By Laura Revelt –
Penn Manor students spent the day cleaning up one of Lancaster’s treasures.
Penn Manor’s Serteen Club and the Life Skills class cleaned up Long’s Park on April 29. This sort of preparation is vital for the upcoming Sertoma Chicken Barbecue and the park’s summer season.
It started out as a cool April morning with overcast skies, but eventually temperatures reached 70 degrees, a hot day to be working outside. At the entrance of Long’s Park, Penn Manor students were already hard at work. Their day consisted of mulching, planting flowers, pulling weeds and much more.
The Serteen Club and the Life Skills class arrived at Long’s Park at 8:00 am and their day was to end at 2-2:30 pm. A long day of volunteering, but this is nothing new for this group. According to Barb Rathbone- Frank there has been a long history of Serteen helping out at the park near the end of April.
“It’s just what we do every year. Same time, same place,” said Rathbone-Frank.
“It’s another way to give back to the community, which is our main goal,” explained Stef Friedman, the Serteen President.
Eric Bear, another Serteen member, said its important to get people throughout the community together and to be aware of service needed.
“Every little bit counts,” added Bear.
This is both Friedman and Bear’s third year volunteering at the park.
The group may be dedicated, but it’s not always easy.
“Horrible allergies! My nose runs all day,” said Friedman.
Multiple workers could be spotted wiping their noses, sneezing and rubbing aggravated eyes.
The Life Skills class also helps at the park every year. According to Melissa McMichael, a Life Skills teacher, Serteen and the Life Skills class coordinate schedules to set up a day that they can both help at the park.
“It’s a good opportunity for the kids to have fun and to practice their work skills,” said McMichael.
“It’s a nice thing,” said Rathbone-Frank, “to have them working together is good,”
“They definitely look forward to it every year,” added McMichael.
Rachel Taylor, another Life Skills teacher said, “It’s nice for them to come back in the summer with their families and point out the things at the park that they did.”
Overall the student’s efforts are definitely valued.
“Next to the Barbeque, this is the single most important day of the year for Long’s Park,” said Debra Martin Berkoski.
Berkoski is the Long’s Park Maintenance Supervisor and has been for 13 years. Berkoski graduated from Penn Manor in 1985.
“When I was in high school I was in 4H and FFA,” said Berkoski. “By doing those I gained a lot of knowledge necessary for working here.”
“I, along with three total people here, maintain the 80 acres and we facilitate any event here,” explained Berkoski.
According to Berkoski, Long’s Park has 18,000 trees, 13 weeks of concerts over the summer (Sunday nights, Memorial day through Labor Day), a petting farm, four police horses are housed at that park, fireworks on the Fourth of July and events that hold up to 50,ooo people. Other perks of the park include the pond with a bridge and gazebo, walking paths, an open field for activities and playgrounds.
According to the park’s website, Longspark.org, besides the Chicken Barbecue and summer music series, another major event is the Long’s Park Arts and Crafts Festival. None of these events would be possible without the efforts “behind the scenes.”
“Some people (who come to the park) are really grateful, but others don’t realize the work behind it,” said Bear.
Perhaps because people are so accustomed to the park being there for all to enjoy or because public goods are taken for granted, it is overlooked that there are people, including Sertoma, volunteers, and Maintenance, that work hard to keep it that way.
According to Lancastersertomabbq.com, 80 percent of the money made from the Chicken Barbecue goes towards Long’s Park. Along with the park, Lancaster Sertoma supports Penn Manor’s Serteen Club with scholarship money, by paying for t-shirts and this year paid for the teachers’ substitutes during the cleanup.
The Sertoma Chicken Barbecue is the World’s largest chicken barbecue and will take place on May 21 from 1o:oo am- 6:oo pm (Lancastersertomabbq.com). Come out and help raise money for Long’s Park.