:00 pm. You bring your own lawn chair and find your spot where the street is closed off around the Mountville Church of the Brethren. There are sometimes more spectators than there are people who live in town. One highlight of this concert is free ice cream for everyone at intermission.

This night, however, I chose the concert at Long’s Park Amphitheater, just outside Lancaster City (Harrisburg Pike exit off Route 30). People sprawl on the huge lawn for an eclectic offering of music every Sunday night at 7:30 pm. The Grammy-winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra was the feature act, and many people came out to enjoy some great “salsa” music performed by a hot 16-piece group. The three male vocalists sang and did their dance steps in unison while a crowd soon started dancing in front of the stage. This concert was a nice way to kick off the local Puerto Rican Festival that started a couple days later. Fantastico!

Both of these concert series run through August, and both are free, including the parking. If you are looking for some local flavor while visiting our area, both of these concert series are wonderful events to enjoy. We are a diverse community, and that sometimes gets lost in all the attention to “Amish Country.” I can attend Celtic music concerts, explore our nation’s history, ride the roller coaster at Dutch Wonderland, enjoy one of America’s great Renaissance Faires, and stop on the way home at an Amish roadside stand for some homemade root beer and shoofly pie. That’s just a sample of the summer mix that makes this area so special. Perhaps as a visitor you will appreciate it all even more than many of us locals, who often take it all for granted.

Amish Country News Publisher's Message by Brad Igou (2005)


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