Harrisburg Magazine December 2022

Page 8

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Dimitri John Diekewicz Dustin Nispel Bill Roddey CONTRIBUTING ILLUSTRATORS Brad Maurer CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Will Masters Paul Vasiliades SALES OFFICE 717.233.0109 4309 Linglestown Road, Suite 115 Harrisburg, PA 17112 VOLUME 28 NO. 12 DECEMBER 2022 IN THIS ISSUE ... 6 30 38 Harrisburg Magazine® is published monthly at 4309 Linglestown Road, Suite 115, Harrisburg, PA 17112. Phone: 717.233.0109; harrisburgmagazine.com. Subscriptions available. Send change of address forms to Benchmark Group Media, 4309 Linglestown Road, Suite 115, Harrisburg, PA 17112. This issue or any part thereof may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from Harrisburg Magazine®, Inc. Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, photographs and disks if they are to be returned, and no responsibility can be assumed for unsolicited materials. All rights in letters sent to Harrisburg Magazine® will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and copyright purposes and as such are subject to a right to edit and comment editorially. Name and contents ©2022, Harrisburg Magazine, Inc. Printed by Freeport Press, Freeport, Ohio. 14 CINEMATIC RAMBLINGS 15 POEM 16 IT’S SHOWTIME FOR SANTA! 19 STB CELEBRATING 25 YEARS 28 STB 2023 CATEGORIES 30 REIKI: A COMPLEMENTARY THERAPEUTIC PRACTICE 33 FOOD & FUN 34 TOAST OF HARRISBURG 36 COMPLIMENTS TO THE CHEF 38 IT’S YOUR MOVE 39 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 44 STA - MEET THE WINNERS ON THE COVER It’s Showtime for Santa! This Talented Thespian & Stage Combat Choreographer Puts the ‘Saint” in St. Nick. See the story on page 16. HARRISBURGMAGAZINE.COM @HARRISBURGMAGAZINE
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Here comes Santa Claus, Here comes Santa Claus, Right down Santa Claus lane. -Gene Autry

Tis a season for memories and reminiscences. Last month, we took a trip down memory lane with historian David Morrison, who provided us a glimpse at holiday shopping in downtown Harrisburg, as it was 75 years ago. Now, this month, get ready for more time traveling, starting with a sleigh ride to Santa Claus Lane!

When I was a boy, kids my age commonly associated two main things with Christmas. First and foremost, St. Nick; followed closely by something the jolly old elf would routinely

leave beneath the tinseled tree for Christmas morning: namely, a new board game or two. So, it only seems appropriate that our December issue features both a profile of local actor, stage combat choreographer, and part-time Santa, Dan Burke; and a fun and witty celebration of centuries of “tabletop entertainment” by Dimitri John Diekewicz, who takes time to visit several Central PA locations where board games like Monopoly and Clue are sold, played – and cherished. Because Harrisburg Magazine has been your “Simply the Best” source for … well,

all the area’s “Simply the Best” businesses and personalities for the past 25 years, that sleigh ride I mentioned will also be making pit stops at a few of our “best of the best” winners over the years. We launch things this month with historical looks back at categories ranging from Best Bakery and Best Desserts to Best Burgers and Best Steak or Steakhouse. The Silver Anniversary tributes will continue until spring.

The words Simply the Best could also serve as a descriptor for Christina Heintzelman’s series profiling 2022’s “Simply the Art” winners. This month, she meets up at Heart and Soul Books in Linglestown with Performing Artist winner Ashley Nichole Walkowiak, Oil & Acrylic Painter winner Reina76, and Dance and Dance Instructor winner Cheryl Dondero, for a Q&A that is both illuminating and healing. Speaking of healing … in her article “Reiki: A Complementary Therapeutic Practice,” Christina discusses self-healing and self-nourishment with Rickie Freedman, owner of Reiki by Rickie.


For nourishment that soothes both the palate and stomach … our Bartender’s Choice for December profiles the Greystone Public House’s Brandon Hoover, talented mixologist by night and avid fly fisherman by day; Toast of Harrisburg visits Yellow Bird Café in Midtown Harrisburg on a sunny fall morning to enjoy a homemade “sunshine muffin” (and more); and, in a brand new feature, Compliments to the Chef profiles “the only wing man you’ll need,” Chef Matt Mager of Center Street Grille in Enola.

Though we didn’t have room for a short story this month, we still have literary offerings to please all tastes – from the sublime to the ridiculous. Dustin Nispel’s poem, “From the Shelter,” reminds us all to remember those who need to be remembered most during the holiday season; and Brad Maurer’s The Cercus takes a bug’s eye view of family Christmas dinners. Meanwhile, satirist Bill Roddey continues to jab and poke at modern conventions with more of his acerbic Off the Cuff one-liners.

Don’t forget our columns! Film & TV historian Kevyn Knox “dreams” about his all-time favorite Christmas movie in Cinematic Ramblings ; Andrea Reed embraces the benefits of mindful eating during the holidays in Nourishing Bites ; Kristen Zellner reminds pet owners that their four-legged friends can get the blues during the holidays, too, in For the Love of Pets ; Stefan Hawkins’ By the Book recommends some good wintertime reads for young and old; Bryson Roof provides tips and tricks for Open Enrollment season in The Finance Hound ; Barbara Trainin Blank previews holiday offerings at local stages in Theatre Thoughts ; and HACC’s Robert Stakem highlights ways to guard against credit card fraud and theft in Tailboard Talk 7

Here’s hoping that Santa is good to you and yours this holiday season!


The Cercus reserves all reproduction rights, including the right to claim statutory copyright, in the above published Work. The Work may not be photographed, sketched, painted, or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the express, written consent of The Cercus.

‘A River Runs Through’ This Talented Mixologist’s Life

Think Brad Pitt in the film A River Runs Through It . Now think Brad Pitt supplementing his income by slinging drinks at an upscale Harrisburg restaurant that “once upon a time” was an historic 18th-century tavern. Add a dash of your favorite appetizer, entrée, or dessert, and what do you have? The recipe for an evening of custom-made cocktails and thoughtful conversation with Brandon Hoover at Greystone Public House on Colonial Road, this month’s Bartender’s Choice selectee.

“Okay,” you say, “I get the part about cocktails and conversation. But what does an acclaimed 1992 film have to do with any of this?”

Aside from Hoover’s Brad Pitt-like ruggedness and charisma? Plenty. For, you see, when Hoover isn’t tending bar at Greystone he’s likely to be found chest-high in a Montana river, fly fishing. Which, of course, is what Paul Maclean (Pitt) and his brother Norman (Craig Sheffer) spend much of their time doing in A River Runs Through It, a movie praised for both its lyricalness and Oscar-winning cinematography.

Though it’s been Hoover’s bartending gig at Greystone that’s been paying the bills for the past year-and-a-half, he considers Amateur Fly-Fisherman to be his “day job.”

“It’s definitely a purpose in my life,” he asserts. “It’s definitely a pursuit of mine that I put a lot of time into, and effort. I was just out in Montana a couple of weeks ago for a whole week … Southwest Montana, near Yellowstone, with a couple of guys. We had a cabin on the Madison River and we just fished all day and night. Slept, and then did the same thing the next day. It’s something I picked up during the Covid lockdown and just kind of never looked back.”

One of four bartenders on the team at Greystone, the Cedar Cliff High School and Penn State grad derives as much pleasure “making people happy” as he does from traveling and trout fishing. “I enjoy meeting new people as well,” he says, “and relating to

Bartender’s or Barista’s Choice
The KFC, Fall Flyer, and Greystone Sour

people and learning about their lives.”

Hoover excels at creating new drinks and loves bouncing ideas back and forth with his co-workers Christy, Barbara, and Michelle. Mixed for us with matinee idol flair on a sunny October afternoon were: The KFC (which stands for “Kentucky F****** Coffee”; recipe at the end of this article); the Fall Flyer, a variation on a Paper Plane made with Apple Jack Bourbon Whiskey and Ginger Liqueur; and the Greystone Sour, an Amaretto-infused take on the classic Whiskey Sour.

Look for at least one of the above drinks to make it onto Greystone’s new menu for the winter – and for some additional tasty concoctions for the holidays.

“We’ve been playing around with cranberry,” elaborates Hoover, “and we might add a cranberry drink to our upcoming menu, and kind of have that be a Christmassy kind of thing. It’s still a work in progress at the moment, but we’re all pretty excited about it. I encourage people to come in and check it out.”

Brandon’s Dossier

Words of advice to home mixologists:

My words for home mixologists are to keep it simple. Get some bar tools such as: a jigger (preferably Japanese style), mixing glass (a pint glass is fine), bar spoon (preferably Japanese style) a cocktail shaker and strainer. Learn the basic fundamentals and some classic cocktails like Manhattans, Martini’s, etc, and go from there. Identify the purpose for the ingredients you’re using and how they will complement each other. Bartending is a lot like baking. Have some fun but keep it simple.


I draw inspiration from a lot of interests in my life. I lived in Los Angeles for 5 ½ years, where there are many excellent bartenders, and I’ve traveled a lot. I’ve been fortunate to meet and work with a lot of knowledgeable people.

I was very fortunate to work for an excellent restaurant group while in California, where learning, growth and structure was always encouraged. A friend and former coworker of

See Greystone Public House on Page 8



2 oz Woodford Bourbon

2 dashes of Orange Bitters

1 oz Tia Maria Coffee liqueur

Stir in a mixing glass

Strain over fresh ice or an ice sphere

Garnish with an orange peel

Tequila Fashioned

(Build in a mixing glass)

2 dashes Angostura Bitters

1 dash Orange Bitters

0.5 oz Blue Agave Syrup

Orange Peel (No pulp or rind)

2 dashes (0.5 oz) Club Soda

Muddle ingredients

Add 2 oz Anejo Tequila

Fill with ice, stir ingredients

Strain over ice sphere

Garnish with orange peel

Bartender, Brandon Hoover - Greystone Public House

Greystone Public House, continued from Page 7 mine, Steven Berry, was always putting on a show making drinks with just the right amount of flair to enhance the restaurant’s atmosphere. Barbara Nork, a coworker of mine at Greystone, who was very gracious with me and set high standards when I first started working here. I had an excellent conversation with a bartender at the Doug Fir Lounge on a rainy night in Portland, Oregon years ago. I think his name was Ben. He really opened up and taught me a lot in a couple hours … I always appreciated that.

Favorite spirit straight: Tequila. While a glass of whiskey neat is always nice, give me a glass of Don Julio® Blanco on the rocks with a lime wedge and I am a very happy man.

Recommendations of two or three spirits to try: I’m big on Mezcal. It’s from Mexico and has a very interesting smoky profile from the way it’s made. Each Mezcal I’ve tried has a different level of smokiness. My favorite is Del Maguey. Mezcal gives an interesting twist to a lot of established recipes such as a Negroni, Margarita, Mules or even rinsing a glass for a smoky Tequila Fashioned.

Gran Gala is an interesting liqueur that I enjoy. It’s an Italian orange liqueur. I love using it in Margaritas when I’m at home or having a glass after a good meal. It’s a little sweet, smooth with a zesty spiciness that I really enjoy.

Gray Whale Gin is a spirit I had the pleasure of trying one afternoon. It’s delicious, and one of the only gins I’ll enjoy served neat. It’s from Golden State Distillery in California and they’ve incorporated ingredients from six different areas of the California Coast, a place that is very important to me.

Favorite spirits to mix:

I can’t say I truly have a preference, but most of my ideas involve bourbon.

Most commonly ordered drinks at your bar:

It really varies depending on the day. Our seasonal and signature cocktails sell very well, but we also have a good selection of wines by the glass and bottle, and a favorable amount of beer on tap.

Philosophy on drinks:

I have a couple philosophies on drinks. Good drinks, great company, and excellent conversation is a good place to be. Most importantly, knowing the basics and make them great. I once heard someone say, “The basic fundamentals, refined to perfection, are your most advanced techniques.” I think that philosophy applies to almost anything. You need to have the basics down with cocktails before you start getting wild.

Thoughts about your cocktails:

With all my creative endeavors, I always come from the place of recognizing that I’m not necessarily going to re-invent the wheel. Build on the basic concepts but isolate different flavors and try out different ingredients. It’s always been about the desire to make drinks and come up with ideas that I would enjoy myself, serving it to a guest and seeing if it checks out.

Your day job (if bartending isn’t your day job):

Amateur Fly-Fisherman and Fly-Tyer. It’s something I picked up during the COVID lockdowns in 2020. I’ve traveled to many states to fish over the last two years. I’ve always been a traveler, but Central Pennsylvania is home. Art, music, and food are some of the things I enjoy as well. Bartending allows me to have time to pursue the things that I love.


What days/times do you typically work at the bar: I’m typically working Wednesday through Saturday in the evenings. Occasionally, you may catch me working a Sunday brunch. 7

NOMINATE A BARTENDER OR BARISTA! harrisburgmagazine.com/submissions

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

Iremember a quote I heard some time ago from the late great Maya Angelou that went something like “You can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle three things: a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights.” It instantly made me chuckle. As early as November 1st you can catch people putting up their Christmas lights in anticipation of the holiday season. No more than two hours pass after children have opened their Halloween candy, and you find the parents unpacking the family tree. I haven’t helped hang Christmas lights in my home in some time, as we stopped celebrating certain traditions a few years back, but I can vividly remember untangling all those lights, and becoming frustrated and annoyed by the amount of time and energy it took to get them unraveled. Once the lights were hung, I can say that I enjoyed the warmth and joyous feeling that came over our home. It brought an unknown calming and soothing touch to the house that was missed throughout the rest of the year.

