The home I grew up in sat on a dead-end road. It was once a main thoroughfare leading west from Pittsburgh, but in the 1960s, it was cut off by the development of Interstate 79. Where my Italian immigrant grandfather once had a wholesale whiskey business and then a gas station, businesses died and homes were moved – literally. In our little town, multiple homes, including the home in which my husband was raised, were picked up and moved. My father kept his property and his business, as did my uncle. A lone home remained as well. Our buildings were the last in a road that circled in on itself, deadening at a macaroni company. If tourists came through, they were most assuredly lost. WAY lost.
For the past seventeen years, we have lived in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Well, technically there is no town of Hershey. Hershey lies within the bounds of Derry Township, and that’s where we live. Derry Township is home to HersheyPark, among other attractions, including a natural limestone cavern right across the street. Things are. . . different.
In case you’re unsure, here are ten signs you may live in a tourist town.
- Clueless drivers abound. Be wary of vehicles making sudden stops and last-minute turns, they’re trying to figure out where they’re going and how to get there.
- Buses. Everywhere. It’s common to see three or four buses trailing one another down our street, clogging the McDonald’s parking lot, or lined up in various parking lots.
- Heavy traffic at odd times. I know summer has arrived when Saturday morning traffic slows in front of our house. That’s the same time of year it slows on Friday mornings on Route 322 East.
- Overcrowded restaurants. We don’t eat out a lot, but I won’t even bother with the local restaurants on busy summer weekends when the park is open and there’s a big concert in town. It pays to find a place off the beaten path.
- You refer to yourself as a “local.” You feel the need to identify yourself as a non-tourist when asking a question at a local business or during introductions.
- Odd things become the subject of photographs. In Hershey, it’s the streetlights, which look like Hershey kisses, but it could be anything peculiar or unique to the town.
- Local ordinances preclude ugliness. Because your town is all about attracting people (and their wallets), your local government will want to ensure your town remains an attractive destination. This may mean ornate business signs and no seasonal, big-item garbage pickup.
- You tolerate a high amusement tax. Local government will want to cash in on the tourists (and must to fund the costs of the influx of nonresidents), so you’ll pay a big tax on things like miniature golf that don’t apply in neighboring municipalities.
- Opportunities to meet interesting people abound. It’s not all bad. It’s kind of neat to bump into people from around the East coast, the country, and sometimes the world. (If they’re not vacationers, they may be the young people working in the tourist hot spots and doughnut shops.)
Have you ever lived in a tourist town? Did you enjoy it?