After almost 30 years as a Cranberry resident, I’m more excited than ever to be part of this amazing community. And I recently put my finger on why that is, although no one would ever find out just by watching TV.
If a visitor from some far-away land were to watch the morning news here, they would be horrified. The shootings, the crashes, the fires and assorted mayhem that fill the news leave viewers with an image of Western Pennsylvania as a scene of terrible events – one that would prompt any sane visitor to leave at once and stay away.
Problem is, that’s not an accurate picture, nor is it the way most of us see ourselves or our community. Instead, it presents a seriously unbalanced view of life in the region, especially here in Cranberry Township. That disconnect was driven home to me Big Time on a recent weekend.
Saturday morning, for example, I attended the official opening of our new Disc Golf Course and Nature Trail in North Boundary Park. It was a great event. In addition to inaugurating a tournament-level facility that will be free for everyone to use, we were able to celebrate the fruit of a communitywide effort, led by CTCC, that was built on contributions from hundreds of residents and local businesses.
Saturday afternoon was another celebration, but not quite as joyous. Instead, it memorialized the life of a longtime Cranberry resident who had been instrumental in forming the Cranberry Area Diversity Network. The turnout was huge – a tribute to the work that Gary Winterhalter and co-founder Charles Hawkins had brought to our community. As Hawkins put it in his eulogy, “this is a celebration of the amazing work that Gary did to ensure that Cranberry continues to be an accepting and inclusive community.”
Later that same afternoon, my wife and I attended the high school graduation for Jacob, a remarkable young man from Seneca Valley who we have known for a long time. The class celebration was held in Community Park and it was filled with people talking, playing, and singing along with their classmates. But that wasn’t the only celebration going on in the park; as I looked around, people everywhere there were also gathering, talking, playing and having a good time.
The next morning, despite the rain, I took a bike ride through Graham Park. There, too, I came across dozens of people who were walking, running and biking through the park’s beautiful wetlands, enjoying its creekside, its gardens and woodlands.
Sadly, there were no TV crews on hand to document the energy, the joy and the community spirit I kept encountering throughout the weekend. If they had, perhaps our visitor from a distant land might have decided to stay around for a while.
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