We’re just getting out of Turkey Day. Hopefully everyone ate good, while enjoying some great NFL football games and spending time with their family. I can still taste my Aunt’s famous Baked Mac & Cheese, Candied Yams, Spanish Rice and butter-soft dinner rolls. I can eat Thanksgiving dinner everyday, twice a day all year round. I think I put on 15 pounds every year from all the great food being passed around the dinner table. There’s nothing like good food, family and football.

We are now in that magical time frame of the year where we spend the most amount of time with our family and friends, probably more than we do any other month. And if you haven’t thought of the perfect gift, nor purchased that gift by now, I believe that I have a few book recommendations that I think everyone would like for the holiday season, whether it’s for an adult or a kid. I always say that there’s nothing like a great book to read during the winter season, or at the beginning of the year to set the tone for the coming months.

Am I the only person with New Year’s reading goals? Oh, I’m not. That’s good. Here’s that small list of books to get each of you in the spirit of good old Saint Nick:

• The 12 Days of a Soul Food Christmas by LaShonda M. Stewart

• I Got the Christmas Spirit by Connie Schofield-Morrison

• Santa In the City by Tiffany D. Jackson

• The Girl Who Ruined Christmas by Cindy Callaghan

• The Truth About Mrs. Claus by Meena Harris

• The Twelve Topsy-Turvy, Very Messy Days of Christmas by James Patterson

• The Absolute Worst Christmas of All Time by Sean Dietrich

• One Last Gift by Emily Stone

As we finish up with the holidays and we find ourselves approaching the New Year, we have to look back on 2022 with a lot of gratitude and thanks. Things may not have turned out how we wanted and we could be in better places, but we always have tomorrow for things to get better. Even if life is good, with everything falling into place everyday, we still should give thanks that we’re here to enjoy another year.

I’d like to say Happy Holidays from myself, and everyone here at Harrisburg Magazine. We wish everyone a blessed holiday, and want everyone to spend as much time with their loved ones as possible. 7

Stefan Hawkins was born and raised in Harrisburg. He opened Good Brotha’s Book Cafe in January 2021 and has been leading a Good Brotha’s Can’t Read Book Club since last summer.

Give Yourself the Gift of Mindful Eating This Holiday Season

The holiday festivities are nearly synonymous with an abundance of tasty treats. It can be easy to overindulge as we celebrate with our friends and family. Focusing on becoming more present when we eat can help us honor our traditions and our bodies. Mindful eating allows us to listen to our body and thoughts while we eat and include different sensory experiences as a part of our meals.

For most of us, mindful eating begins with permitting ourselves to eat all foods. This doesn’t mean we have to eat what is offered or that we should eat everything available, but rather make the choice of what we will eat. By empowering ourselves to make a choice, we rid ourselves of feelings of guilt and deprivation. When foods are not forbidden, we may find them less tempting.

It can be hard for us to set aside distractions when we are socializing over the feast in front of us, but by sitting down we can be more present

when we eat. We can remove distractions by turning down the TV or putting our phones down. At the very least, taking a few deep breaths can put us more in touch with our bodies before we begin to eat. This can also help prepare us to use all of our senses to eat. It can be easy to eat with our eyes when we are looking at an array of beautiful cookies but slowing down to smell, experience textures, and truly savor the taste can help us be a more mindful eater.

Using our senses builds up our ability to listen to our bodies. When we are in touch with our senses and practice being present while eating, it is easy to truly honor our hunger and fullness. Most of us know when to eat because our stomach growls, perhaps a headache comes on, or we are starting to feel like we don’t have energy. Respecting our hunger means we eat when we are hungry, which includes avoiding skipping meals so that we aren’t overly hungry later. This helps us maintain the

Book/Stefan Hawkins

ability to choose what foods and in what amounts we want to consume. Honoring our fullness means we stop when we are pleasantly full and skip that uncomfortable overfull feeling. Remember, we can have food whenever we want, but right now our bodies have had enough. Some signs that we are full include a physical sensation of a full stomach or perhaps food doesn’t taste quite as good. We can ask ourselves if this bite tastes as good as the first. No? Perhaps we are getting full. Using a 1-10 scale, with 5 as neither hungry nor full, can help us make a mental note of how we are feeling before and after we eat.

By creating awareness of what, when, and how we eat, we can honor our hunger, and fullness, and savor each bite. Mindful eating isn’t about perfection, but about building habits to help keep us healthy. We may

never eat completely mindfully, but by honoring our bodies we can enjoy the guilt-free holidays, cookies and all! 7

Andrea Reed, MPS, RDN, LDN, is a freelance dietitian with a background in agricultural sciences. Growing up in the outdoors of Pennsylvania inspired her to include agricultural education in her nutrition counseling and is the focus of her writing. To find out more about Reed Nutrition visit https://reedrdn.com.

Tips and Tricks for Open Enrollment

It’s that time of year. Inboxes across the country are full of reminders from Human Resources. It’s open enrollment season! While picking your benefits might seem like a chore, don’t fall into the trap of simply defaulting to the same elections as last year. It’s important to take a moment to review your benefits and make sure you’re taking advantage of what your company is offering.

Retirement Benefits:

At a base level, confirm that your beneficiary designations match your wishes. Did you get married, or did you become a parent? These life events could necessitate updating your beneficiaries. While you are checking your beneficiaries for retirement accounts, make certain that your life insurance beneficiary designations also reflect your desires.

Next, affirm that you’re receiving the full company match. This is free money that the company puts into your retirement account based on your contribution amounts. Update your budget and prioritize saving enough into your 401(k) to fully participate in this powerful benefit.

The IRS increased the maximum employee contribution limit from $20,500 for 2022 to $22,500 for 2023. And for individuals 50 years and older, the catch-up provision increased to $7,500. So, individuals 50 years or older may save a total of $30,000 towards their retirement. Even if you think you are maxing out your 401(k), it’s prudent to double

check. I have had individuals tell me they are maxing out their 401(k) only to realize that they are only contributing $17,000/year, which was the IRS contribution limit in 2012.


Whether it’s regulations or cost, healthcare is constantly changing. If your employer offers multiple types of health insurance, take a moment to read your policy and make elections based on your current health. If you are young and don’t go to doctor’s offices on a regular basis, a high deductible plan with a Health Savings Account (HSA) may be an ideal solution for you. Saving into an HSA has

triple tax advantages and can be a valuable financial planning tool for retirement. However, if you are utilizing a doctor on a regular basis or planning a major surgery, I would suggest analyzing your deductible, out-of-pocket maximum, and co-insurance to determine which health care option is the best for you.

Quick Tip!

Your Human Resources department has spent considerable time developing the benefit plan and knows your package inside and out. Even as a Certified Financial Planner, I meet with my HR department on an annual basis and go through my elections. It’s extremely helpful to have someone give me a quick overview of my health insurance choices, explain any changes to disability and life insurance, and any material changes to the 401(k). It’s definitely worth the half hour! 7

Bryson J. Roof, CFP®, is a financial advisor at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Harrisburg, and has been quoted nationally in various finance publications including CNBC, U.S. News & World Report, and Barron’s.

Sledgehammer comedian Gallagher has died. Watermelons all over the world are saying “Thank God!”

Confession. I’m Ikea furniture. I have a few screws loose.

The earth just reached 8 billion people which means more people claiming, “I’m right and you’re wrong.” causing even more wars.

The Finance Hound/Bryson Roof
With Elon Musk’s troubled takeover of Twitter, he slashed half his staff,
his executive board, and even downsized the name Twitter to Twit.

It’s Time for the Holidays…

Langston Hughes — best known for his poetry and novels — also wrote several plays. His Black Nativity, a retelling of Christianity’s Nativity Story set to jubilant gospel music, is coming to the renovated West Shore Theatre in New Cumberland via Sankofa African American Theatre Company, December 9, 10, and 11. “We wanted to amplify black joy and to establish a [theater] piece we could do annually,” said artistic director Sharia Benn. With music arranged by Aaron Robinson, Black Nativity expresses African American spirituality and the oral traditions of its church. Sankofatheatrehbg.com

Keystone Theatrics (at Allenberry Playhouse) presents Harry Connick Jr.’s The Happy Elf, December 2-17. Music and lyrics are by Connick, a Grammy Award-winning and Tony Award-nominated composer/lyricist, and book by Lauren Gunderson and Andrew Fishman. The musical comedy tells the tale of Eubie the Elf, a lovable fellow who wants to spread Christmas joy throughout the town of Bluesville. Keystonetheatrics.com

There’s holiday fare galore at Open Stage. Continuing through December 22 in the Studio Theater is Who’s Holiday, starring Rachel Landon in an adults-only irreverent comedy. A Christmas Carol, based on Charles Dickens’s classic novel and adapted by Stuart Landon and Rachel Landon, returns for its 23rd triumphant year and stars Nicholas Hughes, December 3-23. Openstagehbg.com

At Gamut Theatre, TMI presents The Last Laughs of 2022 on December 31, with shows at 9, 10, and 11 p.m. Popcorn Hat Players offers Countdown to Noon on December 31 at The Whitaker Center’s Sunoco Theatre. Gamuttheatre.org.

Susquehanna Stage features Rent , a rock musical with music, lyrics, and book by Jonathan Larson. Loosely based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Bohème , it tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive and create in Lower Manhattan’s East

Village under the shadow of HIV/AIDS, December 9-18. On Broadway, Rent won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Musical; it was also adapted into a movie. Susquehannastage.com .

Onstage at Ephrata Performing Arts Center, Rudolf the Red-Nose Reindeer, Jr., runs December 2-18. In this classic story of fitting in — a reminder to be kind to everyone — Rudolph is cast away for the difference between him and the other North Pole reindeer. After finding himself on the Island of Misfit Toys, he and some newfound friends are presented with a request: to ask Santa Claus to find the toys homes for Christmas. Ephrataperformingartscenter.com

Fulton Theatre offers a double bill. Continuing through December 31 is Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, the heartwarming musical based on the timeless 1954 film. Fulton’s largest dance show of the season sparkles with enormous tap numbers, revolving pianos, and a shimmering score featuring such well-known standards as “Blue Skies,” “How Deep Is the Ocean,” and the title song.

Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol, in which coldhearted Scrooge encounters spirits of Christmases past, present, and future, is reimagined just for The Fulton. The Victorian setting is peppered with pop-culture references, and the show is enhanced by a holiday singalong. Suitable for all audiences, through December 23. Thefulton.org 7

Barbara Trainin Blank is a freelance journalist, book author, editor, and playwright. She grew up in New York City in a house rich in the arts, which are a major focus of her writing. She lived in Harrisburg for 24 years and continues to contribute to regional publications.

Protect Against Credit Card Fraud, Theft

‘Tis the season for shopping, and, unfortunately, the season for credit card fraud and theft. Whether you are traveling, stopping for gas, or shopping with family and friends, it is important to be mindful of potential credit card fraud.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has several resources that define credit card fraud and current scams, advise how to avoid becoming a target, and outline what to do if that happens. Be savvy when using a credit card. Here’s how:

• Become educated and aware

• Look for credit card skimmers at gas pumps

• Be aware of online phishing scams

• Ensure the websites you use are secure

• Use available resources

• Consider using mobile payment apps for a second layer of security

• Shop in stores that have chip readers

• Use a password manager and a virtual credit card number online when possible

• Access free credit reports to monitor credit history for any unrecognized accounts or charges

• Go to IdentityTheft.gov to report identity theft and get a recovery plan

• Engage in secure activities

• Don’t utilize public Wi-Fi for purchases

• Don’t save credit card information online

• Be careful when sharing information on social media

The FTC also recommends taking the following steps if your credit cards are lost or stolen:

• Immediately report a lost or stolen card

Tailboard Talk/Robert Stakem

• Follow up with the issuing agency to ensure the report was received

• Set up a credit freeze

• Initiate a fraud alert in the event the card has unauthorized activity

• Closely monitor credit card accounts

• Verify no additional charges are made

• Report additional charges to the issuing agency immediately

• Include coverage in a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy for lost or stolen credit cards

This information can be valuable for protecting financial health not only this holiday season, but all year long. 7

Robert Stakem is executive director of the Senator John J. Shumaker Public Safety Center at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College.


Home Alone Blues: Providing Care for Pets During the Holiday Season

We’re entering a pretty hectic time of year. Schedule changes can rock our worlds but the impact on our pets is much greater. Holiday parties and activities, concerts, church, and other special events take us away from home when our pets expect us to be there. For this reason, we always plan for someone to care for our seven animals when we cannot. Their comfort and safety in our absence is very important.

If you’re like my family, you probably stress about what’s going to happen to your pets while you are away. Without regular schedules, pets can demonstrate negative and abnormal behaviors. Scratching furniture, digging, relieving themselves indoors, hiding, growling, and barking are some of the ways our pets communicate that they are anxious.

The best way to make the holidays more relaxing for your pets is to arrange for their care in advance and have a backup plan. There is almost nothing worse than scrambling to prepare for a trip and acquiring pet care at the last minute. Even though there are some great pet sitters in our area, there are very few of them and they are often booked.

Pet sitting is costly, but it is a profession that requires a set of specialized skills. A good sitter will comfort, feed, walk, play, cuddle, clean up, water plants, bring in the mail, and make sure the house is secure. They also need to be good problem solvers and quick to react if something doesn’t go as planned. A professional pet sitter should be licensed and insured and provide you with references from their clients. Ask potential sitters about their philosophy on pet care. If you have a pet with behavioral issues, you don’t want a sitter who will use negative

reinforcement. In addition, you can ask for criminal background check documentation to be sure that the person does not have a history of animal abuse or theft.

If you can’t get a professional pet sitter, ask a trusted friend, but please expect to pay them. If they refuse to take money, send them a generous gift card or something nice that they enjoy. Pets are family and good care is priceless. A gift sends the message that you recognize and appreciate the care your pets received.

Be prepared this holiday season by pre-planning your events and line up someone who can care for your animals during the hustle and bustle. Check out Rover.com or Petsitter.com to find a local service or ask for a referral from your vet’s office or pet store. Make sure your pets have had their most recent wellness check and stock up on their supplies and prescribed medication. Before you leave, contact your veterinarian to let them know someone else will be caring for your pets. This ensures that the pet sitter will be able to take your animals to the vet in an emergency. Peace of mind is priceless when you are away from your pets. Have a safe and happy holiday season! 7

Kristen Zellner owns Abrams & Weakley General Store for Animals, est. 1986, Central PA’s first health food store for pets. She helps customers keep their pets healthy through better nutrition.

Singing the Praises for a “White Christmas”

So, I like Christmas. I really like Christmas. Anyone who knows me knows this – and is probably annoyed by it. I know I drive my wife crazy by playing Christmas music for two whole months. Yeah, I’m that guy. So, I guess that means I like Christmas movies, too. Well, I do.

Now Christmas movies come in all shapes and sizes – and genres. You have the heartfelt family drama (“Miracle on 34th Street”); the silly goofball ones (“Elf”); the twisted comedic ones (“Bad Santa”); the extravagant musicals (“White Christmas”); the horror ones (“Silent Night, Deadly Night”); and the horrible ones (anything on the Hallmark Channel). You even have the ones that many do not consider Christmas movies. I will stand till the day I die on that hill that “Die Hard” IS INDEED a Christmas movie. But I digress.

What I want to blather on about today is my favorite Christmas movie of all time. That would be the aforementioned “White Christmas.” It is

a tradition in our household (even while my wife is being driven crazy with Christmas music) that we watch “White Christmas” every year –preferably in a theatre.

Yes, the movie is corny - but hey, it’s a Christmas movie (and a musical!!) so of course it’s going to be corny. Just how I love it. Now, “White Christmas,” which was released in 1954, stars Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney (George’s aunt), Vera-Ellen, and the insanely charismatic Danny Kaye. It’s the story of two ex-GI’s who are now a successful stage act and the two sisters they help with their career. Okay, there’s a lot more to it but I wouldn’t want to spoil it in case you haven’t seen it yet. Plus, I have a word limit here, too. But

For The Love of Pets/Kristen Zellner
Cinematic Ramblings/Kevyn Knox

again, I digress.

The movie is actually a remake of a 1942 film called “Holiday Inn” – for which the song White Christmas was originally written (and won an Oscar!!). That film starred Bing and Fred Astaire, with Marjorie Reynolds and Virginia Dale. That movie was about an inn that catered to each holiday. Bing, along with director Michael Curtiz (who incidentally, while “Holiday Inn” was in theatres, was winning an Oscar for “Casablanca”) decided to remake the movie, while narrowing down the theme to just one holiday. Spoiler alert: it’s Christmas!!

“White Christmas” was a much better movie than “Holiday Inn” – plus, it didn’t have a musical number done in blackface like the earlier film did (ugh). The songs. The sets. The costumes. The VistaVision!! Rosemary Clooney’s voice!! Danny Kaye’s hilarity!! Maybe I’m a bit biased being a Christmas junkie, but I’m also a discerning film critic – so there!

But seriously, if you haven’t seen this classic film (or even if you have) check it out this holiday season. Be it on a streaming service (Netflix has it) or in a local theatre (many cinemas will screen the film this time of year). You will not regret it. Oh, and also this: Have a happy holiday – no matter which one you celebrate. That’s it, gang. See you at the movies. 7

Kevyn Knox is a Writer, Artist, Pop Photographer, Film & TV Historian, Pez Collector, and Pop Culturist. He has written film reviews for FilmSpeak, Central PA Voice, and The Burg. His reviews & other ramblings can be found on his blog, www.allthingskevyn.com.

From The Shelter

When the lights are strung when the annual ornaments find the perfect branch to rest their neck and you stand back in awe of its holiday beauty

Remember us

When your bellies are full of love and spirit cheers when warmth emanates from embrace and a new year nears

Remember us

Around our empty tables sheltered in our shadows when the darker nights surrender tears light your candles for us when the ribbons are cut the paper bagged and the laughter echoes down the decorated halls

Remember us the separated the widows the broken remnants

Our bleeding hands sifting pink slips and debtor demands fists for misfits making walls dance Say a prayer for us at your table be grateful lift us in your energy your holiday toast Bless the less fortunate give love where love is needed most in softness

Remember us 7

Crypto’s gone Crapto.

Bit coin’s bit investors on the patootie.

The first world wide web was white smoke from the Vatican. Just sayin’.

Never META Face he couldn’t Book. Till now. He hadda fire 11,000 workers. “I got this wrong!”

- Mark Zuckerberg

When you see the smiles on the children and they run toward you in their wild perfection hold them close tell them you love them and

Remember us

Parents of past dreams survivors of scar tissue and stitched seams when you leave your cookies by the tree and tuck in tight and your mind drifts into warm sheets in soft light

Remember us

Dustin Nispel has been writing poetry and prose since he was 13, and published The Tower, his first book of poetry, in 2014 through Community Arts Ink. He has won multiple awards for his writing and performances in slams and competitions. His newly released poetry collection, The Road Home, is filled with his own illustrations and depicts the struggle in finding what we all seek: happiness and healing. A successful artist, Dustin has sold many original paintings and commissioned works all over the U.S. under the alias Denzy Dark. Born in York, PA, he currently resides in Gardners, PA.

Poem/Dustin Nispel

It’s Showtime for Santa!

This Talented Thespian & Stage Combat Choreographer Puts the ‘Saint” in St. Nick

It would be an understatement to say that Dan Burke has been the wearer of many hats.

Starting in the 8th grade, it would have been a top hat, as a member of the dance troupe in Cedar Cliff’s production of “Hello, Dolly” – the young Burke’s first time on stage.

Fast forward several years, and his head was adorned with a mortarboard, having graduated from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia with a BFA in acting, with an emphasis in Stage Combat.

Burke’s early working years would find him wearing the “hats” of a factory worker at Atlas Roofing Corporation, and eventually a salesman for a national company called Safety-Kleen. The sole breadwinner in the household while his then wife got her teaching certificate, Burke would come full circle after getting laid off – donning the cap (picture maybe a Shakespearean bourrelet) of his first love, returning to acting and directing while launching his own business, Safe Violence by Dan Burke.

Keeping actors and audiences safe by choreographing hundreds of stage combat scenes (and, more recently, also stage intimacy scenes) has been both Burke’s mission and passion for decades now. Equally devoted to the stage and his community, you may also catch him these days at the recently refurbished West Shore Theatre in New Cumberland, fulfilling his duties as Vice President of Friends of West Shore Theatre. Which is where we found him recently, wearing a hat of, literally, a different color.


“Santa” Burke hasn’t spent all his adulthood wearing a red velvet suit and matching cap. In fact, when pressed he admits “I’ve never had an interest in portraying St. Nick.” Nevertheless, here he was, attired from head to boot in a suit handstitched by his mother. Burke explains, “She made this suit for me, because her side of the family has a family Christmas party every year, up near Williamsport, and they would have a Santa come in and pass out candy canes or presents.”

“And my mom said, ‘we don’t need to hire anybody … Daniel can do it!’ So, I was like ‘ahh, I don’t really want to do that.’”

Want to or not, as the youngest son –and a good sport - Burke played along, reluctantly at first, while vowing never to partake of the stereotypical department store, kid-bouncing-on-knee Santa routine. “It was a real pain,” he says, ably hiding a wince behind his cascading white beard. “It’s not easy getting into this garb, what with the boots and the pants. And it’s hot! I really didn’t enjoy it.”

But the enjoyment level took a decidedly positive turn one day when Burke – in full Santa regalia - was visiting one of his favorite local haunts, Nick’s 114. “I started coming in there randomly and passing out candy canes, and he [Nick] hires me,” Burke says with a laugh. “So now, he comes and picks me up, takes me down, and I work the room for an hour and pass out candy canes, tell stupid jokes, and if there’s kids there I squat down and ask them what they want.”

As they say, Christmas comes but once a year, and renting himself out to restaurants and bars has become a seasonal activity that Burke looks forward to. “I don’t belong to any improv troupe,” he says, “but I’m an actor, so I know how to improvise and play with people. Now that’s what I like!”

And he likes it enough to sometimes offer his Kris Kringling services gratis.


“I’m gonna tell you what was really cool, and what really launched me.”

That is how Burke humbly prefaces his tale of kindness – a story that would make the original St. Nicholas of Myra blush with pride. Because, after all, every Santa and Santa’s Helper must be some part of an existential brotherhood, right?

Anyway, the “thing” that not only launched but further cemented Burke’s yearly goal to

bring Santa to the masses was … Covid. He explains: “when everything was shut down, and the kids were going through so much. They weren’t in school, no contact … so, I started doing Zoom sessions for Santa. And I set up my living room. In front of the fireplace, I had ‘Merry Christmas’ and I had lights and stuff, and I had a chair. And, if somebody booked me, I would talk to the parents, and beforehand I would know the kid’s name, I would know their favorite Mighty Pup, I’d know what they had for breakfast, I’d know their favorite friend, I’d know what sports they liked. So, Santa knows when we Zoom in. I can say ‘so, I hear you like this Mighty Pup,’ or I’d pull up my phone and be like ‘here is my favorite Pokemon.’ And they were blown away. And I was like ‘Oh, how was your spaghetti and meatballs tonight?’ And they’re like ‘whaaat?’ (laughs) Santa knows.”

And get this: Burke didn’t charge anything for the sessions. Dozens of Zoom sessions with people across the country –yes, for free!

“They were like ‘what do you charge?,’ and I said ‘nothing.’ I said ‘if you want to give me anything, I have a Venmo account, or you can drop off a check or send me a check or money, I don’t care.’ But I’m doing it for the kids. I’m not setting a price on it.”

He continues, “It was fun, and it made me feel good. Because I would talk to the kids and get to hear what they want for Christmas, and I would ask them if they wanted to sing ‘Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ with Santa, and they all did, so we would sing Rudolph. And I would end it by saying ‘would you like Santa to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’? And everybody says ‘yeah.’ So, I would read it and show them the pictures and stuff.”


With Covid in its waning days and a degree of normalcy returning, Burke has moved away from Zoom and is back to promoting the bar thing. “But” he says, “I need a big enough space, because I like to work for an hour, and then I’m gone. And I do charge for that. I charge 100 bucks an hour.”

Never straying from character, he takes a moment to share a few of his favorite “stand-up” Santa jokes. Just promise to pretend you haven’t heard any of them before – and laugh – when you’re at The Blue See It’s Showtime for Santa! on Page 18


See It’s Showtime for Santa!, continued from Page 17

Sky Tavern in Newberry Township at noon on December 9th or 10th; or at Nick’s 114 in New Cumberland (dates TBD). Other venues and dates TBA.

“How much did Santa pay for his sleigh?” “Nothing. It was on the house!”

“What do you think you’ll see when you hear ‘oh-oh-oh?” “Santa walking backwards!”

“Why does Santa have three gardens?” “Because he likes to ‘ho-ho-ho’!”

And what does Burke’s mom think about his burgeoning side-career? “Oh, she loves it,” he exclaims. “I’ll call her up and I’ll say, “I hear there might be a Santa sighting at Nick’s tomorrow night.’ And then I walk in the door and there she is sitting.” 7

Editor’s note: Burke is available for Santa gigs on a first-come, first-serve basis, from now until Christmas Eve. To book a date, call 717-3192082; or email danielburke336@gmail.com. He is also available to help your high school, college, or professional theatre production with any Stage Combat or Stage Intimacy issues at www. safeviolence.com.

