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A night on the town in Tamaqua with concert, tours

Out-of-town guests spent more than four hours in Tamaqua on Thursday, and the largest crowd yet turned out for a free concert in what was the biggest night of the summer for the community.

Local clubs, organizations and businesses joined together to showcase “Tamaqua Night Out,” a special event of the Tamaqua Area Community Partnership that focused on fun activities and hospitality for local residents and others arriving by rail.

Passengers boarded the Sounds of Summer Concert Train of the Reading Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad at Reading Outer Station at 3:30 p.m.

When they arrived in the Schuylkill County town an hour later, a welcome mat was extended in the form of an ambitious itinerary of free entertainment and things to do and see.

“We have volunteers to lead people to various attractions,” said Kyle Whitley, one of more than a dozen ambassadors wearing black T-shirts emblazoned with a large red heart.

“I’m directing people toward the Arts Center,” said ambassador Wandie Zammer-Little.

Yet another, Tamaqua businessman Lee Shafer, stood near the railroad tracks and answered questions as visitors found their way to the main street.

“They want to know where to eat and they ask about places to shop.”

Many already knew their destination.

“We have reservations to eat at La Dolce Casa,” said Ruth Smith of Reading, with her party of three.

Others opted to dine at the Tamaqua Train Station Restaurant, most of whom made reservations.

“We’re already booked. Sold out,” said co-owner Melanie Ross, one of the event organizers.

“My sister and I came for the concert,” said Roberta Hollenbach, with Linda Moreno, both of Tamaqua.

“This is the first time in two years that I’ve come out,” said Moreno, explaining that lower back issues had been compromising her mobility during the pandemic.

Visitors had a chance to shop and dine for an hour or so and then decide which attractions to attend.

A free outdoor concert from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the depot platform provided by the Toolshed Jack Band drew more than 400. The event was sponsored by Lehigh Valley Health Network. A Gimbel Farms food truck was stationed nearby.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m., information-filled, guided walking tours of historic Odd Fellows Cemetery stepped off every 15 minutes. The tours were sponsored by Harmony Odd Fellows Lodge and Lady Harmony Rebekah Lodge and provided a glimpse of the town’s past through notable burials at the 1864 resting ground.

Another group formed to for Walk with a Doc, a casual, mile-long health-oriented trek through town hosted by Joanne Calabrese, DO, of St. Luke’s University Health Network. The walk stepped off from the gazebo at Depot Square Park at 5:30.

The Tamaqua Historical Society Museum and the 1848 Hegarty Blacksmith Shop opened for tours from 5 to 8.

Another food truck, Vince’s Cheesesteaks, was stationed at Stokers Brewery on Mauch Chunk Street.

Less than a block away, visitors were offered a chance to sit and relax at Hope and Coffee on Pine Street and then walk a few doors south to the Tamaqua Area Community Arts Center for a meet-and-greet with Pine Grove artist Heather Butler.

Restaurants stayed open as did specialty shops such as Tink’s Antiques and the Five Points Mill.

“This is a huge turnout,” said Ross. “Thanks to all who volunteered to help. This is what Tamaqua is meant to be.”

Part of a group of 400 that turned out Thursday for a free concert at the Tamaqua train station by the Toolshed Jack Band, part of a full schedule of activities during Tamaqua Night Out. See a photo gallery online at www.tnonline.com DONALD R. SERFASS/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Micah Gursky, right, gives directions to visitors who arrived in Tamaqua Thursday aboard the Sounds of Summer Concert Train of the Reading, Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad.
Visitors disembark Thursday from train cars that arrived in Tamaqua from Reading Outer Station to take in the activities of Tamaqua Night Out. DONALD R. SERFASS/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS