Heritage Center holds grand opening
KATIE WARGO/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS The audience was enthusiastic in both listening and dancing to the "After Hours Big Band" at the Summit Hill Heritage Center on Sunday afternoon. Even if it was only a few hours, those attending traveled back to the times of big bands to enjoy selections from Mitch Miller, Benny Goodman and other musicians of the big band era.
Music, dancing, karaoke and magic were just some of the activities that took place during last weekend's grand opening celebration at the Summit Hill Heritage Center at the corner of Hazard and Chestnut Streets in the hilltop community. In a weekend long celebration, the board of directors for the Center officially celebrated its new life with a sampling of some of the activities they hope to offer to the greater Panther Valley and Carbon-Schuylkill areas.
"This building was constructed in 1865 by a group of Pennsylvania Germans who had dreams for themselves and their future. They had little idea what the future would bring but their faith led them to settle here," said Rev. Wilbur C. Albright, officiant and former minister of St. Paul's United Church of Christ. "Now a new group of individuals have dedicated themselves to taking this center into the future for the good of the community with hope for the future."
Albright said he was happy to be able to assist with helping the board of directors form a plan and a vision for the future. "I acted as a liaison between the Penn Northeast Conference of the UCC church and while I'm still an honorable member of the board, the process is almost completed and soon this Center will be in the hands of these dedicated volunteers to guide into the future. But they won't be able to do it alone. They will need the help of all of you," he said to the 30 people attending the service, "and they will need the help of the community for whom this building is dedicated."
He advised the board that it will be tough but they need to have faith that people will respond. "Invite them, invite them and invite them again. Keep inviting them until they enter and see what good you are doing for the area, then they will understand and help you." He told them not to be dissuaded by adversity but to embrace it and work with those who do not understand the mission of the center.
The vesper service marked the end of the weekend but the beginning of the Center's life as an educational, entertainment and social gathering place for the area. This was demonstrated in the wide variety of programming offered during the two-day celebration.
The open house began with a presentation of the history of Summit Hill sponsored by the Summit Hill Historical Society on Saturday morning. Light refreshments were served throughout the day. During the afternoon children were able to make masks during a craft workshop offered by Cristyn Jones. While they were making crafts, Summit Hill Historical Society President and local author Lee Mantz spoke about his study of our history as seen through photographs in "Images of America: Summit Hill" which was published last October.
After the lecture entertainment continued with a magic show by "The Comedy and Magic of David" and a light dinner. The open house continued into the evening with entertainment by Pat McGeehan who was joined on stage by his son Shane to entertain the crowd with an engaging selection of folk, bluegrass, rock and country style music. Saturday evening concluded with L&B Karaoke and an evening of song and music.
The celebration continued on Sunday afternoon with "The After Hours Big Band" who provided big band style music which was enjoyed by the audience who danced away the afternoon. The afternoon concluded with the vesper service.
Heritage Center Secretary Andrea Mantz said, "The weekend was great and we had a wide variety of entertainment providing a sampling of what we want to do on a regular basis. Those who did not stop to learn about the center really missed out on a great deal of fun."
Mantz said the next event is a lecture on the history and traditions of Halloween by David Wargo, a local historian and Vice President of the Center. This lecture will be Friday, October 8th at 7 p.m.. For more information, call (570) 657-0792 or check out the center's website at www.summithillheritagecenter.com.
The Summit Hill Heritage Center is a nonprofit service organization whose mission is to enrich the lives and communities of the Panther Valley and surrounding areas through entertainment, educational and social events, with its funds going to maintain and administer the building to support organizations like the food pantry, Boy Scouts and Quilting Guild. All donations and memberships are tax deductible contributions.