Here’s what’s happening at the West Shore Theatre: • Disney Strange World - Dec 1-4 (times vary)

• Susquehanna Folk Open Mic - Dec 4 at 7 PM

• Sankofa Presents Black Nativity - Dec 9, 7:30 PM; Dec 10, 7:30 PM; Dec 11, 3:00 PM

• Oxymorons Improv Comedy - Dec 11 at 7:00 PM

• Harrisburg Jazz Collective - Dec 13 at 7:00 PM

• Broadway’s Christy Altomare in Concert – Dec 17 at 7:30 PM

• Uptown Band Christmas Extravaganza – Dec 23 at 7:00 PM

• Harrisburg Jazz Collective – Dec 27 at 7:00 PM

Founded in 1940, Closed in 2018, Gloriously Reopened in 2022!

Another Round?

Pennsylvania ranks 2nd compared to all the states in both the number of breweries and number of beers produced. Which may make you wonder why Best Brewery wasn’t added to Simply the Best until 2017. Well, the number of breweries has increased greatly since we began. Back in 2011, PA only had 88 breweries. In 2017, the number had grown to 282. As of 2021, the number of breweries was 486, according to the Brewers Association. In 2021, Pennsylvania produced over 3.2 million barrels of craft beer according to the Brewers Association*. That’s 10.3 gallons for every 21+ adult in the state.

And while we did not add Best Brewery until recently, that didn’t stop Appalachian Brewing Company, with five locations, from winning Simply the Best Brew Pub in 1998, something they would do a total of nine times. In total, Appalachian Brewing has won 46 awards, including Simply the Best or Readers’ Choice for Best Beer List 12 times, Best Local Beer 12 times, and Best Pool Tables 7 times.

Another area favorite for beer is Market Cross Pub, 113 N. Hanover Street, Carlisle, which has been on our Simply the Best list 23 out of the past 25 years, first

winning in 1998. They have won Simply the Best or Readers’ Choice for various categories including Best Local Pub, Best Overall Bar, Best Affordable Place to Eat, and Best Beer List.

In 1999, Tröegs Brewing Company, 200 E. Hershey Park Drive, Hershey, first made it onto the Simply the Best list and has been on the list 18 years with such distinctions as Simply the Best Place for Beer, Simply the Best Local Beer, Readers’ Choice Best Local Brewery and Readers’ Choice Best Place to Eat with Kids.

Best Local Distillery wasn’t added until 2018 and Tattered Flag Brewery & Still Works, with five locations, immediately swept in and won it. And they continued to win Simply the Best Local Distillery every year since then for a total of 5 years. But they have also won Best Local Brewery, Best Overall Bar, Best Place for a Craft Beer, Best VeteranOwned Business, Best Affordable Place to Eat, and Best Burger. In just five years, they have won Simply the Best or Readers’ Choice 20 times.

*(Source: https://www.brewersassociation.org/statistics-and-data/statecraft-beer-stats/)


Good Morning


A good breakfast is essential if you don’t want to start your day on the wrong foot. Which is why we’ve had Best Breakfast as a category in Simply the Best for 23 of the past 25 years, including in the first Simply the Best when the title was won by Colonial Park Diner. Colonial Park Diner closed in 2016 and was reopened under new ownership as the Colonial Diner, 4301 Jonestown Road, Harrisburg.

In 1999, The Hershey Pantry, 801 E. Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, won Best Breakfast, which quickly became a trend since they have won the title 19 out of the 23 years, and won Readers’ Choice the other four times the category was offered. It’s easy to see that they are a favorite place for breakfast.

The Hershey Pantry has been challenged for the title by a relative newcomer, Valley Bistro, 4520 Valley Road, Enola. Valley Bistro opened in 2018 and first received Readers’ Choice Best Breakfast in 2019. In 2020, they tied for Simply the Best with Hershey Pantry. Although Hershey Pantry regained the title in 2021, Valley Bistro received Readers’ Choice and then followed it up by winning Simply the Best Breakfast in 2022. We’ll have to wait and see who wins it in 2023. Valley Bistro has also won Readers’ Choice for Best Sunday Brunch and Best American Restaurant.

The ultimate title holder for Best Brunch would have to be The Circular at Hotel Hershey, located at 100 Hotel Road, Hershey. Although the name has alternated between “Best Brunch” and “Best Sunday Brunch” the

winner has been nearly consistent. The Circular at The Hotel Hershey has won Simply the Best Brunch 24 times and Readers’ Choice once. The Circular has always been awarded either Simply the Best or Readers’ Choice for Best Wine List, Best Established Dining, Best Romantic Dining, Best Dessert, Best Restaurant to Take Visitors, along with other categories over the past 25 years.

But what is a good breakfast without a good cup of coffee? The coffee category has changed through the years. In 1998, Simply the Best had two coffee categories: Best Coffee Shop and Best Gourmet Coffee. Both categories were won by Cornerstone Coffeehouse, located at 2133 Market Street, Camp Hill. They won both categories again in 1999 and 2000. They continued to win Best Coffee Shop (which became Best Coffeehouse in 2003) every year it was offered: a total of 21 times. They also won Simply the Best Chai Latte and Readers’ Choice Best Cappuccino in 2005. Although there were no coffee categories in 2019 or 2020, they still managed to win Simply the Best Local Store and Place to Work (11-50 Employees) plus Readers’ Choice Best Breakfast in 2020. And in 2021, they returned to winning for Best Coffee when we added that category back to the list.


Are you a burger person or a steak person? Well, Simply the Best has been more about burgers over the years, given that Best Burgers has been a category all 25 years, while Best Steak wasn’t added until 2003. And the Glass Lounge , 4745 N. Front Street, Harrisburg,

has the distinction of winning both categories over the years, along with numerous others including Best American Restaurant, Best Affordable Place to Eat, Best Overall Dining (East Shore/Suburban), and Best Dining Bargain.

The Glass Lounge has made it on the list 25 years in a row and has won either Simply the Best

or Readers’ Choice a total of 57 times. But they didn’t win Best Burger in 2022, as the victor was Red Rabbit Drive-In, 60 Benvenue Road, Duncannon. Red Rabbit also placed third in the first Simply the Best in 1998 (behind Glass Lounge’s first place win). Readers’ Choice went to Lucky Penny Burger Company, who has been winning Simply the Best or Readers’ Choice for Best Burger and Best Food Truck since 2019.

In 2005, “Best Steaks” was changed to “Best Steakhouse.” Then in 2012, the category was split into chain & local versions. This practice ended in 2018 when we moved to an online voting platform that connects with Google Business and allows each location to compete individually. But despite the change, Texas Roadhouse, both the one


in Harrisburg at 3925 Union Deposit Road, and the one in Camp Hill at 1101 Lower Allen Drive, has managed to remain a consistent winner of Best Steakhouse. They have won either Simply the Best or Readers’ Best Steak or Steakhouse 16 times.

Another winner of Best Steakhouse over the years is Devon Seafood + Steak, located at 27 W. Chocolate Avenue, Hershey. But Devon doesn’t like to win just one award. They like to win several. Devon first appeared on the list in 2010 when they won Simply the Best Seafood and Readers’ Choice for Best Power Dinner, Best Service, and Best Wine List. Since then, they have won an additional 34 awards, including Best Overall Dining (East Shore/Suburbs).

The past doesn’t really last. Tomorrow could bring more sorrow, and the dead can’t look ahead. The present is heaven sent, a gift that can uplift or drift. And slips thru your hands like sand.

I’m at that age when everything is dangerous…steps, showers. sponge cake. You name it and it could kill me.

The slowest thing in the world is a treadmill timer.


Nothing’s Sweeter


The Best Bakery category has been a part of Simply the Best every year since it began in 1998, when it was won by The Pennsylvania Bakery. The Pennsylvania Bakery has won Simply the Best Bakery a staggering 16 times. They have also won the titles of Best Bread Bakery, Best Specialty Cakes, Best Wedding Cakes, Best Cake & Cupcakes, Best Desserts, and Best Sweets & Treats. And anyone who’s either visited their store at 1713 Market Street in Camp Hill or attended the Simply the Best Gala and tasted their many baked goods knows exactly why they have won.

In the early years, one of the chief competitors for the title was The Dingeldein Bakery. Dingeldein was in New Cumberland for 18 years, but sadly closed in 2012. And as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens. Desserts

Etc., located at 840 E. Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, a chief competitor for Best Desserts, opened in 2012. They won Readers’ Choice Best Bakery for the first time in 2016 and have made the list every year since. Their titles include Readers’ Choice Best Desserts and Readers’ Choice Best Cake & Cupcakes. They have also won Simply the Best twice for Best Sweets and Treats and Best Desserts – East. Several other notable winners include Ann’s Cupcakery, located at 43 W. Main Street, Mechanicsburg, and Talking Breads, 1619 W. Lisburn Road, Mechanicsburg.

Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’


Simply the Best had no automobile categories until 2001 when Best Place to get Your Car Service was added. The winners included Cumberland Valley Motors in New Kingston, Keiser’s Service Center, various locations, and Bobby Rahal Lexus in Mechanicsburg. In a show of how diverse the car service industry is in our area, the following year three different winners were named: Brandon Smith, C&J Car Care, and LB Smith in Lemoyne.

Two years later, Best Car Dealership was added. It might seem shocking that one of Bobby Rahal’s dealerships didn’t win the category when it was added. The Simply the Best Car Dealership award went to Sutliff Chevrolet Bobby Rahal’s Automotive (as Bobby Rahal’s Autohaus) received Reader’s Choice. The following year, in 2004, Bobby Rahal received Simply the Best Car Dealership and for the next 18 years a Bobby Rahal Dealer, in various locations, was awarded Simply the Best Auto Dealership. However, our auto dealership categories have expanded over the years. First, in 2009, when best Used Car Dealer was added, and then in 2018 when Auto Dealership was split into Best Foreign and Best Domestic categories.

Bobby Rahal Automotive has also been awarded Simply the Best Auto Service Department ten times, Simply the Best Auto Detailer nine times, along with other awards including Best Body/

Repair by Auto Dealers, Best Mechanic, and Best Car Wash.

And while Bobby Rahal has been the clear leader for Best Import Dealer, Best Domestic Dealer has been a battleground since it was introduced in 2017.

L.B. Smith Ford , 1100 Market Street, Lemoyne, had won the category four years in a row, with Lawrence Chevrolet , 6445 Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg, receiving Readers’ Choice. Then, this year Lawrence Chevrolet snuck in and took the title. It will be interesting to see who will win the category next year.

Car Service categories have also changed over the years. In 2005, it changed to Best Auto Body Shop with Dellinger’s Auto Body, 2410 S. Market Street, Mechanicsburg winning - something they would do a total of 15 times! Plus, Dellinger’s won Reader’s Choice honors twice.


Shop Til You Drop


Throughout the past 25 years, Simply the Best has offered a variety of specialty store categories. A few examples include Teen Necessities (2005-2009), CD Shop (2005), Music Supply Shop (2005-2017), Bike Shop (2005-2017), Tobacco/Cigar Shop (20022017), and Intimate Apparel (2008-2015). One issue we have is that competition within these categories has reduced over the years, so sometimes a category doesn’t have enough competition to warrant inclusion.

For example, the five 1998 winners of Best Bookstore have all closed: Encore Books & Music, Media Play, Borders, B. Dalton, and Waldenbooks. But three of the best bookstores in our area remain

open: Midtown Scholar Bookstore, 1302 N. Third Street, Harrisburg, an 18time winner; Whistlestop Bookshop, 129 W. High Street, Carlisle, a 10-time winner; and Cupboard Maker Books, 157 N. Enola Road, Enola, a 6-time winner.

Another specialty category we haven’t included recently is

Best Bicycle Shop. Holmes’ Cycling and Fitness, 2139 Market Street, Camp Hill, won Simply the Best Bicycle Shop eleven times and Readers’ Choice four times when we had the category from 2003 until 2018. They recently won Simply the Best Specialty Store in 2022, a category especially for stores that don’t have their own category. One category that has never lacked competition is Best Jewelry Store. Sadly, the first winner, Joseph A. Rosi, closed its doors back in 2008. However, the store that has won the category the most is still open. Mountz Jewelers, with three locations in the Harrisburg area, has the distinction of winning Simply the Best Jewelry Store 20 times, and Readers’ Choice five times. They are one of the few stores to earn the distinction of being on our Simply the Best list 25 years in a row.

Bringin’ The Wings


The first Simply the Best competition only had three nightlife categories: Best Sports Bar, Best Happy Hour Bar and Best Dance Club. Wanda’s Deck and Beach Club had the honor of winning both Best Happy Hour Bar and Best Dance Club. Wanda’s not only closed but the hotel that once housed it was recently demolished.

Of the three categories, only Best Sports Bar has stayed on our list of categories unchanged for the past 25 years. The first-year qualifiers were KoKoMo’s J.T. Croc ‘n Berrys , Southern Italian Ristorante , and Gingerbread Man . Sadly, none of those businesses are open today. But Gilligan’s Bar & Grill , with three Harrisburg locations, winner of 2022 Simply the Best Sports Bar, is. Gilligan’s first won Readers’ Choice Best Sports Bar in 2003. They have won 16 awards over the years including Best Pool Tables and Best American Restaurant.

But you can’t talk about Best Sports Bar without talking about Wings, since many places have won both. From 2005 until 2008, KoKoMo’s won both Simply the Best Sports Bar and Simply the Best Wings. In 2009, Arooga’s, with three Harrisburg locations, took over


winning both categories and won both for the next eight years. Arooga’s has also won Simply the Best or Reader’s Choice for Best Kids’ Menu, Best Appetizers, Best Happy Hour, and Best Burger.

