This is my Hometown

Friday, August 29, 2014

Inspired by an interview with Lift Johnstown I did last week, I wanted to talk more about the town that I was born and raised and then after much traveling and living elsewhere, have now returned to raise our own kids;  Johnstown, PA.

I am third generation Johnstown-born in my family and my parents and in-laws were high school sweethearts turned married from the same school I attended....where I met my high school sweetheart turned husband.  My husband now coaches varsity boy's basketball in the same gym he broke school records all those years ago as I sit in the stands cheering for the blue jays only now with two squirmy kids (and soon to be a newborn) on my lap.

That's not to say we have limited ourselves to other parts of the world.  We both left town for college, I spent two years living, teaching, and loving Brooklyn, NY, and then we spent three years together making our home in Erie, PA.  We've traveled to Thailand, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica.  Our kids passports will boast a picture of them with their baby chubby cheeks at 4months old until they finally expire at 5years.  Actually, we spend significant time in the year traveling with our kids to see new places; New York, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, North Carolina.


Coney Island, NY
But Johnstown is our home.

It's the people we run into while at the post office, it's the helping hands while I try to unload a grocery cart with two kids in the rain, it's the soldiers that smile and wave back to my kids at the mall, it's the stranger who upon hearing our last name shuffles through the Rolodex in their mind to pull up one of our relatives that they attended school with years and years ago with a, "Please tell them I said hello."

And now that I'm a Mum, it's even more importantly - the place that my kids call home.  The place where on regular days we make our life and memories.  It's where they learned to say 'youns,' where they'll make their first friends (many of whom will be the kids of their parents' friends), where their seasons are sprinkled with joyful celebrations and parades.

It will someday be the backdrop of their childhood; no matter where they choose to travel or live in the future.  Johnstown will be a part of who they are...and for that I am eternally grateful.

So through the eyes of my family, this is our hometown:

A town of rich history that supply never-ending stories (both historical and personal to our family) about how the town has changed and grown.  Including stories about why their great great grandparents first came to live here.

Incline Plane - steepest in the WORLD.
Our favorite out-to-eat spots; most of them locally owned and we are recognized as the family with the kids who love chicken wings.  Like, The Woodside Bar and Grill, The Old Tollgate Inn, Scoofie's Stop and Shop, The Thomahawk, and the Johnstown Inn

The parks and playgrounds.  Goodness, how we enjoy the parks and playgrounds with these two wild children who like to run, jump, and climb.  I fear that had we not had such active kids, Brandon and I may have missed out on the multitude of playspaces that our town has to offer.  Such new breath parenthood has brought into our eyes about our hometown.

Greenhouse Park

Roxbury Playground

Staple Bend Tunnel & the Coy/McCombie Trail Link

Playground on Luray Avenue
Quemahoning Dam & Recreation Area
The grown up groups we have participated in over the past two years; volleyball leagues at our local elementary school and at Roxbury Park with the Greater Johnstown Volleyball Club; pick-up basketball leagues and alumni tournaments that Brandon has participated in, as well as our the Conemaugh Valley Alumni Association.

The kid-friendly hot spots that are scattered around town like the Johnstown Children's Museum and the local library with its drop-in StoryTime, and Sweet Frog that many times our ice cream purchase doubles as a fundraiser for a local organization in need.

Johnstown Children's Museum
drop-in story time at the library
Sweet Frog
The local sporting events, both minor league and high school level, to cheer on hometown sports heroes like the Johnstown Thomahawks, AAABA tournament, and our very own Daddy's team The Blue Jays.

And the seasonal fun we have in our town; the parades, festivals, and annual events that we look forward to throughout the year like Thunder in the Valley, The Halloween Parade, Santa Meet&Greets, Faranda's Farm, and the Children's Book Festival of Johnstown.

Faranda's Farm

Santa Meet & Greet at the Johnstown Inn
We are grateful to raise our kids in our hometown, but being parents has opened our eyes to many things about our town that we didn't know were even going on - or that we could enjoy ourselves; especially through the eyes of our kids.

...just another way the kids help remind us what a beautiful world it is that we live in. 

impromptu dance party atop the city
I would encourage all families (where ever you may call your hometown) to get involved with groups that do things that already interest you - Mom's groups, school PTO, Volunteer organizations, your church - Just put yourself out there.  And as silly as it seems "Like" your local businesses, restaurants, and organizations on facebook. The more you connect yourself to your hometown that you might think you already 'know' - you'll be surprised by how much more you'll learn about all the sometimes hidden opportunities and fun that your town has available.  

If you do happen to be a Johnstown family, you can start here:
YOU in Flood City

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