The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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May 7, 2014

‘Junk Day’ may be city’s biggest attraction

JOHNSTOWN — Greater Johnstown is plagued by myriad perplexing problems. The continuing population decline cripples meaningful solutions. Our fragmented political landscape isolates communities. Escalating food and gasoline retail prices sting. Medical care and prescription drug prices soar.  

Local news is bleak at times. Drug dealings soil many neighborhoods. Drug related robberies and even murder are prevalent. Banks are frequently robbed.

Our basic home utility costs run amok. Local citizens are faced with funding trips to the grocery store. Yet, local wages remain stagnant. Many locals are uneasy with their employment situation. Too many are a phone call or notice away from permanent unemployment.

The extended cold winter season plus the subpar spring weather cramps our sensory perception. Sunny, warm weather coupled with a greening landscape lifts one’s spirit. Mother Nature is not cooperating thus far.

The 24/7 news is bleak. Planes disappear despite our advanced technology. Ships sink, trapping scores of young, school-aged children. Shootings proliferate across our nation. And, our learned legislators continue their farcical ideological rants.    

Local folks deserve a break. Our senses are overloaded with this nonstop activity. Our troubling surroundings create frazzled nerves. Individuals become weary amidst our frantic pace.

Sometimes just getting away soothes those frazzled nerves. A vacation helps. Even a stay-cation provides mental relief.

Many experts proclaim a hobby. A cherished activity or some other interest helps one deal with our stressful lives. Stress, worries, difficult employment conditions fade when we engage in our favorite pastime.

I am a long distance runner. Running helps relieve or even eliminate stressful scenarios.

Running every day is a terrific confidence builder. Those completed miles create smiles. Our local road race schedule features numerous running events. A runner can test his mental and physical fortitude at various community road races. Crossing the finish line after a demanding race is always memorable.

Nonrunners have a plethora of Greater Johnstown attractions. The Cambria County War Memorial Arena is hosting numerous performers. The Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the Pitt-Johns-town campus has a yearlong schedule featuring quality shows. The Arcadia Theater in Windber also has a superb schedule.

And of course, Greater Johnstown has numerous well-organized festivals, socials, jubilees, homecoming events and arts and crafts festivals.  Fun, food and beverages flow at these celebrations. Greeting neighbors, former classmates and old friends at these events is a Greater Johnstown tradition.

Summer brings Thunder in the Valley and AAABA baseball. The region is alive once more. Downtown Johnstown bustles with morning to night activities. Parades, musical groups, food and beverage vendors all create a warm welcome.

However, Greater Johns-town’s largest spring attraction receives little fanfare. Publicity does exist for this event but only in a general sense. I believe our town fathers and mothers are embarrassed about this eagerly anticipated event.

The Greater Johnstown Convention and Visitors Bureau publish a superb guide highlighting attractions across our colorful region. The front cover last year stated “check out our new tour itineraries of our great attractions!”

Many local folks would welcome a handy tour guide for Greater Johnstown’s biggest attraction. These wide-eyed citizens scour The Tribune-Democrat’s back page for any news, notices and advertisements. Word spreads quickly once a community posts information about its scheduled event. A small army prepares for the annual search.

Have you figured out what this Greater Johnstown attraction is yet? Well, Greater Johnstown’s most popular attraction is Junk Day. Local clean-up days have a monstrous fan base.

The concept is simple. Residents place unwanted items in piles along the street. A designated hauler collects those items for disposal.

Now, in between, treasure hunters drive by, stop, examine and take specific discarded items.

I ran past miles of these treasure troves. People in trucks, cars and vans are on the hunt. Traffic jams occur in some locales.

The activity is nonstop. I trot by people looking during my early morning run. Driving home after work finds even more people out collecting things. Junk Day is a cherished Greater Johnstown activity. Many watch the

spectacle from their porches. Others watch from the road. Junk Day is an incredible event.

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