Since 2018, there has been a battle for the title of Best Wings, although Ted’s Bar & Grill, 7300 Allentown Blvd, Harrisburg, seems to be the front runner, as they have won it three times and have received Readers’ Choice for Best Wings 8 times. They have also received Simply the Best or Readers’ Choice for Best Sports Bar, Best Overall Bar (East Shore) and Best Takeout.


What’s for Dinner?


“Grocery Store” was one of the original categories for Simply the Best. The category name changed in 2005 to “Supermarket.” The exact reason for the change has been lost, especially since the winner of the category for the first 19 years (1998 to 2017) was Giant Foods. Then in 2018, Wegman’s stepped in and toppled the giant. They have continued to win the category for the past five years. Wegman’s has also won both Readers’ Choice and Simply the Best for several other categories, including Best Bread Bakery, Best Fresh Seafood, Best Bakery, Best Pharmacy and Best Organic Foods. They have won 34 times since 2008.

And we simply cannot talk about Best Grocery Store/Supermarket without talking about Karns Food Stores, with ten locations in Central PA. Karns may have not won Simply the Best Supermarket yet, but they received 2nd place in the first Simply the Best, and Readers’ Choice in the last one - not to mention the additional 14 times. Few family and locally owned stores are able to compete against larger chains so successfully, for so long.

What’s Old is New Again


When you think of antiques, Old Sled Works located at 722 N. Market Street, Duncannon, likely comes to mind. They have been on the Simply the Best list 20 times, including their first-time win in 1998 and the most recent in 2022. In total, Old Sled Works has won Simply the Best Antiques eight times and Readers’ Choice twelve times. Sadly, Old Sled Works announced that they will be closing their doors at the end of 2022. They will be missed.

Another favorite of our readers is Bedford Street Antiques, located at 44 N. Bedford Street, Carlisle. They first won Readers’ Choice in 2004, just a year after opening. They have won Simply the Best Antiques eight times and Readers’

Choice Best Antiques five times. Antique Marketplace of Lemoyne, 415 Bosler Avenue, Lemoyne, who recently won Readers’ Choice Best Antiques, has won Simply the Best six times and Reader’s Choice five times.

If you’ve ever considered getting rid of something old, then you’ve likely browsed through the Best Consignment categories. Best Consignment Store was first added in 2005, when it was won by Wears Like New, located at 1207 Market Street, Lemoyne, but that wasn’t the first time they had been on the Simply the Best list. They placed in 2000, 2001, and 2002 in the Vintage Duds category (which only appeared in those three years). They have won 21 awards for either Simply the Best or Reader’s Choice, including their most recent in 2021 for Best Clothing Store – Vintage/ Consignment.

Since we are talking about clothing, then we need to mention Maggie Adams, 3605 Gettysburg Road, Camp Hill. Maggie Adams won Simply the Best Clothing Store – New in 2022. They first won Simply the Best in 1999 and have won Simply the Best or Reader’s Choice 28 times over the past 25 years.



Auto Body Shop

Auto Dealer (New Domestic)

Auto Dealer (New Import)

Auto Dealer (Preowned/Used)

Auto Detailer

Auto Repair Shop

Auto Salesperson (Ind.) Body/Repair by Auto Dealers


Aesthetic Physician Office

Barber Shop

Beauty/Hair Salon Dance Studio Dermatologist Office Facials

Fitness Center/Gym Hair Stylist/Barber (Ind.) Laser/Skin Care Massage

Place That Helps You Lose Weight Plastic Surgeon (Ind.) Plastic Surgery Clinic


Dry Cleaners

Insurance Agency

Place to Work (101+ Employees)

Place to Work (11-50 Employees) Place to Work (51 to 100 Employees)

Place To Work (Under 10 Employees)

Promotional Services (Merchandise, Signs, Marketing, Etc.)

Real Estate Agency Real Estate Agent (Ind.)

Real Estate Services (Inspections, Appraisals, Management, Etc.)

Real Estate Team

Specialty Service (W/O A Category) Staffing Agency/Services


Cosmetic Dentist

Dental Assistant (Ind.)

Dental Hygienist (Ind.) Dentist (Ind.)

General Dentist

Oral & Maxillofacial Clinic

Orthodontist Clinic

Specialty Dentist


Affordable Place to Eat Breakfast

Burger Desserts

Local Brewery


Overall Bar

Overall Dining (Downtown) Overall Dining (East Shore / Suburban)

Pizza Place

Place For a Night Out Restaurant Service Steakhouse Sunday Brunch Takeout Wings


Affordable Place to Eat Breakfast Burger Desserts Local Brewery Overall Bar Overall Dining (West Shore) Pizza Place

Place For a Night Out Restaurant Service Steakhouse Sunday Brunch Takeout Wings

FINANCIAL Accounting Firm Bank

Credit Union

Financial Planning Company (1 Location) Financial Planning Company (2+ Locations) Investment Company (1 Location) Investment Company (2+ Locations) Mortgage Company Stockbroker (Ind.)

Stockbroking Company Tax Preparation


Asian Bakery Barbecue Chef (Ind.) Coffee Deli Diner European Food Trucks Ice Cream Latin American Local Distillery

Local Pub Place For a Craft Beer Sports Bar Sweets & Treats (Candy, Chocolates, Etc.)

Round Begins January 1,





Animal Rescue or Charity

Child/Day Care Center College/University

Community Services

Local Television Personality (Ind.) Nonprofit

Pet Adoption Agency

Pet Groomer

Pet Supply Store Place to Take Your Pet Radio Personality (Ind.) Radio Station

Senior Living (Retirement, Assisted Living, Long Term, Etc.) TV Station Veterinarian/Animal Hospital



Alternative Medical Specialist Clinic

Chiropractic Clinic

Counseling or Therapy Office

General or Family Physician Clinic Hospital

In-Home Health Care

Medical Specialist Clinic (W/O A Category)

Obstetrics & Gynecology Clinic

Ophthalmologist or Optometrist Clinic

Pain Specialist Clinic

Pediatric Clinic

Physical Therapist Podiatry

Psychologist or Psychiatrist Office Walk-In Urgent Care Facility


Architect Building Supplies Contractor/Remodeler

Countertops & Cabinetry

Decks & Porches

Door & Window Company

Flooring Sales & Installation

Gutter Company

Home Builder / Developer

Home Improvement Specialist (W/O A Category)

Interior Design/Window Treatments

Roofing Company



Cleaning Service


Heating & Air Conditioning Company

Home Accents Company

Home Repair/Handyman

Kitchen &/or Bath Remodeling Company

Landscaping &/or Lawn Service

Lawn Care Specialist


Pest Control Plumber

Pool/Spa Service

Renovations & Restoration Services


Security Company Tree Service & Stump Removal


Business Law Attorney (Ind.)

Criminal Defense Attorney (Ind.) Divorce Attorney (Ind.) Employment Attorney (Ind.) Estate Planning Attorney (Ind.) Family Law Attorney (Ind.) Law Firm

Personal Injury Attorney (Ind.) Workman’s Compensation Attorney (Ind.)


Customer Values

Family-Owned Business

Minority-Owned Business New Business (Opened After 1/1/2021) One-Man Operation (No Employees) Veteran-Owned Business Woman-Owned Business


Art Gallery

Community/Charity Event Entertainment Center (Jump, Go-Carts, Etc.) Golf Course

Historical Site Library

Local Sports Team (Professional, College, High School, Etc.) Museum

Must See Place in Harrisburg Park

Place For Kids to Have Fun Place To Spend a Day Off Place To Take a Date Place To Take a Tourist Place To Volunteer Travel Agency



Clothing Boutique - New Clothing Boutique - Vintage/Consignment Farmers Market


Jewelry Store

Local Store (W/O A Category) Nursery/Garden Center Place To Shop for The Home Specialty or Hobby Store Supermarket

Thrift or Consignment Stores


Birthday Party Services

Bridal Shop/Formal Store Caterer

DJ/Event Entertainment Event Coordinator Event Venue Florist & Event Decor Hotel Party Rentals Photographer

Wedding Cakes Wedding Planner


Note: Complementary therapy refers to something that can be used alongside medical treatment, while alternative therapy is generally something used instead of medical treatment.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Reiki but don’t quite know what it is. Or maybe you are considering Reiki but aren’t sure whether it’s right for you. Longtime Reiki practitioner and teacher, Rickie Freedman, owner of Reiki by Rickie has taken time to enlighten readers with her insights and answers to questions posed to her regarding Reiki’s history and its use.

CH: Can you tell me a bit about the history of Reiki?

Freedman: As you know, the idea of hands-on healing has existed through time. Reiki, as it is practiced today, received that name very early on. Reiki is written as a kanji (Chinese characters) meaning

Reiki: A Complementary Therapeutic Practice

spiritual energy. I use the Reiki method prescribed by Mikao Usui. Usui went on a journey up the side of a mountain, fasted and meditated for three weeks, awaiting enlightenment. When he came down from the mountain, he understood this energy and how we could utilize the energy and light that is in all of us. Children are especially open to this as they have not built up the barriers within themselves that adults often have due to disregarding anything they do not understand.

CH: How long ago did you become involved with Reiki and what led you to that path?

Freedman: I am a physical therapist by background and so the idea of hands-on treatment with clients/patients has always been part of who I am. In 1994, friends of mine had signed up to take a Reiki class in Lewisburg, where I was living and working at the time. I agreed to babysit their son. I had no idea what Reiki was. When they came home,


they asked if they could practice on me. At the time I was going through a very difficult personal and emotional time. The Reiki had a very dramatic and profound effect. I could feel my body detoxing and I began to feel more grounded and much calmer. I decided to take my first Reiki class for my own personal and emotional healing. Then, very slowly and gradually, I began down this path. I did not rush it and it took me five years to go from Reiki I to Reiki Master Practitioner/Teacher.

CH: Tell me a bit about your Reiki practice through the years.

Freedman: I initially started practicing Reiki in a room located in my home in Lewisburg. I only shared Reiki with friends and family and didn’t charge them. I had a love donation outside the room that someone could put money in if they wanted to. Then one of the physical therapy nurses who I worked with opened a small space in Lewisburg called Lavender Heart and I came in and shared Reiki on a part-time basis. My business partner decided to move on, and I began to spend more time in my Reiki practice and eventually it became Lavender Heart Reiki Center. By this point I was doing full time Reiki in this space. When I first moved to Harrisburg in 2008 and initially shared Reiki in someone else’s space, I was surprised to learn that Reiki was not at all well known in this area, so I had a lot to do to open those doors by getting people on the table to have a Reiki experience. In 2013, I created Reiki by Rickie/Reiki Space and Learning Place in the space where we are now sitting. I do not operate this place in the traditional sense of a business operation. There is no focus on money, competition, or fear; rather it is focused on love, service, and Reiki. We have just opened a new area which I call EnLIGHT10. Many different services are offered through a community of collaborating practitioners who offer various services for clients one day per month.

In addition, I am starting my second book entitled Radiating our Reiki Light, which will be published next year. My first book, Reiki Rickie Shares ReikiKids, was published a year ago.

CH: Can you explain the different levels of Reiki and what the levels mean?

Freedman: Level I is primarily for your own self-healing because we must always start with ourselves. In Reiki I we learn about our energy, which is part of science but in our western culture we do not often think of or are taught about our energetic bodies. In this class it is important that I make this energy real so that students feel and know it as part of their physical body. I show how this energy can be used for stress reduction, pain relief, and more restful sleep. By the end of the class, students begin to learn how this energy can be passed to others; but Reiki I is mostly about understanding and using this energy for your own self-healing.

Level II empowers students to use this healing energy to share with others – and not only share with others who are physically present but also with others who are not present at that moment. Think about this as like sharing a prayer for the good of others who are not present. Students begin to get a much deeper sense of what Reiki energy truly is.

The Master Level is when you go from sharing Reiki to living and being Reiki – always being conscious of the energy of all our words, thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and well-being – not only what they do to us but how they affect those around us as our energies always go out into the world around us. It is a big jump into this level to always be very conscious of these things. We must be in a place of integrity in order to be a healing presence for ourselves and others.

CH: And then beyond this, is there another level for you to become a teacher?

Freedman: I do share the Reiki Master Practitioner Level separate from the Reiki Teacher Level as many students do not know if they would want to become teachers as well as practitioners. I did not know

that for myself at the time, which now feels laughable to me, as this is really what my life is all about.

CH: When you talk about the Master Practitioner Level and sharing Reiki with others, are you suggesting that you should not share Reiki with others until you get to that level?

Freedman: People can absolutely be ready to share Reiki with others before they reach the Master Practitioner Level, because they are learning about energetic flow throughout Level I and Level II. I do suggest to students that they only use and practice Reiki on themselves for the first three weeks after their first class to fill themselves up, because the idea of Reiki is to fill ourselves with energy so that this energy can flow through us, not just from us. We need to do our daily work; I call this our Reikirobics - to stay a pure vessel for this energy to be part of us and pass through us to others. Reiki is not only energy to be used for ourselves and others but also for our pets. I do suggest that students wait until at least the end of Level II to provide services to others.

