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They're Gone, Time for Top Ten Townie 'Bucket List'

by on May 19, 2015 6:15 AM

"We are so glad you came! Bye-bye! Bye-bye. Buh-bye. Bye-bye now. Bye. Buh-bye.

"Remember, please discard all candy wrappers and popcorn containers in the nearest trash receptacle. Thank you! Okay, buh-bye now.

"Bye-bye. Bye. Hahaha. Okay. Are they all gone? Uh, is, is, is everybody gone? Haha. Huh? Good! Ohmigosh my cheeks are killing me! I can't keep smiling like this anymore! I am exhausted! I think I need a break. A little break? Okay."

-- Barbie, Toy Story 2 (after the credits)

Here we are fellow townies, it's just us! We did it. We finished another Penn State school year. All the students – okay, most of them – are gone. Buh-bye! Bye-bye now! We have Happy Valley to ourselves for three whole months! Not including that extended weekend in July when, thank goodness, we no longer have to worry about our children shooting themselves with Nerf darts.

Surely we can agree that on the whole it was a reasonable year as far as the student presence is concerned. I'd give it a grade of "good." Good sporting events, good plays, good concerts, good THON, good new places to hang, and good volunteering. Lots of good things.

Unfortunately there is still that dreaded State Patty's Day to deal with. But even the downside doesn't compare to what our beloved students bring with them. Such as the billion-plus dollars they spend in Happy Valley every year. Why, imagine if they weren't here. Bellefonte would be the county seat and the land between Lemont and Pine Hall would be woods and farmland with the remains of old ore furnaces dotting the landscape. What's that? Bellefonte is the county seat? Oops, my bad. Well, the rest still stands.

Oh, and aren't we glad these students continue the longstanding tradition of political ambivalence? Geez, if they ever figured out that there are more of them than there are of us, and actually voted as a bloc in an election, whew, who knows what would happen. It might turn out like the ending of A Bug's Life when the ants realize the same thing about the evil grasshoppers. There was one satiated bird at the finish of that movie.

Now ... what to do with this newfound lack of hormone-filled young adults????

Hmmmmmm ...

How about a bucket list? The students are very fond of creating graduation "bucket lists." Lists of things they need to do before they finish their degrees and head out into the world. Why not a Townie Bucket List of things to do while the students are gone?

Sounds like an interesting idea! Here for your reading enjoyment, is the Summertime Townie Top Ten Bucket List – the ten things you should do before the summer is out and our population swells by 40,000 young folks.

10. Go downtown and visit your favorite purveyor of goods. You know you want to and you've been holding back for who knows how long because of the "traffic" or the "parking" or the "students." Now's the time! Load that parking app on your phone and get down there and do the voodoo that you do!

9. Lake Perez is back! Yes, the Stone Valley Recreation Area once again has a lake. The drive over the mountain from Pine Grove Mills in search of nearby water activities no longer ends at just Whipple's Dam. Now you can make the right turn at the bottom of the hill and rent a canoe or sailboat. Hiking on the trails around the lake provides a view of something other than tire and rock piles. The summer is the perfect time to enjoy this resource.

8. Drive up College Avenue and make it from the University Drive overpass to Atherton Street without being stopped by a red light. If there is ever a time when this is possible, summer is it. And it should go without saying – no speeding!

7. Take a picture at the Lion Shrine. This is one of two items on this list that also shows up on every student bucket list I've read. It should be de rigueur for locals as well. Next time you are nearby with a friend, park in the short-term lot right next to the Shrine and spend two minutes posing with the most popular piece of limestone in the state.

6. Penn State's Trash to Treasure Sale on Saturday, May 30th at Beaver Stadium. Sure it raises money for the Centre County United Way and keeps tons of usable goods out of landfills. But the fun part is never knowing what you might find among the "stuff" the students left behind.

5. On a nice sunny day enjoy a beverage and nosh at a downtown eatery that is either outside or opens to the outside. A corollary of No 10. Nothing says au courant like sitting at a table in the fresh air, having a server at your beck and call, casually sipping a drink and nibbling an appetizer, and watching the world pass by. You know you want to. Now go make it happen.

4. Visit the Pattee and Paterno Libraries. After decades of access townies can no longer shoot hoops at Rec Hall or the Intramural Building, or jog on the tracks at Rec Hall, IM Building or the Multi-Sport Facility, but the University hasn't shut us out of every building. We can saunter in to Pattee and Paterno Libraries during operating hours with our heads held high and avail ourselves of the largest repository of printed knowledge in Central Pennsylvania. My personal favorite? Go spend a few hours immersed in the sea of historical details inside the University Archives. Be careful though – it's addicting!

3. Hike Mount Nittany. This is the second of two items on this list that also shows up on every student bucket list I've read. And maybe you've done it, but I'm always amazed at the number of locals who haven't. If you are one of them, pick a nice day and make the journey – the tree cover will keep things cool even on a hot day, and the exercise from a 700-foot vertical climb will do a body good. Go for it!

2. Get some ice cream. Yes, you avoid the Creamery like the plague during the school year, especially during football season, and even the summer has its line-inducing moments (sports camp check-in and check-out days). But your chances of having a walk-directly-to-the-counter moment are much better for the next 90 days, so strike while the scoops are cold.

1. The Downtown Sidewalk Sale. Another corollary of No. 10. The best kept townie secret of all. In fact, so that I don't violate the Townie Code, I won't give you the exact date. Suffice it to say this year it's later than usual -- a Saturday in August when local merchants clean out their inventory and give us a chance to stock up on Penn State merchandise and gifts at unheard of discounts. Save your greenbacks (some merchants accept cash only), and get to Allen Street between College and Beaver Avenues on the appointed morning. The street will be closed, the deals will be hot, and the best stuff goes fast, so put on your shopping game face and be ready to rumble!

Buh bye now!


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John Hook is the president of The Hook Group, a local management consulting firm, and active in several nonprofit organizations. Previously John spent 25 years in executive, management and marketing positions with regional and national firms. John lives in Ferguson Township with his wife Jackie and their two children.
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Fraser Street Closed, Will Reopen as One Way Street
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