CH: Is there a waiting time for taking the teacher level of Reiki after you become a master practitioner?

Freedman: No, as this is all part of the same energetic alignment. However, for students that take Reiki classes with me, I have prerequisites at that level for them to show me and others how they have progressed: what is it that others expect if they see that a person has a certificate that says Reiki Master/Teacher; what information would they expect that person to be able to share? Reiki is not what I do, it is who I am. I am Reiki energy all the time, whether I am here at work, out shopping, at home, or being with friends, because if I am out riding in my car that has the Reiki by Rickie magnets on it and I look like a stressed-out mess I will not be in alignment with my energy and people will certainly not be attracted to that. We must practice radiating See Reiki on Page 32


Reiki, continued from Page 31

this light, this energy for others, to be attracted to this.

CH: Earlier you mentioned that you took five years to become fully trained before you became a teacher. Do you suggest a particular length of time for students to wait as they work their way through the various levels?

Freedman: There are different thoughts on this out there if you research this. I am a purist in my thoughts on this and I believe in the way Reiki has been passed down along the lineage of the Reiki masters. I believe that students should not study Reiki II until at least 3 weeks after having taking Level I and spent that time, every day, on self-Reiki healing. Between Reiki II and the Master Level I would recommend waiting six to nine months. Some people feel ready a bit sooner and I do acknowledge their process, but I do not believe in what I call “fast food Reiki.” Some schools offer classes for all three levels that are held within one weekend, but I do not hold with that theory as I believe every level of Reiki takes time to work through your body and energy field and this cannot be done in a single weekend. It is necessary to integrate all levels of these teachings before moving on to the next level. In fact, you can go through all the levels of classes and just use it for yourself and your own energetic mastery; it is not necessary for you to take Reiki with the only thought being that you will become a teacher or practitioner. Even if you never lay hands on another person, you will radiate energy that attracts others to you in a positive way. In the classes we learn how to become that personal energy and be able to pass it on without ever becoming drained or take on anyone else’s negative energy. It is very important to learn how to be heart-centered in this practice.

CH: Does this mean that, as you are sharing Reiki energy with others, you are also receiving Reiki energy back?

Freedman: Yes, exactly, the giver is also the receiver and vice versa. The essence of Reiki is that it is a balancing process, so in that respect I usually don’t say that I’m “giving” Reiki; I am simply allowing myself to be a portal for the energy. During a Reiki session, I believe that the client is releasing any energy that they need to relieve themselves of and filling themselves with whatever energy they need. I believe further that Reiki energy flows through me to the client; they take what they need and release what they no longer need/want, and that energy is dissipated or transformed. I take none of that energy on.

CH: Does that mean that some practitioners could take on that energy that is being released?

Freedman: Yes, and that is why it is so important that practitioners do their daily self-Reiki and grounding to keep themselves solid and stable in the purest light.

CH: I heard that there are various hand movements or symbols that are taught and, if you don’t use them correctly, you will not pass on Reiki energy correctly.

Freedman: You do learn some symbols, but what it is, is a focus tool to assist in your focus on intent. It isn’t the symbols but rather it is the intent in your heart. I utilize the symbols to assist me in keeping focused, but I do realize that it isn’t about the symbols; it is about the intent in using the energy. It is not in our thinking mind; it is in our hearts. It is all about balancing ourselves in every way, spiritually, mentally, emotionally. It is important to remember that there is a difference between

healing and curing. Reiki is a method of self-healing our emotional and spiritual selves even if our body is diseased; it provides a peaceful, loving comfort.

CH: I understand that there are other schools of Reiki beside the Usui method. Can you speak to that?

Freedman: Usui Reiki is considered the original and purest school. There are other schools with different methods and teachings, and I have no problem with that, but I do have a problem when someone says, “This is the next level, this is bigger.” My answer to that is a quote that came through me one day: “The source is the source, of course, of course.” We are all tapping into the same source which already is the highest frequency. In my world view, the source does not change, but as we tap into the source and do our own work we change and allow ourselves to grow.

CH: How do you see Reiki being used in a day-to-day setting?

Freedman: As I mentioned earlier, I am a physical therapist and I have worked with other physical therapists and massage therapists and have trained them to incorporate Reiki into their regular therapeutic treatments.

Can you imagine how much better the world would be if children would learn this practice of being compassionate and kind to others, using their energy in positive ways and growing up within this self and other loving community, knowing we are all connected, living in integrity? This is my world vision for Reiki.

CH: What would you suggest for someone who wants to try Reiki but is not sure?

Freedman: I would suggest a mini session and I would begin by explaining what Reiki is by answering any questions asked. Then I would share a short session to assist them in feeling and accepting the movement of energy.

CH: What can I expect to happen during a Reiki session?

Freedman: The client lays fully clothed on a massage table. A blanket is provided for additional warmth, if necessary, as well as an eye mask, and pillows for extra comfort. The practitioner’s hands are either slightly above or resting gently on various parts of the client’s body. The client may feel warmth, tingling, vibration, or coolness, and a deep sense of well-being, peace, and safety. Some clients feel energy moving in various parts of their body. The experience may be different for each individual client, as well as for each subsequent session, as Reiki meets you where you are on every level.

CH: Is there anything you would like to add that hasn’t been brought up during our conversation?

Freedman: Yes, and I would especially like to address women who may be reading this article. Self-care is not the same thing as being selfish. We need to take the time to allow ourselves the freedom of self-care. It is so important that each of us take the time for nourishing ourselves so that we can be at our best for nourishing those around us, our partners, our children, our friends. We must allow ourselves to be filled up in order to give. We then can allow this energy to flow through us rather than from us so that we don’t become drained, burnt-out, or resentful. This is the perfect way for us to be in the world. 7

You can learn more about Reiki and Rickie Freedman through her Facebook page, Reiki by Rickie, or her website, reikibyrickie.com.


Hershey’s Chocolate World

Once again, the magic of the season will inhabit 101 Chocolate World Way, when Hershey’s Chocolate World serves up plenty of fun family activities during December, including Breakfast with Santa, Decorate with Mrs. Claus, the Holly Jolly Trolley, plus Photos With Santa and the Grinch. See all the events at www.chocolateworld.com

Food & Fun

Eat Local This Holiday Season!
Photo Credit: Photographer Will Masters was onhand when Santa and the Grinch helped to unveil Chocolate World’s seasonally-wrapped Kissmobile.

Toast of Harrisburg Yellow Bird Café

– Eat, Read, and Relax

On the corner of Third and Sayford Streets in Midtown Harrisburg sits a bright yellow building housing Yellow Bird Café, a must-try place for breakfast and lunch. Now entering its tenth year in business, this homey setting just begs for you to stop in, eat a delicious meal, chat with the always cheerful waitstaff, check out the art, and maybe even peruse a book from the tiny lending library against a side wall.

Stephanie and Ammon Perry, owners, are leading the business life that they love. Although their backgrounds are in graphic design, marketing, and the arts, their first loves are cooking, baking, and sharing food with friends. “We love having people over to our home, hanging out, sharing meals and good conversation, so the decision was made to turn that love into our business.” Stephanie then adds, “We decided that we wanted our café to feel homey and inviting, a place where people could eat, relax, and talk.” Even the name of the café was chosen (on a road trip to Maine) for its feeling of warmth and happiness.

Stephanie and Ammon both say that their business venture was created with the love, support, and assistance of family, friends, and a lot of hard work.

Breakfast at Yellow Bird can be as easy as one of Stephanie’s homemade muffins – think

Toast of Harrisburg

“sunshine muffin,” a top seller, or how about a ginger cookie which is just about the size of a plate. For a more complete breakfast, try a side of fresh fruit and a breakfast sandwich made with one of Ammon’s homemade English muffins. There is freshly baked oatmeal smothered in fresh fruit for those who are counting calories or looking for that healthy bite.

There is always an exhibit of local artists’ works which are for sale. Yellow Bird takes no commission on these sales and all proceeds go directly to the artist. The art exhibit changes monthly, usually in sync with Harrisburg’s monthly 3RD in the BURG.

A small lending library with an interesting array of books is arranged in one corner along with a shelf of games for youngsters or the young at heart. On another wall there is a chalk board and tiny chairs to keep children occupied creating their own art wall. Sit in the sunny front window on the comfy sofa, enjoy coffee and a cranberry scone or muffin, pull out your laptop or iPhone and get to work, strike up a conversation with someone sitting at the next table, or just sit back and relax. Ammon’s homemade breads by the loaf are always available if you call in an order a day in advance. Soups are Stephanie’s favorite thing to make and the choice changes almost daily. It could easily take a month for you to try each and every soup she has created. And no one will think you are odd if you ask for one of these delicious creations for your breakfast.

Catering is available and Yellow Bird can provide this service for up to 100 people., although Ammon says that larger groups can be accommodated if requested. Emailing yellowbirdcafe.hbg@gmail.com will get you in touch with Stephanie for your catering needs. With Christmas just around the corner,

think about Yellow Bird gift certificates, bags filled with homemade goodies, and official Yellow Bird mugs.

Breakfast, lunch, catering, books, art, and the friendly feeling of home – Yellow Bird has you covered!

Yellow Bird Café is located at 1320 N Third Street and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 7 am – 3 pm and Sunday 10 am – 2 pm. Check out their website: https://yellowbird. arqbox.com . Find them on Facebook: Yellow Bird Cafe Harrisburg PA ; or Instagram: @ yellowbirdcafe.hbg 7


Center Street Grille –Chef Matthew Mager The Only Wing Man You Need

This year’s first place winner of Buffalo’s National Hot Wing Contest, Chef Matt Mager, took that title for his Cotton Candy Nightmare Wings. Made with cotton candy blue raspberry sugar, the secret to their wicked heat is ghost powder, habanero powder, chili powder, and if that doesn’t have you gasping for breath, he throws in some scorpion powder which is said to have the power to finish off your enemies.

Mager displays a wall full of plaques and a shelf full of trophies for his various wing wins at his Center Street Grille home away from home. The plaques come from the Hampden Township contest named Wing Madness and developed as a means of raising money for the Hampden Township Veterans Park. Trophies are for various wins in the yearly Buffalo National Wing Festival and Contest. The largest trophy in the entryway is a local trophy that is defended every year, but as Mager says, “We’ve won it so often we tend to think of it as ‘our trophy’.”

At any given time, there may be as many as thirty different wings available on the menu, ranging from mild all the way through various degrees of heat, and finishing off with something different, such as kimchi wings, or peanut butter and jelly wings. And, as with all good wings, there is a choice of flavors in both barbeque sauces and dry rubs, which are also called dusts. “The most popular wing is our traditional hot, but there are quite a few top choices including the garlic and parm sauce which I make using duck fat,” he adds. Wednesday night is Wing Flight Night. Mager picks six flavors, and each flight has twelve wings –two of each flavor.

The most exotic wing flavor Mager has developed has a story behind it. “During March Madness we had a wing sauce contest. Patrons filled out a bracket with sauce flavors and then customers went to Facebook to vote for the flavors moving into the next round, and the list narrowed as brackets moved forward. The final winning flavor was the one that our regular patron Jeff Stoner had chosen for the running. We decided to create a wing flavor for him, and it became a play on his last name (Stoner). I went to American Shaman and bought a little hemp and made a raspberry sauce with it. I then started working with a brewery who had a hemp beer, and they were willing to provide whole hemp flowers. The original recipe with the hemp was named Mr. Stoner’s Legendary Raspberry Cush, and this developed into Insane in the Membrane with blackberry/raspberry melba hot sauce with habanero powder and whole hemp flowers. A later rendition of this became Peach Peach Pass. There is now a new one called Strawberry Spicy Sour Patch which ends with a bit of citric acid to pucker you.”

Mager, who started as an architecture student at HACC, was cooking on the side to pay for school and decided to switch to culinary studies and worked on that for a year, while also holding down a full-time job. He realized he had the chops to make it in the kitchen and began

creating dishes in earnest at least twenty-seven years ago. He’s been chef at Center Street Grille for nearly twenty of those years.

Wings are only a small part of the menu at Center Street Grille and Mager oversees every delicious dish on the menu. “Every recipe in this restaurant is mine – all the menu developments, all the sauce recipes are things I’ve developed. I have a three-ring binder filled with recipes and a pile of cards and notes that I’ve played around with.” He adds, “There’s lots of prep that has to happen in the kitchen and, depending on the day and available staff, I may have three to five people in the kitchen.” There are three separate kitchen stations: grille, which Mager usually handles along with a helper; sauté station; and a fry station.

As an example of a meal choice, you could start with an appetizer of

Compliments to the Chef

Piri Piri Shrimp, and then move on to a Caesar Salad. As a main course you might be drawn to the Carnitas and Elote Mac or maybe Catfish Ponchatrain. Is there room for a side? If so, there are more than fifteen tasty dishes to add to your meal. Pasta, land, sea, fowl creations - the choices are as varied as your mood for food. For lunch or a lighter meal there is a full specialty sandwich menu to choose from. And for libations there is a list of mixed drinks, beers, and wines. 7

Center Street Grille, located at 4 Center Street, Enola is open Sunday – Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The kitchen closes one hour prior to closing. Center Street Grille also has the capacity for catering and has an upstairs room available for private parties. The website is centerstreetgrille. com; Facebook is Center Street Grille|Enola; and find them on Instagram @center_street_grille


It’s Your Move Celebrating Centuries of Tabletop Entertainment

ass Go and Collect $200,’ ‘Crown Me!,’ ‘You Sank My Battleship,’ ‘Six letters with a Double Word Score,’ and ‘Checkmate’ are popular phrases often used in casual conversation. Can you guess what they all have in common? If you are thinking they are famous lines of dialogue from films, Sorry. Here’s one Clue: Miss Scarlet in the library with a revolver. Would you like to Risk a guess? If your answer is famous board games, Bingo! In countless forms representing every imaginable topic, board games have provided one of the most prized pastimes for generations. Since the dawn of time, there has been an endless search for recreation and avenues of escape; a counterbalance to the toil of performing daily tasks both at home and at the workplace. This continuous desire for diversion has led many to conceive of different ways for people to play. Some of the earliest examples of recreational activity were acted out on a board where the object for participants was to successfully navigate game pieces across a defined path in the pursuit of an established goal. To accomplish this end required skill and a degree of luck.

Making its first appearance in Egypt around the year 2686 BC, Senet is a game that presented players with just such an objective and was an immediate sensation. Hounds and Jackals was another popular board based challenge played in the Land of the Pharaohs. The Royal Game of Ur was not only enjoyed immensely in Mesopotamia where it appeared around 3000 BC but was popular across the Middle East. At approximately the same time and place, players were engaged in a competition played on a ‘squared’ surface that would one day become known as Checkers Strategy is a key component of any competition, and this is no better exemplified than in a game first developed in the 7th Century AD in India. Played one on one,

Chaturanga involved strategic planning, an ability to anticipate your adversary’s reaction and execute the prepared response. With some alteration, this contest became known as Chess and the appeal of this ‘Game of Kings’ remains unchecked to this very day. These hand-crafted boards and playing pieces carved from exquisite wood and horn, sculpted from ivory and stone, were quite the rage with those mainly of the ruling class. Then as now, like any other newly arrived variety of home entertainment, access to state of the art amusement is initially reserved for the more affluent. However, with the passing of time, technology progressed and eventually built a level playing field on which people from all walks of life could now partake.

As new materials were developed, principally printed paper, plastic, metal, and cardboard, they would ultimately unite and, through mass production, bring these parlor games home to the masses. Prominent toy and game manufacturers such as Parker Brothers, Milton Bradley, Whitman Publishing, Selchow and Righter, Hasbro, and Ideal became de facto ‘fun factories.’ Games such as Monopoly, Parcheesi, Uncle Wiggily, Careers, Chinese Checkers, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit and The Game of Life, among countless others, became household names as they were now part of many homes’ entertainment - and they were an “out of the box” hit! They proved to be so popular at presenting such a wide spectrum of different themes that, when radio and later television entered the scene, some of the program storylines were also adapted and placed on a game board. Dragnet, Get Smart, You Bet Your Life, Beat The Clock, The $64,000 Question, Charlie’s Angels, The Dukes of Hazzard and Dark Shadows are just a handful of popular shows to appear in stores as a boxed board game wrapped in cellophane.

In a rather short span, board games of See It’s Your Move on Page 40

Steve Shank - Toys On The Square

Your Move, continued from Page 39

seemingly every variety entered the market and generally met with success. Soon, an assortment of board games stacked on a closet shelf became a common sight in many homes. In the years following the Second World War, their popularity exploded to even greater heights. Family, friends, and acquaintances would assemble around a table in the kitchen, den, or dining room and then the games would unfold. Situated on a flat surface, these printed boards with striking graphics provided the perfect centerpiece for people to share time, interact, and enjoy a contest. They continue to generate the same experience with each generation. Steve Shank, Salesman and Resident Toy Expert at the extensive game emporium Toys On The Square in Hummelstown describes, “The classics will never go away. Candy Land, Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders are the door openers to games. Like a classic record such as The Beatles ‘White Album,’ younger people will find them. Even with so many new toys, we still sell tons of Marbles and Pick-up Sticks.”

As the years passed, the number of game selections and varieties grew at an exponential rate, along with added features. Game designers always seek to build a better Mouse Trap that in some cases offer players the opportunity to play a slightly larger role. Brent Green and Miles Myers are Co-Owners of Let’s Play: Games And Hobbies in Hanover, PA, and their retail shop offers a vast cross section of games, both classic and current. Green explains the progression of games and player involvement: “People usually start off with mass market games like Monopoly or Sorry then move on to gateway games such as Catan or Ticket to Ride, which are level strategy games that get you thinking more, then you can decide what you like. If you’re into card games, maybe something like Marvel Champions. There are also miniatures such as Star Wars: Legion, where you purchase small model kits of figures and paint them. They’re characters you’re actually moving around on a game board. Then, on the other hand, you have role playing games like D&D (Dungeons and

It’s Let’s Play: Games And Hobbies

Dragons) where you actually play a character.”

Green continues, “We provide the space for five groups of D&D who come in and play. We also run two Children’s D&D groups as well. There’s something for everyone with board games. The enjoyment is subjective, but also depends on who you’re playing with.”

Board games not only bring people together for enjoyment but can do so repeatedly and on a fairly low budget. Steve Shanks shares, “You can spend $25 on a game and play it a thousand times and still have a blast. Escape Room, for instance, is perfect for a party with friends. There are so many great party games that you can play in 15-20 minutes like Hit or Miss - and it never misses. (Laughs) Board game subject matter can also be educational.”

Steve continues, “Math games are an example. Blokus is a great geometry game. Make it fun and you’re going to make the learning experience more effective because, as you play, you’re subconsciously retaining. Cooperative games are popular, like Mysterium and Pandemic, and they teach kids to share and work together toward a goal. Beat the game, not each other.” The board game learning experience can also be effective in improving physical dexterity. Little doubt that a round of Twister didn’t leave players feeling a bit more limber, and one can only imagine how many surgeons first began honing their eye/hand coordination skills removing a funny bone during Operation!

Let’s Play: Games And Hobbies and Toys on The Square are two ideal destinations that can deliver the right diversion, but secondary spots such as thrift shops and flea markets can also be great sources for that game you’ve been

See It’s Your Move on Page 42
Brent Green - Let’s Play: Games And Hobbies

Culinary Service Team Members Needed!

It’s Your Move, continued from Page 41

searching for. Retail outlets and secondhand sources like Community Aid, Salvation Army, and Goodwill provide a readily available cache of games at affordable prices. Sometimes, however, finding a particular game can be less of a challenge than finding someone to share a game session. If you’re on the hunt for a place to ‘Roll and Move’ with likeminded aficionados, look no further. There are several different settings throughout the region that offer a place for gamers to gather and get down to the serious business of play. The Simpson Library in Mechanicsburg is one such popular meeting place. Joelene Diana, Adult Programming Coordinator, describes the event: “I was approached about starting a group to play cards and board games, sort of like a ‘Board Game Café.’ Some board games were donated by people and the library invested in the purchase of other games. This group was founded in 2015 and we meet the final Tuesday of each month for our ’Tabletop Game Night.’” This game night quickly became an eagerly anticipated monthly feature for the attendees. Joelene explains, “After Covid, the game group was the first to bug me about getting together. So we discarded our masks and are playing together again. The group wants to meet more than once a month, but space is limited. We have to limit it to the one night and we can accommodate up to 24 people. We have a teen department here at Simpson and we also host a youth game session once a month.” Whether you’re solo or with a small group these game nights always offer a seat at one of the tables.

As these sessions progress, a communal synergy is created as players converse and enjoy snacks while they devise various strategies for these tournaments on tables. Joelene continues, “We seem to always have a table of people playing Rummikub and we’ve had rounds of trendy games like Catan, but people mostly like the classics.” In addition to spending time together on game night, members also share information on other

These respected restaurants are currently adding to their staffs …

places where they can convene and continue the games. It was learned during this meeting that the Elks Club in Mechanicsburg hosts a Scrabble session every Monday afternoon.

One thing is quite certain: with a board game and good company at home or a meeting house, whether it’s a roll of the dice or a spin of the wheel, a fun time is always in the cards. The next move is yours! 7

For additional information on these board game destinations please visit:

• Toys On The Square – 22 East Main Street, Hummelstown, PA 17036. 717-566-6301 www.toysonthesquare.com

• Let’s Play: Games And Hobbies – 42 Carlisle Street, Hanover, PA 17331. 717634-2107 www.letsplayhanover.com

• The Simpson Library – 16 North Walnut Street, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055. 717-766-0171 www.cumberlandcountylibraries.org › SIM

• Central PA Game Club –www.centralpagameclub.com

• UrTurn Café – 7710 Allentown Boulevard, Harrisburg, PA 17112. 717-525-8684 www.facebook.com › UrTurnCafe



Art is a Wound Turned Into Light*

*Title taken from a quote by Georges Braque, 20th Century French artist

Heart and Soul Books, located in Linglestown, became the perfect cozy and homey place for a conversation with three women artists who were prepared to bare their souls to talk about the healing power of art in their lives. All three have dealt with major traumatic and life changing crises and have moved forward by recognizing and moving through the dark moments with art as one of their recovery tools.

Ashley Nichole Walkowiak, Simply the Art winner in performing arts for her work in poetry performance and writing, is not only a survivor of rape but she is a victor. Her poetry and her workshops and writings on trauma have allowed her to move past the shadow and embrace her life by putting her trauma into words.

Reina76, (Harrisburg Magazine, December 2020, October 2022) Simply the Art winner in oil and acrylic painting, has not only moved beyond domestic violence but also alcoholism. Her artworks have provided the outlet for her interior anger to come to the surface and begin to be resolved.

Cheryl Dondero, Simply the Art winner in dance and dance instructor, has grappled with alcoholism and drug abuse since her teenage years and works constantly for her life of sobriety. Her dance has given expression to her courage to change the things that she can.

These three women look forward to sharing their story and their road to recovery and renewal in the conversation that ensues. The discussion was free flowing and often moved beyond a particular discussion or question to explore other thoughts as they arose, but it always came back to the core discussion of how

Artful Inspirations
Cheryl Dondero, Reina76, and Ashley Nichole Walkowiak

finding your center in the creative process can help heal a wound.

Christina: Let’s start easily and tell me a bit about yourselves.

Cheryl: I am certainly a dancer but I’m more in the category of a dance teacher or instructor and, in that world, you would have to call me Miss Cheryl (laughs). Dancing has always been part of my life – whether teaching or performing - ever since I was five. I’m retired from both state and county government, but I still work full-time for Gaudenzia, a large provider for drug and alcohol substance abuse programs. I also teach Yoga at CommUNITY Yoga Space, on Sunday mornings at 11:30 a.m. My class is Yoga of Twelve Step Recovery which starts as a support group meeting and then we “take it to the mat” and do yoga. Anyone is welcome because we are all recovering from something in our lives. All classes there are free or “pay what you can.” I am an instructor at Richie School of Dance in adult jazz, and I have taught LaBlast, which is a dance fitness technique created by Dancing with the Stars pro, Louis Van Amstel. It is sad that often kids take dance lessons until they are teenagers and then as they age, they think they can’t dance anymore – that isn’t true – it is in your DNA. I am now sixty-two and this is my life. My joy is to bring dance back into adults’ lives. I now have “grandstudents”, where I taught the grandmother, then the mother, and now the child. I’ve been teaching for forty-five years. One of the coolest things about teaching so long is that I have had the honor of taking some great classes from dance teachers who were my students when they were younger – Miss Angie and Miss Kelsey.

Ashley: Before I started writing I was a photographer, and began taking dark room film classes at the age of thirteen. I still dabble in photography but now mainly it is just for fun. My mom helped with an adult diploma program at the local high school, and I helped with sign-ins, so I was

offered a free adult education class. We were a family of very limited means, so this was a wonderful opportunity for me. I had an amazing teacher and I fell in love with film photography. It wasn’t until later in life that I turned to the written word and poetry as a means of expressing myself. I do some fine art modeling working mostly with photographers, as it is a faster medium than posing for a drawing or painting.

Reina76: I recently returned from a trip to Moldova where I was part of a program entitled Art in the Embassies. My work was chosen to be exhibited there as the Ambassador of Moldova is from Pennsylvania and he wanted to represent his state as well as our country. I had the opportunity to attend openings and speak with art students about being a contemporary artist in the U.S. I also have an art studio in The Millworks where I paint and exhibit my art. I’ve always loved art and consider myself to be an outsider or underground artist, as I am selftaught. My painting style tends to be abstract. Jean- Michel Basquiat is an artist I have gravitated to because of his style and his background. I like experimenting with that style to see if ultimately it is mine. In October, I was a guest and interviewed by Gina Johnson on What’s the Word? Harrisburg! (Episode 11), televised on WHBG20 and available on YouTube. In this segment I talk about my art and my vision for an art community here in the city.

Christina: Can we delve deeper into how your arts have helped you turn the corner from trauma into recovery?

Cheryl: Arts, crafts, and the glue gun were never my friend, so for years I thought I was not artsy. It took me a while to realize my dance is an art. I now realize that art is a much broader thing than just painting. I am in recovery from lots of things in my life but primarily drugs and alcohol. I was a teenager in the 70’s in the years when lots of things were going on. My friends seemed to be able to have fun, party, and then get on with life, but substance abuse was in my genes, and I couldn’t let go. I really struggled. I have choreographed my addiction in multiple rehabs. Drugs and alcohol hijack your brain. They tell your brain that the only way you can feel joy or pleasure and cover the pain is to fill your pleasure See Meet the Winners on Page 46

Reina76 artwork on display
Cheryl Dondero

Meet the Winners, continued from Page 45

receptors with the drugs and alcohol. When you are in recovery, you need to find the long-term things that are good to fill the void that is left. So, for me, I get my endorphins from dance. This is my replacement for drugs and alcohol. I will dance until I die … I will do yoga until I die.

Ashley: I used photography as a way of expressing myself and processing thoughts later in my teenage years, after I was stalked and raped at the age of seventeen. What I didn’t realize at the time was that, through photography, I was building tools for the resiliency I would later need. I was able to use photography to express my pain and hidden feelings without using words, digging into those cracks, and processing my emotions in a non-verbal and very safe way, as I never spoke about the rape for ten years. Someone close to me realized that there was something wrong with me and suggested that I see a trauma therapist who I worked with for my PTSD. It was after this time that I finally felt safe enough to start writing – it came in drips and dribbles. Fast forward to the time when I lost my sister a few years ago and a friend took me to the poetry group here in Harrisburg, and she said “write – just write.” I did and later sent it to her. The next time we went to the poetry reading she pushed me to the front of the room and urged me to read what I had sent her. It was almost another crippling experience; I was so rattled. I walked up to the microphone and this room full of strangers cheered me on – those teachers, welcomers, and believers, are saving lives here in our community – through art and other means. It was so beautiful. When I was able to turn my thoughts into words, name and label my traumas, I knew that I had turned the corner from victim to survivor. I

• YWCA - Dauphin County hot line and shelter for domestic violence (24/7) 1-800-654-1211

• YWCA - Dauphin County hotline for sexual assault victims (24/7) 1-800-654-1211

• YWCA - Dauphin County hotline for human trafficking (24 /7) 1-800-654-1211

• PCADV – Statewide and national referrals for issues of domestic violence www.pcadv.org

I am grateful for teachers, teachers like Cheryl, people who are influencers who allow you to walk in with zero experience and say, “pick up the paint brush, throw off your shoes and dance, or start writing.”

— Ashley Nichole Walkowiak

want to give this poetry group a plug. Years ago, they were the Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel meeting at the Midtown Scholar and now they are The Blacklisted Poets of Harrisburg and meet every Thursday night at HMAC here in the city. They are the most inclusive and encouraging group of writers I have ever encountered.

Reina76: Domestic violence was what turned me to art. I’ve always loved art and it is unfortunate that, although I loved it, I never turned to it until after my abuse. I am estranged from my family as they are confused as to why I still hold on to that pain. My parents grew up in a very impoverished and violent environment and it was so normal for their lives they couldn’t understand my distress. My artwork reflects the pain that I have, and family sees that, and they are uncomfortable. My art is meant to encourage people to heal through art and not fixate on perfection, sales, and a career. I am drawn to abstract as it leaves room for people to take away their own feelings and emotions – this can be done through color and brush strokes and careful placement of objects. There is a story beneath the layers of paint; there is a hurt child still within me. I was hiding this within me and being self-destructive. I realized this and boom – I became brave enough to show my works and my canvas became a mirror for me. It said, “put me on the wall, I will speak for you now.”

• PCAR - Statewide listing of services for victims of sexual abuse www.pcar.org

• National helpline for victims of domestic violence 1-800-799-7233

• Prevent Suicide PA- hotline (24/7) 1-888-596-4447

• Crisis Intervention Services – Dauphin County –individual and family services 1-888-596-4447

• Dauphin County Drug & Alcohol Services Monday

– Friday 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 1-717-635-2254

• Substance Abuse Hotline 211

• National Suicide Prevention/D&A Lifeline dial 988 or 1-800-799-4889

• Gaudenzia – hotline services (24/7), treatment options, inpatient treatment centers 1-833-976-4357

Ashley Nichole Walkowiak

Christina: Ashley, this question is for you: I understand you recently published a book.

Ashley: Yes, it is entitled Found. Still lost. It was published by Sunbury Press in February. This was my start into doing more trauma talks, workshops, and poetry readings. When I go to do a trauma talk, I use some of my poetry, tell my story, and build in some foundational trauma information such as how our body and brain adapt to the trauma and create survival coping mechanisms; how this becomes ingrained into our everyday lives; and then how we can use art to help overcome this. We can become a newer version of ourselves where we are hoping and planning for the future instead of living every second in the past.

Christina: Cheryl – movement – allowing our bodies to move freely and tell a story, Reina – painting the story, Ashley – writing poetry and telling the story. There are so many ways of allowing art to heal us as trauma exists in so many different guises.

Cheryl: Yes, I was thinking about this as I work for Gaudenzia, the largest non-profit treatment program in the state. We assist many who are in the most need due to financial restraints. And I’ve been through rehab multiple times myself. It is evidence based as to how important creativity is to recovery. There will be sessions during rehab or a recovery program in art/creativity, in journaling, in movement. These things are used as methods of expressing trauma and bringing it out into the light. And this is all based on science and the science of recovery.

Christina: Cheryl, I know you started dancing at age five, so this is directed to Reina and Ashley. I am curious as to whether either of you think that if you hadn’t had these traumas in your lives, would you now be drawn to and involved in the type of art you do now?

Reina76: Probably not, no, even though I love art and painted from the age of five. I really wanted to be part of the business world, I wanted to manage hotels, I went to business school. I never saw a future in art. But after my domestic violence situation, it forced my hand and I couldn’t function. I was a mess - alcoholism became part of my reality. The violence brought back so many things from my past and I couldn’t cope. I became a very angry and bitter person. I turned to art because it brought beauty back to my spirit. I was able to conclude that not everybody on the planet was out to get me, I can be loved – I deserve love. Ashley’s comment to me “it’s OK not to be OK” helped me so much. That saying should be on billboards! I have my good days and my bad days with my alcoholism. I believe that taking vivitrol has helped me tremendously. It has been a lifesaver for me. It has allowed me clarity and hope and I do believe that my artwork has improved because I let my demons out and told my story. Now, I can enjoy making and sharing my art and meeting new people, and my art has improved. I find that my skepticism is on the wane, and I don’t question myself so much, I can drop my many masks. I still feel that my recovery is day to day, but I’m feeling much better every day.

Ashley: Our society promotes this toxic positivity toward always having to be OK – like the sayings “just choose happiness,” “Smile more” – we can pick a million mantras, but those

mantras will only take us so far if we lack the chutzpa and the ability to acknowledge the darkness we all have. I think that art gives us that healthy way to express that and move forward out of the darkness. We must remember not to feed or cage our demons.

Cheryl: Another saying that is important in the field of recovery is that your secrets keep you sick. Art helps you release the secrets. I use the twelve-step program and find it very helpful as I write down so many things that can keep me stuck; perceived character defects, resentments, the things that I have done, I must get it out – I must tell someone. What is ironic about this is that the things I did wrong, that I think are so shame-filled, in recovery no one bats an eye or, more often, they say, “me, too.” But until one gets rid of the guilt and shame and resentments it will eat you alive and take you back to whatever dark place you were trying to escape from.

Christina: Ashley, coming back to the question – would you be involved with your art had you not experienced your trauma?

Ashley: I must say that my experience of rape derailed me. I was ready to go to college in New York City to study for an art degree; I wanted to be a photojournalist in the Peace Corps. But I couldn’t face a city full of strangers, it was crippling for me. I had to leave, and I thought a small local community college would be OK, but it became crippling as well. The fear and anxiety were completely overwhelming. I couldn’t cope because I couldn’t talk about it. As Cheryl said earlier, I began to realize my secrets made me sick. But in saying this I realize I went back to art when I started writing poetry. So yes, I would have come around to an art path … I just took the long way to get here. I am grateful for teachers, teachers like Cheryl, people who are influencers who allow you

Meet the Winners on Page 48

Meet the Winners, continued from Page 47

to walk in with zero experience and say, “pick up the paint brush, throw off your shoes and dance, or start writing.”

Christina: As we talk about trauma and its effects – does anyone want to add further thoughts?

Ashley: We must remember that every person you meet is on their own road for trauma recovery, and we must meet them where they are.

Cheryl: Yes, everyone has experienced trauma in their lives, even if they are not acknowledging it. They are still walking around with it. We need to meet people where they are and show grace – yes, grace, that is the word. I think back on when I wasn’t dancing and what it was doing to me, especially during Covid when I wasn’t teaching. It was a dark time for me. It is also important to note that the percentage of women who are dealing with D&A issues and have background trauma issues is through the roof. The alcohol and drug usage are a way of hiding the pain or stopping the pain and the shame.

Reina76: What about eccentricity? I have always liked being different, even as a child I wanted to be different, but kids around me would say, “Oh, you are weird.” So many of us are carrying those traumatic memories of not being enough – not being enough to someone. And it can exist in everyday life with someone saying, “I don’t like the way you do this or how you express yourself.” As creatives, we should also check in with ourselves to make sure we are not sharing toxic behaviors. So, Ashley, you are correct in stating that everyone is on their own journey, and I try very hard to be mindful of that.

Christina: It seems through this conversation that I hear you all say that it isn’t necessary that you earn your living through art, you just need to create.

Ashley: I think we are all compelled to create. For many overlapping reasons. You’ve brought up a good point that Reina and I have talked about. There are three categories of artists: those of us who are compelled, those of us who can or do painstakingly create a living through their art, and then there’s this tiny sub-set and overlapping group who are blessed enough to be compelled and they go on to make their living creating art. Reina is in this last group, as this is how she makes her living and Cheryl and I are in the first group.

Christina: So, is it more about your personal healing, recognition, and acceptance in your art field than the money?

Reina76: People can feel our passion for our work; they believe that I want this – and I do! This is my passion and my love, and I am following my creator and my guides who say, “Follow your passion and we will take care of you.” This is my calling.

Cheryl: I see music in my head. I can choreograph a song and even hear the instruments. I see bodies moving to the music. I love my job,

but my dancing and yoga allow me to not have to ask myself ‘Is this all there is?” I think you must feed all parts of your brain, so my job feeds the analytical part of my brain, and the dancing feeds the rest of my brain, so my brain doesn’t need to be filled with unhealthy activities. I tell everyone that I am an addict; I feel this compulsion in my life so I know that I must find healthy things to feed my compulsions and back away from unhealthy activities – for instance, right now I need to put myself on

a shopping moratorium as I realized I was headed down the wrong path, wanting one more pair of black boots. Moderation is not part of my life; I need to always find a brain buzz. It is important to say that when you are in addiction you get so comfortable with being uncomfortable, it becomes your MO - being able to run around, keep your stories straight, hiding this, covering that, you get very comfortable with this behavior and don’t realize it is unhealthy. You create your own chaos, so you don’t feel uncomfortable.

Ashley: This is so true. I spent so many years keeping the secret of what had happened to me, it became normal to act this way. When Cheryl talked about the dark spiral of drugs and alcohol it can be the dark spiral of any type of self-sabotage that we use against ourselves; money, relationships, career – you become stuck in the “I am not worthy” state or saying “I’m gonna blow this up before it blows me up.” Art gives us a healthy way to exorcize our demons, force ourselves to stop and evaluate and break that cycle of sabotage.

Christina: A closing note from any of you?

Ashley: We all laughed when we figured out that we had all been born in Harrisburg Hospital (now UPMC) but in three different decades.

Cheryl: Ashley and I met through state jobs and then I was recently introduced to Reina through Ashley.

Reina76: And now here we all are – starting life in the same hospital but all of us moving on to very different lives and now being brought together by art. On a more serious note, I would like to say that my studio door is open to anyone who wants to talk about art, needs a listening ear, or just a place to rest from their troubles. We all carry our own demons.

Ashley: Readers can buy my book Found. Still lost here at Heart and Soul Bookstore. And please reach out to the many support services and people in our community if you need help.

Cheryl: If anyone reading this is suffering from trauma, addiction, suicidal thoughts, and ready to take that first step, please know that there are so many community services out there to help you. Just make that call!

Christina: A sidebar to this story has been created that lists hotlines and other services for those suffering from violence, trauma, addiction, and suicidal thoughts. 7

Reina76: Facebook Reina 76 Artist Studio, website reina76artist.com, Instagram @reina76artist, Millworks – studio 318. Also search YouTube for Reina76

Ashley: Find her book Found. Still lost locally at Heart and Soul Books, 5970 Linglestown Road, and Cupboard Maker Books. The book is available through Amazon and the Sunbury Press online bookstore. Facebook AshleyNicholeArtist, Instagram @ashleyafterall.

Cheryl: CommUNITY Yoga, 1423 N Third Street, Harrisburg, www. communityyogaspace.com; Richie School of Dance, 515 N. Mountain Road, Harrisburg, www.richiedance.com/richie-school-of-dance.

Cheryl Dondero with Louis Van Anstel
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